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USF’s Terrence Horne set to return from ACL injury

The Bulls’ standout kick returner was lost for the season last September.

NEWPORT, R.I. ― Two significant Bulls players absent during USF’s season-ending six-game skid in 2018 are set to practice when the team opens preseason camp Aug. 1.

Coach Charlie Strong said kick-return extraordinaire Terrence Horne (knee) and veteran middle linebacker Nico Sawtelle (neck/shoulder) both are good to go. Horne suffered a torn ACL last September, while Sawtelle missed the last seven games of ’18.

“Sawtelle could’ve gone through spring, and I didn’t do it because he had just come off that injury and I wanted him to heal up more and give us a chance to look at some of the younger players,” Strong said Tuesday at the American Athletic Conference media day.

“Horne, it’s all mental for him. Any time you have an injury like that, you’ve got to take a lick. I think when he takes his first lick, his whole mind will change.”

Horne briefly took college football by storm ― and 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. He suffered his injury during practice days before the Sept. 22 home game against East Carolina.

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“He’s planting on it, he’s doing everything he needs to do, but he’s yet to get hit,” Strong said. “So I think when that happens, then he’s gonna be like, ‘Oh, I’m okay now, now I can go.’”

Strong also said a chance remains that former North Carolina cornerback KJ Sails can play this season. A former four-star prospect from East Bay High, Sails is seeking hardship waiver from the NCAA, and also must complete some summer courses at USF, Strong said.

“Oh, there’s a good chance for him to play (in ’19),” Strong said. “A lot of things have got to fall in place, and if it falls in place then he’ll have a chance.”

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.