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USF spring football: takeaways from Day 4

The Bulls held their second full-pads spring practice Saturday
New USF defensive line coach Paul Spicer, who spent the previous four seasons on the Bucs staff, speaks with reporters after Saturday's practice. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
New USF defensive line coach Paul Spicer, who spent the previous four seasons on the Bucs staff, speaks with reporters after Saturday's practice. [JOEY KNIGHT | Times]
Published Mar. 23, 2019

TAMPA ― A few notes, quotes and observations from the Bulls’ practice Saturday morning, their fourth of the spring and second in full pads.

* Sophomore Johnny Ford, double-training at tailback and slot receiver, took a jet sweep late in Saturday’s practice, dashed around the left side and outran his pursuit for what likely would’ve been a touchdown in an actual setting.

* Redshirt freshman (and Plant High alumnus) Jordan McCloud continues taking snaps with the second-team offense. The second-team o-line Saturday featured left tackle Jeremiah Stafford, left guard Sebastian Sainterling, center Michael Wiggs, right guard John Waller (Admiral Farragut) right tackle Jarrett Hopple (Virginia Tech transfer).

* Sophomore Vincent Davis (16 tackles, two forced fumbles in ’18) is shaping up as the heir to Ronnie Hoggins at nickel back. Lining up with him in the first-team secondary Saturday were cornerbacks Mike Hampton (Hillsborough) and Bentlee Sanders (Tampa Catholic), and safeties Nick Roberts and Mekhi LaPointe (Armwood).

“Davis, he’s a dog,” Hampton said. “He showed it last year, and this year he’s just developing into more of a dog and more of a leader on this team in the secondary.”

Related: USF spring football: takeaways from Day 1

* A couple more Bulls confirmed they added significant weight this winter, a primary offseason priority for Charlie Strong. Hampton, who played at around 170 pounds last season, said he’s up to 185. Senior defensive end Kirk Livingstone said he’s up to 273 after playing between 260-265 in 2018.

“I know some guys have gained some weight, but to me, it’s always what they’re like at the end of the spring,” third-year defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said. “A lot of 'em gain the weight, now the maturity part shows up: How can they maintain the weight?”

Related: USF begins spring football drills after winter of reckoning

* Among those in the mix for the backup defensive end spots behind Livingstone and fellow senior Greg Reaves are sophomore Darrien Grant, redshirt freshman Trey Laing and early enrollee Jason Vaughn, who played at an Auburndale prep school last year. Additionally, Jean-Mary confirmed redshirt freshman Chris Carter is transitioning from tight end to weakside defensive end.

“You see the athletic ability with those guys,” Jean-Mary said. “But they’re a deer in headlights right now.”

* Wide receiver Randall St. Felix is wearing No. 5 this spring, but whether that becomes a permanent numeral change remains unclear. Additionally, junior receiver DeVontres Dukes appears to have worked his way back to good standing. Dukes, among 11 players suspended for the Gasparilla Bowl, appeared to get first-team reps Saturday.

* While we could fill a depth chart with unheralded players who have shined in the spring and disappeared in the fall, it remains worth noting East Lake High alumnus Bryce Miller continues getting reps at slot receiver. A sophomore walk-on, Miller had 24 receptions for 319 yards and two TDs for NAIA Southeastern University in Lakeland in 2017.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.