USF journal: Is Jimmy Bayes ready to break out?
At the dawn of his fourth season in the program, Bulls redshirt junior MLB Jimmy Bayes finally looks the part.
A sinewy 175-pounder upon arriving from Immokalee in 2014, Bayes currently is the Bulls' second-heaviest linebacker (230 pounds) behind only Auggie Sanchez (245). Accordingly, he has spelled Sanchez frequently this preseason, logging quality reps -- lots of 'em -- through the first three weeks of camp.
"Jimmy's been working," defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said. "I'm gonna give him credit."
All of which leads to a far weightier issue: In a season when the Bulls need every capable linebacker they can develop, will this finally be the year when the pounds, potential and planets all align for Bayes?
"It's a perfect time, perfect environment," said Bayes, still seeking his first tackle in a USF uniform. "It's just a great year to build on. I've been bouncing around from different positions and stuff, and I finally feel like this is a good fit for me."
A multi-position force of nature at Immokalee (78 tackles, six forced fumbles as a senior), Bayes added 40 pounds his redshirt season in 2014, then made five cameo appearances (mostly on special teams) the following year. All the while, a stable role seemed to elude him; he appeared in one game in '16.
But with USF frighteningly thin at linebacker (Sanchez is the only player who has started a college game), a breakout for Bayes finally could be inevitable.
It might even be essential. "My confidence is rising," he said.
"He's been working, he's gotten a bunch of reps, and it's one of those things where he's just got to come on now," Jean-Mary said.
BRONSON SIDELINED: Senior WR Ryeshene Bronson had his right arm in a sling Friday and isn't expected to participate in Saturday's open practice at the Morsani Complex. Coach Charlie Strong could elaborate on the nature of the injury after Saturday's workout.
Toss in Marquez Valdes-Scantling (right leg), and two of the Bulls' projected starting pass-catchers are sidelined. Also rehabbing various ailments Friday were LB Andre Polk Jr. (hamstring), RB Duran Bell Jr. (left knee), OG Michael Wiggs, DE Kirk Livingstone and DE Vincent Jackson.
OPEN PRACTICE SATURDAY: Speaking of that open practice, it's slated to go from 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Morsani Complex. The Football Fan Day will follow immediately thereafter in the Sun Dome. Fan Day details can be found at this link.
ODDS AND ENDS: The first-team offensive line in Friday's 11-on-11 period open to reporters featured RT Billy Atterbury, RG Brooks Larkin, C Cameron Ruff, LG Jeremi Hall and LT Eric Mayes. Junior Tyre McCants and redshirt freshman DeVontres Dukes started out wide, with Deangelo Antoine in the slot. ... Jean-Mary on starting WLB Nico Sawtelle -- "He's been a pleasant surprise. He shows up on the productivity charts a lot." ... DE Josh Black, sidelined a good chunk of the preseason with an undisclosed injury, appeared to practice at full speed in Friday's padless practice. ... Jean-Mary said before Polk got injured, he "was really starting to come on." The hamstring injury doesn't appear serious.