With training camp over and done with and USF’s season opener against Towson University drawing near, some young linebackers are stepping up to add depth to an already talent-laden position.
Returning starters redshirt junior Auggie Sanchez and senior Nigel Harris head the linebackers unit and have noticed underclassmen such as redshirt freshman Nico Sawtelle.
“We’re pretty young at linebacker you know, we’ve only got a couple guys who’ve played,” Sanchez said at Thursday’s practice. “Nico Sawtelle has had a huge camp honestly. He’s gonna get it and I’ll be the first one to say it here: he’s going to be a big-time linebacker here at USF.”
Harris also had much to say about the players stepping up behind himself and Sanchez.
“We want to bring the young guys up so our two’s can’t be too far behind the one’s,” Harris said. “We have to be on the same level in case something happens to us.
“Nico Sawtelle is doing great. He’s moving around and he understands the playbook, I think he’s going to be a really great player.”
Defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie said a main focus of camp has been developing the depth behind his two veteran linebackers, and players such as Sawtelle and sophomore Danny Thomas are making the most of it.
“We’re trying to build depth,” Woodie said. “You know Nigel and Auggie, obviously those guys have experience. But then you’ve got guys like Danny, Cecil Cherry, Nico Sawtelle starting to really come on. It’s tough when you have a limited amount of reps and now you come in this year and you’re the guy. Those guys are progressing and picking up the schemes and I feel really good with our depth right now.”
Woodie singled out Thomas as one of the players he thought was making the biggest strides in terms of running the defense and confidence in the system.
“Danny, you know he’s had some days that he’s progressed these past couple weeks,” Woodie said. “I’m seeing him step out and being able to run the defense, because you just never know what may happen to guys like Nigel or Auggie.”
Coach Willie Taggart said no new scholarships have been awarded to walk-ons unlike last season when defensive lineman Daniel Awoloke, long snapper Alex Salvato and offensive lineman Mak Djulbegovic earned scholarships.
Taggart was also able to confirm quarterback Asiantii Woulard suffered a stress fracture to his right foot two days ago and will be out for the time being.
A starting punter has yet to be named, as Taggart will continue to watch the competition between sophomore Brent Gordon and FSU transfer Jonathan Hernandez.