TAMPA — After three days of practice, USF took to the road after Saturday's workout for its second consecutive year of fall camp in Vero Beach.
Coach Skip Holtz said he liked the energy he saw during the first day of practice in pads.
"I really enjoy working with this team, just to come out here the way they're working together," he said. " … I thought they came out here and had a really focused practice. It was intense. There was hitting going on out there. I'm really pleased with the attitude and the work habits of this team."
The team plans to spend 12 days in Vero Beach, preparing for its Sept. 3 opener at Notre Dame.
"We're going to have a team meeting where we'll really start talking about camp and putting this thing together," Holtz said. "I think the players are really excited about it, but we got a good day's workout (Saturday)."
Waiting Game: TE Mike McFarland practiced, a day after joining the team following his transfer from Florida.
Holtz said the former Blake High standout is going through a five-day acclimatization period where he must wear shorts without pads in practice. The team awaits word on whether the 6-foot-5, 245-pound freshman will receive a hardship waiver, which would let him play immediately rather than sitting out the season under transfer rules.
"(McFarland's) a big body, but he's in the same boat," Holtz said. "He's like the rest of them right now. He's swimming, drinking through a fire hose, and it's all just being thrown at him really quick. But he is a big, athletic, good-looking young man. I'm really anxious to watch his development with everything."
This and That: Cornerbacks coach Rick Smith said depth at safety makes it the strength of the defense. … Smith said redshirt sophomore SS JaQuez Jenkins, a second-teamer, has three interceptions in as many practices. … Junior WR Evan Landi said the Vero Beach experience inspired unity last season that made the team as close as any he has played on.
UF: Good first day
GAINESVILLE — It was only the first day and there were no pads or hitting, but coach Will Muschamp saw some positives in Florida's first practice. Most notably — no injuries.
"It went okay," he said. "Everybody is excited. We had some very good retention, especially the older players, and decent retention with some of the younger players. I'm pleased with the first day, in helmets."
Despite having missed spring drills, Muschamp said senior RB Jeff Demps didn't miss a beat Saturday.
"He looked great, actually," he said. "He looked really good."
JOYER, STORY IMPRESS: Two area players caught Muschamp's eye, including RB Hunter Joyer out of Wesley Chapel, whom the coach said "did some nice things for us." He also liked what he saw from WR Ja'Juan Story out of Brooksville Nature Coast. "JaJuan Story looks like a guy that eventually can help us. How quickly that will happen I don't know," Muschamp said. "Although I love guys that play quarterback in high school because they've got to make a lot of decisions, but he hasn't played wideout a bunch."
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UM: Speedy to start
CORAL GABLES — Al Golden has told his Hurricanes plenty about the pace he'll demand from them during training camp. And in their first practice, he showed them what he meant.
Roaming from spot to spot during drills, stopping every so often for a few words with players before moving on to another group in a frenetic opening practice, a sweat-drenched Golden was in constant motion when Miami formally opened its first camp under the new coach.
"There's urgency," he said. "There's a sense of urgency in the building. I think the guys know we've got to get a lot done in a short period of time."
UCF: All-around commit
ORLANDO — Kevis Jones, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound all-around player out of Oakland Park Northeast High, has orally committed. Jones has played linebacker, quarterback, defensive end and tight end and is rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com.