USF's Giddins healthy, bigger for senior year
TAMPA -- USF defensive end Ryne Giddins, limited by shoulder injuries for much of last season, said Thursday he's back at "90 percent" and considerably bigger, hoping to make the most of his senior season at a crucial position for the Bulls.
"I never was really 90 percent (last year). During the season, I was pretty bad," Giddins said. "My left shoulder feels better than my right one now. I feel pretty good, but I'm still a work in progress, have to rehab every day still and get back to normal."
Giddins played in all 12 games, but said he did so with a labrum torn in three places in his left shoulder, an injury he suffered on the opening defensive possession of the season, in the Bulls' win against Chattanooga. He had 1.5 sacks on that drive, but would have just two more the rest of the year. "That's when it all started," he said.
The full extent of Giddins' injury wasn't made public last year, so his lack of production wasn't seen in its full context, but he said the people around him were aware of his physical limitations.
"My training staff, some of the coaches, they knew what was wrong," he said, "but I tried not to voice it too much, not until the end of the season when they can operate on it."
Giddins is a big part of a deep, talented group of defensive ends, along with seniors Tevin Mims and Julius Forte, Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch and sophomore Eric Lee, who started in the second half of the season. There's quality players inside at tackle as well, led by senior Luke Sager and junior Elkino Watson.
"The competition is really high this year. There's a lot more pressure coming up on everybody on the line," Giddins said. "We've got Aaron Lynch, Ju-Ju, Tevin, Kino, Luke, all them boys. The competition is rising because nobody wants to get beat out."
Giddins knows he's in his fifth and final season, and healthy again, he has an opportunity to re-establish himself as a player worthy of the high expectations placed on him since he was a Parade All-American at Armwood, choosing USF over an offer from Florida weeks after the Gators' national championship in the 2008 season.
"It's very motivational, seeing those guys pushing me to the next level," he said. "I just want to play my role, whatever role they give me. Whether that's second team, first team, whether I'm here to pass-rush, stop the run. Whatever you want me to do, I'm going to do."
Defensive line coach Eric Mathies said the Bulls may employ some packages with more than two natural ends on a four-man line, and Giddins said he'd relish the chance to shift inside and show his strength. He came to USF at 225 pounds and opened last year at 260-265, but he weighed in Thursday at 280 and will bring a bigger frame to the Bulls' pass rush.
"I like it a lot, like going on the inside a little bit, like standing up," he said. "I feel a lot better (at 280). The weight-room staff we have here is first-class."