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Another knee injury ends receiver's comeback, thins Bulls corps again

Stretching, Moving: The Bulls opened practice in Tampa on Thursday, and have since shuffled off to Vero Beach on the other side of the state, where they will be for 12 days.

WILLIE ALLEN | Times

Stretching, Moving: The Bulls opened practice in Tampa on Thursday, and have since shuffled off to Vero Beach on the other side of the state, where they will be for 12 days.

TAMPA — Senior WR Colby Erskin , who had been granted a sixth year of eligibility after three surgeries for torn ACLs, tore the ACL in his left knee at Saturday's practice, ending his hopes of another comeback.

USF coach Skip Holtz said he had expressed "apprehension" throughout the spring about allowing Erskin back, but he said the player and his father understood the risks involved, and Erskin had been cleared by USF trainers. Erskin, who came back to the team without any assurances of being on scholarship, was wearing a brace on his rehabilitated knee when he suffered the injury late in Saturday's practice.

"I told him my apprehension of bringing him back, because he has had three knee injuries and I felt uneasy about letting him come back and play," Holtz said. "He and his father understood what was at stake, wanted to do it. This was something I expressed my concern about, but when you look in the young man's eyes and see the fire and intensity and the passion he has for the game and wanting to play, it's really hard to say no."

Erskin's injury is just the latest in a line of losses at receiver — junior Carlton Mitchell left for the NFL draft, and projected starters A.J. Love (knee) and Sterling Griffin (ankle) suffered significant injuries that should sideline them at least the first month of the season. Three reserves Patrick Richardson, Ed Alcin and Jason Sherman — opted not to return, with Richardson graduating early and Alcin graduating and transferring to spend his final season at Division II Fort Hays State. Walk-on Jeffrey "Pookie" Wilson , who caught a touchdown pass in the opener last year, also graduated early and opted not to return.

STILL WAITING: Asked if any other receivers had stepped in the first four practices to fill the void at a key position, Holtz was blunt.

"No," he said. "At this point, I haven't seen anything to give me a lot of hope there."

OFF TO CAMP: The Bulls left Sunday night for 12 days in Vero Beach, getting the players away from the distractions around campus with the hopes of bonding closer as a team. Holtz said players are not allowed to bring video games to Vero Beach. "I asked them, 'Do you think we need it to win?' No. Okay, let's not take them,' " he said. "I'd rather them take a two-hour nap than play a two-hour game of Madden ."

PHYSICAL PLAY: After only two days in pads, Holtz said he's already having to hold the defense in check in order to avoid injuries. "There was some hard hitting going on," he said. "It was a very physical practice. We'll have to turn and modify what we do if we continue to be this physical."

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at tampabay.com/blogs/bulls and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

Another knee injury ends receiver's comeback, thins Bulls corps again 08/08/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 8, 2010 10:38pm]
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