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Recovering from injury, USF's Alvarado resumes punting

TAMPA — USF junior Delbert Alvarado, hoping to keep both the placekicking and punting jobs he held last season, punted Thursday for the first time in 10 days after being limited by a groin injury.

"I had something wrong with my groin and quad, possibly a tear," Alvarado said. "They didn't run any tests, but it really bothered me anytime I tried to kick, so I just took some time off. … I felt better. A little sore, but better. I'm just trying to take it easy, not swinging 100 percent or anything like that, trying to build that muscle back up."

Coach Jim Leavitt said he has three viable punters, with senior Justin Teachey and walk-on Ilia Petrov, and another kicker he's considering in true freshman Maikon Bonani.

"Who's going to be our kicker/punter? I'm really not sure," Leavitt said. "Who's going to start at a number of positions? I'm really not sure."

BOOTS OFF: Freshman DT Cory Grissom and redshirt freshman OL Jeremiah Warren didn't have boots on their injured ankles as they ran onto the practice field in the afternoon.

Grissom, who sprained his ankle Saturday and could miss two or three games, according to Leavitt, did not practice. Warren, expected to miss the opener, would be one of the top backups on the offensive line. Also returning to practice was defensive line coach John Hendrick, who sat out Wednesday's practices as he recovers from a heart attack in the summer.

ABSENT: TE Andreas Shields, one of five freshmen held out of practice until they're cleared by the NCAA, wasn't watching practice with the other four.

"Nothing real negative. He's got to do a few things for me that are important, important for his life," Leavitt said. "Nothing illegal, nothing that you have to put in a headline or anything. I'm not saying it sarcastically, but it's not anything like that.

"He's got to understand life a little bit, or at least fake like he does."

FSU: Kicker Gano out

TALLAHASSEE — Senior Graham Gano won't be the Seminoles' punter, kickoff specialist and placekicker after all, at least not at the start of the season. Gano, trying to become the first player under Bobby Bowden to perform all three duties, will have surgery today to repair torn meniscus and cartilage in his right knee.

Gano said doctors expect him to miss four to six weeks. He was injured in practice Monday when he recovered a bad snap and kicked with his left foot, planting with his right, his normal kicking leg.

"Right when it happened, I knew something was wrong with it," Gano said Thursday. "I was hoping it was a bruise or a torn muscle or something. I was really bummed. I've worked really hard for this season."

Redshirt sophomore Zach Hobby is expected to be the kicker. Freshman Shawn Powell will likely punt. Hobby, a former standout at Countryside High, made 35 of 37 extra points and 8 of 14 field goals in 2006 at Delaware.

"He's going to do fine," Gano said. "He has the ability and the experience."

REWARD TIME: Fifth-year senior DE Benjamin Lampkin was awarded a scholarship by Bowden. The former walk-on has been a special-teams player most of his career but played defensive end in the Music City Bowl last season in the wake of several starters being suspended in an academic cheating scandal. "He has practiced real good, and he hustles real good," Bowden said.

INJURY REPORT: QB Christian Ponder has been limited at practice the past few days because of a sore arm. "It's my rotator cuff. It's just a little sore," he said. … LB Aaron Gresham and DB Ed Imeokparia had season-ending surgeries this week to repair torn ACLs in their right knees.

UM: Receiver grateful

MIAMI — Jermaine McKenzie remembers waking up each day last season, and before doing anything else, the receiver would grab QB Robert Marve by the hand.

The Hurricanes roommates would kneel, shoulder-to-shoulder in their dorm room, bow their heads and thank God.

"Me and Robert had a vision of what our first game was going to be like," McKenzie said of his fellow redshirt freshman. "He was going to throw me the ball, I was going to run down the sideline and score, and we were going to celebrate. We spent our freshman year praying, thanking God we were alive."

A little more than 13 months after McKenzie, Marve (a former Plant High standout) and junior LB Colin McCarthy (a former Clearwater Catholic standout) were involved in a single-car accident on Interstate 75, football has finally become the focus again for McKenzie.

McKenzie, who came within centimeters of being paralyzed after he fell asleep at the wheel, says he no longer feels pain in his neck. It's time to focus on what he came to school to do.

McKenzie, who played at Bradenton Academy, said he still has nightmares from the crash. He starting driving again around campus two weeks after his neck brace came off in October. But he said he hasn't driven any farther than a nearby Burger King.

When he does drive home with a friend, McKenzie said, he tears up or closes his eyes every time they drive past the accident site near Naples.

"You can still see the skid marks, the places where the car landed," McKenzie said. "I'm just grateful to be here and grateful that Robert and Colin have never put blame on me. All we talk about is the 2008 season.

"Whether I start or play three snaps a game or three snaps the whole season, I'll be happy just playing for the University of Miami.

"And for being here."

Times correspondent Scott Carter contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

Recovering from injury, USF's Alvarado resumes punting 08/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 21, 2008 10:27pm]

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