Notes: Newcomer Saffold working as first-team corner
It's only the second day of spring practice, and the Bulls aren't in pads yet, but newcomer Torrel Saffold, who joined the Bulls in January out of junior college, was working as a first-team cornerback again Friday morning.
USF's cornerback jobs are wide-open this spring, but it's telling that a player who just got on campus two months ago is working ahead of returning players. Bulls coach Willie Taggart said his two January junior college enrollees, Saffold and linebacker Rahmon Swain, have made quick impressions just by blending in with the Bulls veterans.
"They've shown me they're willing to follow by our rules, to do what it takes to be a part of this football team," Taggart said. "They fit right in with the rest of the guys. You can't even tell. When you just brought their name up again, it just seemed like they've been here with the rest of the guys. I feel like they've come in and fit in perfectly."
USF's Saturday afternoon practice is completely open to the public -- scheduled from 2:30 to 5 p.m. -- and will be the only practice open the fans until the Bulls' spring game at Raymond James Stadium on April 13.
WATER BREAK: A new coaching staff means new quirks to practice -- the Bulls gave at least 12 players a look on punt returns Friday, and assistant coach Ron Cooper brought all sorts of distractions to see which potential returners were unflinching in their focus.
Cooper took a water bottle and sprayed players just as the ball was arriving -- to mix things up, he just shouted "WATER!" at them at one point -- and he continued with creative twists to challenge the returners. Cooper had two punters kick one after the other, seeing if players could field both punts in quick succession, then had players attempt to field punts while already holding a ball in one arm, going so far as to change up which arm the extra ball was in, just to see how players handled the unexpected drill.
With junior Terrence Mitchell indefinitely suspended, the punt return job is even more up for grabs, and Cooper gave looks to key players from both sides of the ball -- receivers Andre Davis, Sterling Griffin and D'Vario Montgomery, as well as cornerbacks Kenneth Durden and Torrel Saffold and running back Marcus Shaw were among the bigger names.
GAGLOEV GONE: One of the more colorful stories of last season was walk-on defensive tackle Soslan Gagloev, the former sumo wrestler from Russia, who redshirted after transferring from NAIA Webber International. Alas, Gagloev is no longer on the Bulls' roster, taking away a fun storyline for 2013, even if he wasn't expected to get any kind of significant snaps.
HOW THEY LINED UP: Left to right, the starting offensive line looked to be Darrell Williams, Brynjar Gudmundsson, Austin Reiter, Lawrence Martin and Quinterrius Eatmon, and the second line looked to be Jake Kaufman, Steven Jacques, Kofi Amichia, Max Lang and walk-on Mak Djulbegovic. ... First-team defense looked the same Friday: Julius Forte and Tevin Mims at ends, Luke Sager and Elkino Watson at tackles; DeDe Lattimore at middle linebacker and Reshard Cliett and Tashon Whitehurst outside; Kenneth Durden and Torrel Saffold at corner and Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins at safety.
PRACTICE PLAYLIST: Young Jeezy's "R.I.P." played as the Bulls stretched at the start of drills ...