Day 5 spring report: Injuries end Wright's career
Bulls redshirt freshman LB Mitchell Wright, whose five-sack performance for Plant in the 2011 state final remains among the best defensive performances in Panthers lore, has been medically disqualified from competition.
USF confirmed persistent neck and shoulder injuries have forced Wright to give up football. It is believed he'll remain on scholarship.
Wright (6-foot-3, 203 pounds) couldn't immediately be reached Wednesday afternoon.
A Panthers team captain, he posted nearly 200 tackles, 20 sacks and 54 total tackles for loss in his Plant career. In Plant's victory against Miramar in the Class 8A state final in '11, Wright collected 14 tackles, five sacks, four tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
MAYES SIDELINED: Coach Willie Taggart announced DE Eric Mayes, who had enrolled early from Milford (N.Y.) Academy to help shore up the Bulls' most depleted defensive spot, has been ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA and won't be eligible this fall.
Taggart said Mayes, a former Sarasota Booker standout, can remain in school but won't be eligible until the 2015 season. He'll have four years of eligibility at that point.
Mayes and junior college standout Demetrius "Shawn" Hill were brought in at the start of the semester to help the Bulls replenish a position that lost its top four players from last season. Hill 6-3, 255) has sparkled at times through five spring practices.
"He has made some plays out here, but he also has made some mistakes," defensive line coach Eric Mathies said.
"He just has to learn our culture, playing hard every play. But it's gonna come, he's a good player. He's going to help us this year and I think he's one of those guys to watch come fall."
PRACTICE-FIELD PROMOTION: Mathies hadn't yet reviewed film from Wednesday morning's practice, but said immediately afterward former Robinson two-way lineman Bruce Hector has played his way onto a first-team spot at defensive tackle.
"Bruce has been a pleasant surprise," said Mathies, who employs two traditional tackles -- not a nose guard -- in his four-man fronts. "Obviously this is just Day Five of spring, but I like what I see out of Bruce Hector right now."
Hector entered spring drills at 290 pounds, roughly 30 more than he weighed for Robinson's 2012 team that reached the Class 5A state semifinals. He said he wasn't terribly fond of playing goal-line defense in high school, but envisioned himself ultimately landing on that side of the ball.
"We're trying to stay on him now just to stay low, work low because when Bruce comes off the ball man, he's an amazing player," senior DT Todd Chandler said. "He's a monster coming off the ball."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls are doing extensive mixing and matching on the offensive line during 11-on-11 work, which Taggart says is intentional. For now, though, redshirt freshman Cameron Ruff -- a Jesuit alumnus -- appears solid at second-team center. ... The Bulls' latest new tradition features Taggart doing wind sprints with the unit that "wins" the day's practice. On Wednesday, the defense ran. "In the past, the losing team ran," he said. "Now the winning team runs. We look at it as a chance for us to get better. You win, it's a chance to get better, get in better conditioning." ... Friday's 8 a.m. practice is open to the public.