TAMPA — Nearly two years after his earth-shaking collegiate arrival against Georgia Tech, USF speedster Terrence Horne Jr. finally may be ready to deliver some more seismic activity.
A modest contributor last season (eight catches) while still recovering from a torn ACL, Horne was among the receivers singled out Tuesday by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis Jr. for their performances thus far in preseason camp.
Junior left tackle Donovan Jennings took his praise a step further, indicating Horne appears as fast as he did prior to his injury in September 2018. USF validated the sentiments, posting a clip on its Twitter account of Horne easily getting past a defender for a long reception in single coverage during Tuesday’s practice.
“Just as fast, if not faster,” Jennings said. “I’m excited to see him back.”
In his second collegiate game, Horne tied an NCAA record by returning two kickoffs for touchdowns (98 and 97 yards) in a 49-38 victory against Georgia Tech on Sept. 8, 2018. Less than two weeks later, he suffered his season-ending injury during practice, and returned only one kickoff (for 21 yards) all of last season.
On Tuesday, Weis said Horne has had “a great camp so far. I’ve been very impressed. He’s made a lot of big plays down the field. He can be a weapon.”
Fellow receiver Randall St. Felix concurred.
“He’s always fast,” St. Felix said. “He’s getting back to his regular speed before he got hurt, so he still moves pretty good.”
Weis Jr. encouraged by O-line
Echoing the assessment of coach Jeff Scott, Weis called Saturday morning’s inaugural preseason scrimmage at Raymond James Stadium “very sloppy” offensively.
But after sifting through the assorted pre-snap penalties, he was encouraged by the collective effort of the offensive line.
“On Saturday, I was really impressed with those guys,” Weis said. “I thought all summer that they were one of the hardest-working groups, so I thought they had a chance to do it. But just seeing them in action, in a scrimmage situation and in practice, it’s been very encouraging how those guys are playing.”
Currently, the starting five appears pretty solid: center Brad Cecil, right guard Michael Wiggs, right tackle Jarrett Hopple, left guard Demetris Harris and left tackle Donovan Jennings. Three starters — Jennings, Harris and Cecil — return from a beleaguered unit that allowed the fifth-most sacks in Division I-A last year (3.75 per game).
At Saturday’s scrimmage, all three offensive line groups combined to allow one sack, Scott said.
“I think it started in the summer workouts when we started coming back,” Weis said. “Brad Cecil is a guy who I think really took that group and had a lot of pride about it in getting it right and making sure to have a great season this year. Those guys have just worked really, really hard, been really committed.”
Odds and ends
St. Felix said Weis’ playbook is slightly smaller and a little “easier to learn” than predecessor Kerwin Bell’s. “I get a lot of one-on-one balls,” he said. “All the boundary receivers get a lot of one-on-one balls, back-shoulder balls.” ... Receiver Latrell Williams, who also was praised by Weis for his camp performance to date, had a protective boot on his left foot Tuesday. Scott is expected to update his status later this week. ... Returning kickers Spencer Shrader and Coby Weiss, and Arkansas transfer Jared Sackett, all attempted field goals during the special-teams portion of practice open to reporters Tuesday. We didn’t see a single miss.
“He’s one of the smartest quarterbacks I’ve worked with. He can tell you what all 22 players are supposed to do on a play: offense, defense, all that stuff. So he can really use that ability to his advantage, and he can make every throw. He’s got great arm talent; he’s got a good, tight release, confident in where he’s going with the football. So I would say that’s the biggest thing that’s stuck out about him, his knowledge and knowing where to go and recognizing the defense.” — Weis on North Carolina transfer quarterback Cade Fortin