TAMPA — As USF opened spring football on its new practice fields Thursday, much of the attention was on a pair of running backs who sat out last season after transferring.
"I'm not worried about my goals. I'm worried about team goals. We need to go out and win," said Darrell Scott, touted as the nation's top high school running back before two seasons limited by injuries at Colorado. "I can't wait. South Bend. We've got … 186 days to count down."
USF's opener at Notre Dame was exactly six months away, and Scott — 6 feet 1 and 225 pounds, down from 239 in the fall — is eager to show the form that saw him rush for 5,627 yards and 78 touchdown over his final two years of high school.
"I wasn't used to it," Scott said of sitting out as mandated by NCAA rules. "Practicing five days a week and then having to sit and watch everybody play, it was frustrating. But it motivated me. I'm ready."
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he was impressed by Scott last year just by the way he handled himself as a high-profile player relegated to the scout team.
"What impressed me the most about him in the fall was, 'Was he going to come in and work hard or just cruise through it?' " Fitch said. "He did a great job on the scout team. Coaches raved about him."
Another running back, Dontae Aycock, is in the same position after coming from Auburn. Aycock, a Chamberlain High graduate, will compete with returnees Demetris Murray and Marcus Shaw in a deep, talented backfield. But Fitch also likes the possibility of Aycock, a high school quarterback, lining up in the wildcat, which USF didn't utilize last season.
"We have four guys that are going to compete their butts off," Fitch said. "The best weapon you have as a coach is competition."
THIS AND THAT: Starting middle linebacker Sam Barrington worked on the strongside with Michael Lanaris in the middle. … Safety Jerrell Young (leg stress fracture) and tight end Andreas Shields (back) will be limited. … Coach Skip Holtz will have about 60 prospective walk-ons working out on the first two days. He'll cut that to 15-18 by the weekend. Only a handful likely will make the roster. … With national attention on criminal records following a Sports Illustrated cover story this week, Holtz said USF has conducted criminal background checks on incoming recruits. He added he also did that before coming to USF.