USF coach Jim Leavitt confirmed Monday that wide receiver Huey Whittaker would not play in the season opener. Whittaker suffered a sprained medial collateral ligament in the Bulls’ first scrimmage on Aug. 17 and hasn’t practiced since. Leavitt had earlier indicated that if Whittaker couldn’t practice by Monday that he would rather hold out the Bulls’ leading receiver in 2001 rather than risk further injury.
Whittaker topped the Bulls in receptions (52) and yards (548) in 2001, his first season at USF. Whittaker played at Hudson Valley Community College in 1999 before transferring to USF for the 2000 season, which he sat out as a redshirt.
It was originally feared that Whittaker might have suffered a torn MCL, but the junior was diagnosed with a bad sprain and has been walking with a large brace on his right knee. Whittaker was blocking on the play when his knee was clipped.
Elgin Hicks is slated to start in Whittaker’s place and redshirt freshmen Joe Bain and C.J. Lewis will also probably pick up some extra snaps vs. Florida Atlantic Thursday.
First day blues
Leavitt was less than enthused with the Bulls’ performance in Monday’s next to last practice before Thursday’s opener against Florida Atlantic.
“We didn’t come ready to go today,” Leavitt said. “But we’ll go bang away (today) and hope we show up to play Thursday better than we practiced (Monday).”
Leavitt thought the Bulls were sluggish due to the distractions of having to go to the first day of classes and then out to practice.
“We have to get into the routine,” Leavitt said. “We didn’t have our focus today.”
Punter Devin Sanderson has fared well enough to hold off freshman Brandon Baker and retain his kicking duties.
USF will work out once more today and then take off Wednesday before Thursday’s 7 p.m. tilt against FAU.