USF freshmen earning praise, in position to play
TAMPA -- USF has five true freshmen as top backups on its official depth chart, and Bulls coaches continue to sing the praises of young players who have put themselves in position to contribute immediately this fall.
That includes Hillsborough graduate Nigel Harris, who is listed as the top backup to Reshard Cliett at weakside linebacker, proving himself already to be both a quick learner and an athletic linebacker.
"The kid's just a heck of a football player, and he's starting to flash some things," defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said Wednesday, preparing for Saturday's opener against I-AA McNeese State. "You want to get the best 11 players on the field at all time, and we're going to continue to create competitive situations. ... Nigel has flashed. He's done the same thing on special teams. That's not to say he's close to being a starter or anything like that. He's taken advantage of an opportunity."
There are even more freshmen in the defensive secondary, which could have three true freshmen in corners Lamar Robbins and Johnny Ward and safety Nate Godwin (Freedom), all of whom are competing for snaps, along with redshirt freshman corner Jalen Spencer.
"They're all in the mix right now -- with the nickel and dime (packages), that's five and six DBs on the field at a time," defensive backs coach Ron Cooper said. "Those guys have played well and learned it all."
That doesn't count the potential for a defensive tackle like Derrick Calloway playing, and any combination of four freshman backs -- Darius Tice and Sta'fon McCray and fullbacks Auggie Sanchez (Northeast) and Kennard Swanson -- could see action Saturday. Defensive tackle Elkino Watson said he's been impressed by offensive lineman Dominique Threatt, who he said is "the most powerful guard we have," and now needs only to master the playbook to make a case for playing time.
THIS AND THAT: With guard Thor Jozwiak already sidelined as he recovers from heart concerns, the Bulls practiced Wednesday with backup Max Lang working as the starting right guard, and senior Lawrence Martin, who missed most of the spring with a shoulder injury, watching with an undisclosed injury. ... USF released updated season ticket numbers on Wednesday, and the Bulls have sold and distributed 22,064 season tickets, down about 1,000 from a mark of 23,043 at this time last season. ...