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ACL tear sidelines USF receiver A.J. Legree

USF's A.J. Legree watches the defense from the sidelines during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.
USF's A.J. Legree watches the defense from the sidelines during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.
Published Aug. 10, 2016

TAMPA — Senior WR A.J. Legree, who appeared poised to finally emerge from the Bulls' logjam at receiver, is expected to miss the season after suffering a torn ACL during a recent practice, coach Willie Taggart confirmed.

"Just kind of a freak incident, no contact or anything," Taggart said during the Bulls' media day Wednesday at the Sun Dome. "Just running a route and his foot got stuck in the ground and he tore it. Hate it. He was having a heck of a spring. Had a really, really good summer."

A Kentucky transfer who sat out the 2014 season, Legree — a state champion high jumper at Fort White High — had three catches in seven games last season. Taggart said the school will seek a medical redshirt for the Gainesville native.

A BIGGER BYRD? New defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie said he's counting on senior Nate Godwin — the heir to striker Jamie Byrd — to bring an added dimension to the Bulls' de facto nickel-back spot in their 4-2-5 alignment.

At 210 pounds, Godwin is at least 25 pounds heavier than Byrd — widely considered the defense's most vicious hitter last year — and is believed to be faster. Godwin said he speaks regularly to Byrd, whose primary advice is to "play off instinct."

"(Godwin) is football savvy, we've just got to get him understanding that he has to come off the edge and be that natural pass rusher," Woodie said.

"I mean, you're not gonna replace Jamie, but I just think in our defense … in that position, you're a corner. If one and two go vertical, you've got to be able to run vertical. And I think he brings that to the party."

ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart had an interesting take when asked about the preseason progress of 6-foot-5 WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling. "Early in camp, (CB) Deatrick Nichols was all over him. All over him," Taggart said. "And here lately, he's come alive and is showing us all what he's capable of doing." … First-year receivers coach T.J. Weist said Plant High alumnus Jordan Reed "has probably improved the most of the slot receivers." … Coaches continue heaping praise on redshirt freshman DE Kirk Livingstone, projected to start opposite the "Bull" defensive end. … Woodie said sophomore Danny Thomas is backing up MLB Auggie Sanchez, with heralded Texas transfer Cecil Cherry still trying to grasp some concepts. "If you asked Cecil to go right now and play downhill and knock the crap out of you, he's the best in the business," Woodie said. "Now he's understanding why we do certain things." … Offensive line coach Darren Hiller said 300-pound freshman G Michael Wiggs has a bona fide shot at entering the two-deep rotation. "I'm gonna give him a chance," Hiller said.

AUDIBLE: "Nooooo. USF football supports no other cause — foreign or domestic — other than winning the American Athletic Conference. Period." — Taggart, when asked if all the Big 12 hubbub represents a distraction to his team