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South Florida Bulls coach Jim Leavitt starts patient with young football team

TAMPA — Opening practice Thursday reminded coach Jim Leavitt that though this team is talented, it's less experienced than past Bulls teams.

"This is a young football team," Leavitt said. "You lose (22) seniors, the first day of practice I don't expect them to knock the socks off anybody. They want to be good, but a lot of them are in positions they've never been in before.

"It's going to take a while. This group is going to have to grow. Can we? I think so. Will we? That I don't know."

Among the newcomers making a strong first impression were freshman RB Lindsey Lamar out of Hillsborough High and junior LB Jacquian Williams, a Riverview graduate.

"I tell you, Lamar has the quickest feet I've ever seen in my life," QB Matt Grothe said after practice.

"He is ridiculously fast, and I think he's going to have a shot to play this year. We'll see, but I know he impressed a lot of people today."

MLB Kion Wilson said he sees big things in Williams, who will compete for the starting weakside linebacker job.

"His coverage skills — I haven't seen a linebacker cover as well as he can," Wilson said. "He can cover. I trust him in space."

SWITCH: Senior Jerome Murphy, a starter at cornerback last season, worked at safety and could wind up as the nickel safety against spread offenses. Sophomores Quenton Washington and Tyson Butler were lined up as first-team corners, but Leavitt said the position is wide open, with redshirt freshman George Baker and freshman Kayvon Webster also in the mix.

NOT IN YET: Two key newcomers from junior college, DT Leslie Stirrups and DE Jason Pierre-Paul, aren't practicing. Stirrups has finished his classes but hasn't been admitted. Pierre-Paul is expected to finish his classes next week.

THIS AND THAT: Freshman Victor Marc, a quarterback at Hallandale who was highly rated as a running back, will get his first look at safety. … Starting receivers A.J. Love (knee) and Jessie Hester (foot) are limited in practice, recovering from injuries that sidelined them in December and April, respectively. Both are on schedule to be ready for the season opener. … George Selvie is on the watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award as colleges' top defensive end. He was a finalist in 2007 and on the list last year. … The Bulls have morning practices each of the next three days, with the first two-a-day practices Tuesday.

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

South Florida Bulls coach Jim Leavitt starts patient with young football team 08/06/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 6, 2009 10:29pm]
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