TAMPA — In a closed setting that coach Willie Taggart said rendered a far more constructive than clandestine effect, USF's freshmen signees made their formal practice debuts early Monday morning before the veterans-only workout.
"A lot of times when you bring the freshmen in with the varsity, those guys get slighted when it comes to reps, and you end up coaching the varsity guys a little more than the freshmen guys," Taggart said. "Since we've been doing this, I think it allowed those freshmen to be ready to play when we started the season."
Among the rookies singled out by Taggart were four-star RBs Marlon Mack and D'Ernest Johnson, who will vie for the starting job on a depleted depth chart.
"Just knowing what to do, and making the right cuts and having a great understanding of the running game, that was great to see," Taggart said.
Taggart also praised 6-foot QB Quinton Flowers, who totaled more than 8,000 career yards — including 6,042 passing — at Miami Jackson.
"Quinton did well," Taggart said. "He's got something to him; he's got a little savvy, he's got a little football smarts to him. Quinton is one of those guys when you talk to him out in public, he seems real quiet. But I was really impressed on how he took control of the huddle and called the plays in the huddle."
The rookies will continue working out on their own today and Wednesday. The first full-squad workout (open to the public) is at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
DUNKLEY TO DEFENSE: Fifth-year senior Chris Dunkley, who had seven catches for 87 yards last season, worked out at cornerback Monday and will remain there for now, Taggart said. Dunkley trained on both offense and defense this past spring.
"He played receiver, he knows how to play that position and he hasn't played defensive back, and we want to make sure that he masters that position," Taggart said. "If he shows us he can master that position, we'll think about putting him back on offense and having some plays."
ODDS AND ENDS: Due to scheduling conflicts with summer classes, several veteran Bulls — including WR Andre Davis and S Nate Godwin — practiced Monday morning with the freshmen. … For what it's worth, Monday's first-team offensive line was LT Darrell Williams, LG Thor Jozwiak, C Austin Reiter, RG Quinterrius Eatmon and RT Brynjar Gudmundsson. … Early enrollee Devin Abraham, a former East Lake High standout who missed spring drills while recovering from shoulder surgery, made a solid practice debut, according to Taggart. "He is really smart, he understands the game really well," Taggart said.
AUDIBLE: "I would have to say me; I would have to say I'd strike him out. But he has his stories and everything. Apparently, he was an All-American in high school, a little gritty third baseman." — Bulls QB (and former Fort Lauderdale University right-handed ace) Mike White, when asked if he or QB Steven Bench is the better baseball player.