TAMPA — USF football players reported for preseason camp Wednesday night, and coach Skip Holtz announced that everyone would be arriving as expected — all signees qualified academically and no returning players were lost to grades or transfers since the end of spring drills.
"Everybody's in camp, which is not sexy and exciting. It's not great print to get all over the papers, but from a coaching standpoint it's great stability to be able to have those same guys coming back," said Holtz, whose team will practice three days in Tampa before leaving Saturday for 12 days in Vero Beach.
The perfect attendance is a stark contrast to two years ago, when seven signees never made it to campus as part of coach Jim Leavitt's final recruiting class.
"As I said in February when we signed this class, one of the things that excited me so much about it was the character, the academics, the type of people we had in this class," Holtz said. "I think it shows in that here we are, six months later, and every one of them is here reporting to school and has done what they were supposed to do."
WR Alex Mut of Punta Gorda, a signee who is recovering from knee surgery, will be a part-time student in the fall and join the team in January. The Bulls also added a scholarship transfer over the summer in former Florida WR Chris Dunkley, who will sit out this season and have three years of eligibility.
TICKET SALES DOWN: Season-ticket sales are down for the third year in a row, about 1,000 behind last year's total for a drop of about 5 percent. Executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis said the Bulls have sold 17,580 season tickets through Tuesday, and with another 3,143 tickets reserved for staff, spirit squads and trade with sponsors, the total stands at 20,723, down from 21,760 a year ago. USF's high for season tickets was 27,879 in 2008.
INJURY LIST: Only two scholarship players will miss the start of camp with injuries. TE Jeff Hawkins will miss the season after tearing an ACL in a voluntary workout last month, and Holtz said redshirt freshman OL Jake Kaufman, who had back surgery in the spring, will be held out of preseason practice. He will be re-evaluated closer to the start of the season and might be headed for a medical scholarship, which would mean an end to his playing days.
STRONG RECRUITS: Holtz said he expects a major impact from his incoming recruiting class, with as many as seven or eight newcomers playing in the fall. That could include as many as two true freshmen on the offensive line (Max Lang and Thor Jozwiak have been mentioned), WRs Andre Davis and/or Ruben Gonzalez, TE Tye Turner, RB Willie Davis, DT Elkino Watson, CB Kenneth Durden and S Chris Garye.
WALK-ONS: There were no surprises among the preferred walk-ons who joined the program last month with the freshmen. There are three: K Mattias Ciabatti (Hillsborough), OL Jake Smith (Bloomingdale) and Mak Djulbegovic (Carrollwood Day).
PRACTICE PLAN: Holtz said they will have full two-a-day practices just twice in preseason, making full use of noncontact walk-throughs that are allowed in mornings to be paired with standard practices in afternoons. USF will use the full number of allowable practices, 29, between now and the Sept. 3 opener at Notre Dame.