USF football coach Willie Taggart roused his players at 3 a.m. Wednesday for a surprise early session, the workout starting at 4:30 and lasting through sunrise at the Vero Beach Sports Complex.
"I think it was, by far, one of our best practices since I've been here as head football coach," Taggart said by phone. "It was awesome. I was looking to see if we were going to have guys complaining and moaning about coming to practice in the morning. Guys had great attitude, came out and had a lot of energy, flying all around. After today's practice, I'm really, really excited about this football team. I was excited before, but I felt like we took a huge step this morning. Guys were like, 'Coach, we should practice this early more often.' "
Taggart had not tried the before-dawn workout before, but thought the idea carried out the theme of "getting comfortable being uncomfortable" that Ravens coach John Harbaugh told his players about during a guest appearance last week.
"We're trying to put them in as many adverse situations as we can," Taggart said. "We have to learn to play no matter what the situation is. I'm really proud of the way the guys not only came out but executed as well."
Taggart said the players were riffing on his "Who has it better than us?" mantra, saying "Who's up earlier than us? Nooooobody."
As a reward for the effort, Taggart will allow the players a trip to the beach, something the Bulls didn't do in three previous camps to Vero under Skip Holtz.
FSU: WR Haggins out
TALLAHASSEE — WR Jarred "Scooter" Haggins, who was expected to figure in the passing game, is out for the year because of a stress fracture in his knee, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher announced.
Haggins joins Willie Haulstead and Greg Dent as senior wideouts who aren't expected to contribute this fall. Haulstead was declared academically ineligible last week. Dent is indefinitely suspended pending the outcome of a legal matter.
Fisher said he is confident true freshmen Isaiah Jones, Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield and Jesus Wilson will be capable behind a group that includes all-conference wideout Rashad Greene and veterans Kenny Shaw and Kelvin Benjamin.
UF: Hargreaves excels
GAINESVILLE — Florida first-year defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has big holes to fill at several positions because of the loss of key players from last season, but Durkin said several young players are showing they are up to the task.
Among them, former Wharton High standout DB Vernon Hargreaves III.
"Vernon's doing a great job," Durkin said. "He'll be playing for us this year. I can't say he's a pleasant surprise to us, that was our plan with him going in, but he has lived up to the expectations of him coming in here. We think he's a phenomenal player. He takes the game very seriously, he understands the game."
The Gators also have a trio of freshmen linebackers that may play.
"Jarrad Davis, Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian, all those guys are in the mix," Durkin said. "They're doing a great job competing. They're kind of all splitting reps right now and getting their turns. We're excited to see what they can do."
Antonya English, Times staff writer
UM: O-line takes hits
CORAL GABLES — The Hurricanes offensive line ranks are growing thinner, but for now, it only involves non-starters.
Coach Al Golden said freshman reserve Hunter Knighton is out for the season after having shoulder surgery Tuesday.
Redshirt freshman Danny Isidora has a foot injury that will sideline him for at least eight weeks.
True freshman right tackle Sunny Odogwu will be held out of practice for a few days after getting "banged up" in the last scrimmage, Golden said.
And freshman Alex Gall was bitten by a spider on his hand and was having trouble getting in his stance.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel