First practice: How the Bulls are lining up
Perhaps the biggest curiosity from USF's spring practices will be to see how a new coaching staff evaluates the same returning Bulls players. The novelty of everyone starting from scratch means all the preconceived notions -- who should start, who's in the doghouse and so on -- are gone, potentially changing the look of USF's starting lineups within the same roster.
So as USF opened spring drills Wednesday morning, we took note of how the Bulls lined up as they went through drills. To be clear, this could mean a lot, or could mean nothing at all. In season, there's a lot to read from how players go through drills in terms of the hierarchy of starters, top backups and reserves. On the first day of spring ball, it just lets you know what the initial assessments might be, recognizing that they could change many times before the end of spring, let alone the start of fall practices. So take all this with that grain of salt.
QB: At the start of practice, the Bulls had five quarterbacks paired with five linemen, simply working on snaps. QBs were Bobby Eveld, Matt Floyd, then walk-ons Tommy Eveld, Trenton Miller and Aaron Munoz, a logical order to open spring. The five linemen working on snaps? Last year's starting center, Austin Reiter, along with Kofi Amichia, Lawrence Martin, Steven Jacques and Brynjar Gudmundsson.
RB: Most of what I saw was the backs going through the "gauntlet" drill -- player carrying football has to run between two lines of players trying to knock the ball out of his hands. USF had eight backs when I was watching -- Marcus Shaw, Mike Pierre and Willie Davis are the scholarship running backs, and the other five are walk-ons: converted QB/LB Ryan Eppes, Timothy Finklea, Kyle Peck, Grant White and Jackson Cannon. Taggart told me Monday that Tye Turner (now 261 pounds, three more than OL Kam Davis) would work primarily at fullback, but he was lined up with the tight ends Wednesday.
WR: First three I saw going through routes were Andre Davis, D'Vario Montgomery and Sterling Griffin (who will be limited this spring). This makes sense, and the next three were Deonte Welch, Alex Mut and walk-on Clinton Jones. Then Steven Bravo-Brown and walk-ons Jimel Atkins and Jonny Sitton, with Ruben Gonzalez, Derrick Hopkins and walk-on Jordan Duval in the last group. Again, not sure how much to read into any of that.
OL: First, Thor Jozwiak isn't practicing yet -- he and Demi Thompson (along with Chris Bivins) were held out. I'm told Jozwiak and Thompson were limited during winter conditioning and are just getting themselves in better shape before joining the team for full practices. First line I saw was Darrell Williams at left tackle, Brynjar Gudmundsson at left guard, Austin Reiter at center, Lawrence Martin at right guard and Quinterrius Eatmon at right tackle. Second line I saw had Kofi Amichia at center, Max Lang and Steven Jacques at guard (with Jake Smith later in for Lang) and Jake Kaufman and walk-on Mak Djulbegovic working at tackle (with Kam Davis subbing in for Kaufman). It's Day One, and this may change as much as any position in the next few weeks.
DL: Consistently saw Luke Sager and Elkino Watson as the first defensive tackles, with Tevin Mims and Julius Forte working as the first ends. James Hamilton and Todd Chandler were the second-team tackles, with Aaron Lynch and Eric Lee working at end. Ryne Giddins and Daniel Perry were on the third unit, but that might not mean anything. Clavion Nelson (who was 253 in fall 2011, now up to 289) is working as a defensive tackle, as was 281-pound Anthony Hill, fully recovered after a medical redshirt in 2012.
LB: Remember how last year's staff moved DeDe Lattimore inside to middle linebacker late in the season? Looks like Taggart's staff will keep him there -- he was consistently lining up in the middle, with Reshard Cliett and Tashon Whitehurst as the first outside linebackers. Next three? Hans Louis in the middle, Antoine Pozniak and walk-on Ruben Garcia outside. Zack Bullock was working with the next unit, with C.J. Garye and newcomer Rahmon Swain working with the last unit.
DB: Again, it's just how they went through drills, but I saw Kenneth Durden and newcomer Torrel Saffold as the first cornerbacks through drills, then Josh Brown and walk-on Brandon Salinas. Safety, as expected, had JaQuez Jenkins and Mark Joyce with the first unit, then Fidel Montgomery and Jalen Spencer, then walk-ons Trevon Griffin and Tyler Robb.
K/P: I saw four kicking specialists -- Marvin Kloss, Mattias Ciabatti, Chris Veron and newcomer Emlio Nadelman.
Lots more notes to come. ...