NEWPORT, R.I. — Less than a week before the start of preseason camp, USF senior MLB Auggie Sanchez says he's fully recovered from the right labrum surgery that sidelined him this past spring.
"I'm probably stronger than I've been since I've been at USF," said Sanchez, who reports to camp with his teammates Sunday and begins practice Monday. "I've been battling this for the last three years, and our trainers … they've been nothing but great for me, and they've helped me in so many aspects."
Despite being held out of all spring contact work, Sanchez remains atop the depth chart entering camp. He needs 65 tackles to eclipse the Bulls' career record held by Kawika Mitchell (367).
"The other day we did a 225 (bench press) test and I got it 15 times," Sanchez said. "That's pretty good for me because … six months ago I had shoulder surgery."
Name tags, anyone?
The American Athletic Conference's annual coaches photo, taken Tuesday morning with Narragansett Bay serving as the backdrop, may as well have been a snapshot of mass turnover in the league.
Only three of the coaches from the 2015 photo — Tulsa's Philip Montgomery, Navy's Ken Niumatalolo and SMU's Chad Morris — remained for Tuesday's shot. And while it's commonly presumed the league is losing coaches to the Power Five, only four of the nine who have left since 2015 bolted for a Power Five job.
The other five either were fired or pressured to resign, perhaps illustrating the stern expectations in a league striving to be recognized as a power conference.
"Any anxiety over so many new coaches is easily dispelled by our conference's phenomenal record of hiring top assistants and established veterans who have invariably gone on to great success in our league," commissioner Mike Aresco said in his media day speech Tuesday.
Playoff pipe dream?
With the AAC being afforded no room at the table in the current four-team playoff format, coaches spent part of Tuesday lobbying for an eight-team playoff.
"Really, in football we're the only (NCAA division) that really doesn't have a full-blown playoff," Connecticut coach Randy Edsall said. "I think if you're good enough to win your league, you should be involved in a playoff."
Added USF's Charlie Strong: "You hear sometimes, a (Power Five) team can go lose two games and they're still in the (playoff) conversation. If we have one loss in this conference, we're not in the conversation."
So far, their plight hasn't resonated greatly. College Football Playoff executive director Bill Hancock, who attended the AAC media day, recently said expansion hasn't been discussed within his committee, and nine years remain on the contract for the four-team format.
Odds and ends
USF confirmed that P Brent Gordon, TE Adrian Palmore and OL Logan MacDonald no longer are with the program. Gordon and Palmore were walk-ons; Palmore was arrested this summer on charges of attempting to purchase food at a local restaurant with a credit card reported as stolen. … UCF senior LT Aaron Evans, an Armwood High alumnus, acknowledged eating 10 lobsters during Monday evening's clambake. The feat earned a podium shout-out from Aresco. "I went strict lobster," Evans said. "I tasted a clam and I had a bowl of clam chowder." … New Cincinnati football coach Luke Fickell won three state wrestling titles at DeSales High in Columbus, Ohio, going undefeated his final three seasons (and losing only three times as a freshman).
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.