Spring practice report: Defense finds 'gray' area
While the term "grayshirt" may possess a negative connotation in the recruiting vernacular, it's expected to evolve into a veritable badge of honor with Bulls defensive players.
On Monday, six first-team defenders wore gray jerseys as a reward for work ethic on the field and in the classroom, first-year coordinator Raymond Woodie indicated. The half-dozen: MLB Auggie Sanchez, DL Bruce Hector, CB Ronnie Hoggins, FS Tajee Fullwood, CB Deatrick Nichols and WLB Nigel Harris.
"(The players) came up to me and basically just said, 'Coach, we need to start some tradition,'" Woodie said after Monday's practice.
"I said, 'Hey, what about a Bull Shark jersey?' There are certain things you have to do to get that jersey. Obviously just being a starter, you're not able to just wear a jersey like that. You've got to do a lot of stuff right."
Why gray? Well, it's the Bull Shark defense, and shark skin has a gray-ish hue.
"Those guys have busted their tails off to get the identity of a Bull Shark," Woodie said. "We want all those 11 starters (to have one), but right now we're not just giving jerseys. They can be taken away as well too."
DUAL THREAT: Nearly four years after starring as a two-way force on Robinson High's Class 5A state semifinal team, Hector -- all 6-foot-4, 296 pounds of him -- is training at two positions again.
The fourth-year junior, who leads all USF returners in sacks (five in 2015), is logging reps at both defensive tackle and defensive end in the Bulls' 4-2-5 alignment. Coaches say the double training showcases Hector's versatility and provides another dimension on the edge, where the Bulls have potential but no proven depth.
"Out of all of us, we all admit Bruce has the best hips, the best everything when it comes to pass rush," third-year sophomore DE Vincent Jackson said.
"We've got some guys who I think can do it, but I really know Bruce can do it," defensive line coach Eric Mathies said. "He's a good pass-rusher, he's got good hips, he knows how to get himself loose in the pass game. So we just wanted to take a look at him and see it."
ODDS AND ENDS: Former Bulls DT Derrick Calloway, who withdrew from school for academic reasons last summer, appears on track to return to the program in the coming months. Calloway had 30 tackles and three sacks in '14. ... Among Monday's practice highlights was 6-3 S Jaymon Thomas' diving interception of a Brett Kean pass over the middle. QB Quinton Flowers had a 30-yard TD pass to A.J. Legree -- who was in single coverage -- in the right corner of the end zone. ... Woodie and Mathies say redshirt freshman DE Kirk Livingstone (6-4, 256) is having a breakthrough camp. "He's a guy who, you didn't know what you were gonna get last fall, but he was a true freshman," Mathies said. "And then he got bigger, he got stronger, he's got a great brain on him, so now you're starting to see, 'Okay, he's doing the right things.'" ... LG Cameron Ruff, who spent the weekend at the NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Phoenix, returned to practice Monday. ... The Bulls practice again Wednesday at 9 a.m.