USF switches football players around to address depth

TAMPA — USF true freshman Danous Estenor was moved Wednesday from defensive tackle to offensive tackle, where he's already working as the No. 2 right tackle and will have a chance to contribute in the fall.

"We're going to see how far we can bring him along," coach Jim Leavitt said. "We're going to see if we can play him this year. We lose so many seniors, we need to build some depth somehow."

Another second-string offensive tackle, redshirt freshman Jeremiah Warren, watched practice on crutches with a boot on his injured right foot. Leavitt said Warren's not likely to be sidelined more than a week.

OKOLIE HURTING: Defensive end Quincy Okolie, touted by Leavitt as opening camp in the top five defensive ends, has been sidelined with "symptomatic shoulders giving him problems" and will be back at tight end when he returns.

FRESHMEN IMPRESS: True freshman receiver Daniel Bryant is making a push to run with the first-team offense. Another true freshman likely to play this fall? Walk-on LaDre Watkins of Wharton High, who is lining up as a starter on the kickoff, kickoff return and field-goal units.

TRANSFER LOOKS GOOD: Tight end Trent Pupello, who transferred from Florida in January, continues a strong camp and has moved from being the No. 5 tight end in spring (getting looks at defensive tackle and guard) to being the top backup to senior Cedric Hill. "He's worked extremely hard," Leavitt said.

UF: Safety stars

GAINESVILLE — Florida held its first scrimmage of the fall, and receiver-turned-safety Justin Williams was the unlikely hero with two interceptions.

"Good things happen to good people,'' coach Urban Meyer said. "He's a good person, and two good things happened to him."

Williams, a redshirt sophomore, switched to defense last week at his own request because of mounting injuries in the secondary. Coaches said they saw talent from the start.

"The very first day we kind of threw him in the water — you can kind of tell if a guy can function at a base level," safeties coach Chuck Heater said. "Right away he was functional. … Now it's just a matter of developing him and getting confidence."

Backup quarterbacks Cameron Newton and John Brantley took almost all the snaps, and starter Tim Tebow worked the two-minute offense.

INJURY UPDATE: Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham returned to practice. … Running back Emmanuel Moody (thigh contusion) and linebacker Dustin Doe (hamstring) were limited in the scrimmage. … Receiver Louis Murphy (ankle) is out of his boot and jogged but did not practice.

FSU: McNeil can play

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State defensive end Kevin McNeil, who was cleared to return on Tuesday, will be available for all of the games, coach Bobby Bowden said. McNeil, who missed all of last season, was one of the first football players identified as a part of the academic misconduct scandal. It had been unclear if he would be suspended for any games this year.

NOTABLE: Receiver Preston Parker has a cervical sprain and was held out of Wednesday's practice. Cornerback Tony Carter has almost the same injury; both are day to day. Freshman cornerback Terrance Parks bruised his right knee when he ran into a cart on the sideline in a goal-line drill. … Fullback/tailback Marcus Sims' status remains unclear. His suspension could be for four or five games. … FSU practiced on the band field Wednesday and Bowden said "the synthetic turf saved us today because our fields got drenched." Tallahassee received nearly 3 inches of rain on Tuesday. … Two-a-day practices begin today.

UM: Battle at QB

CORAL GABLES — Coach Randy Shannon says he plans to named Miami's starting quarterback "seven to 10 days" before the Aug. 28 opener against Charleston Southern. Freshmen Robert Marve out of Plant High, Jacory Harris and Cannon Smith are expected to get plenty of snaps in Friday's second scrimmage.

"They have a great time together. They really don't care who the starter is because they're all competitors,'' Shannon said. "They don't have a problem, if the best man wins. I guarantee, you go talk to all those quarterbacks and all of them think they can play in the NFL right now. That's how they are. They're that confident in what they're doing."

Times staff writer Brian Landman and correspondent Phil Kegler contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

USF switches football players around to address depth 08/13/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 13, 2008 11:20pm]

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