Khalid McGee making a move at striker
With slightly more than a week of preseason camp to go, USF's battle at striker (i.e. fifth defensive back) suddenly has shaped up as one of the fiercest.
Senior Nate Godwin emerged from spring practice atop the depth chart, but periodically has been nagged by a sore hamstring, creating an opportunity for sophomore Khalid McGee. Former Sickles High star Nate Ferguson also is believed to be in the mix.
McGee recently earned a coveted gray shirt, awarded to defensive players who display consistent practice effort. As McGee approached reporters for a post-practice interview Thursday night, Coach Willie Taggart walked up, put an arm around him and informed the media huddle that the former Miami Northwestern standout "has been having a heck of a camp."
"I tell you what, you'll be seeing him play Sept. 3 (against Towson), that's for sure," Taggart said.
Meantime, the battle at punter remains undecided between sophomore Brent Gordon -- who punted in the Miami Beach Bowl -- and FSU transfer Jonathan Hernandez. During the brief practice window opened Thursday to reporters, Hernandez had an attempt blocked deep in his own territory and scooped up by S Malik Dixon for a TD.
"We just talked about (the punting battle) as a group at the end," Taggart said. "We've got two weeks to go and those guys have got to separate themselves and make a big impact on our football team."
ODDS AND ENDS: Most of Thursday evening's practice was closed, but the team's official Twitter feed noted backup TB D'Ernest Johnson scored on a 60-yard run, finding a gap on a cut-back. Later, sophomore Chris Barr converted a quick out pattern into a 40-yard TD. ... Taggart got a mild surprise after making the team run following a missed field goal at the end of practice. "I was gonna run 'em just once and they came back, 'We want some more, Coach,'" he said. The players eventually did several sideline-to-sideline sprints. ... The Bulls are set to hold a closed scrimmage Saturday night.
AUDIBLE: "After having a day off, you always want to see how the guys are gonna respond after that, and I thought they came out with a lot of energy today and came out with a mindset of getting better. I felt like we got better as a football team today." -- Taggart, who cut Wednesday afternoon's practice short and treated the team to an afternoon at Clearwater Beach