USF football begins its spring training

The USF football team held a 2 1/2-hour practice Tuesday afternoon to kick off the spring season, and according to coach Jim Leavitt, the session was a success.

“Good practice. They came out and they did what I expected them to do. They followed on what we were last spring,” Leavitt said.

The players practiced from 4-6:30 p.m., and Leavitt said their play was an improvement on last spring.

“We’re just farther along,” Leavitt said. “You can see that both on offense and defense, and we were able to put in a lot more.”

Some players had more reason than others to be excited about taking the field again. Case in point: Ian Blackwell, who has battled Bell’s palsy, a disease causing partial facial paralysis, among other symptoms. Blackwell missed all of last season and took the field Tuesday for the first time since last spring.

“It felt good just to be running around again,” said Blackwell, a defensive lineman. “I haven’t been out here in so long, it felt new again. I’m still real rusty.”

However, Blackwell said he still felt some ill effects of his ailment.

“The dizziness sometimes acts up,” Blackwell said. “If it acts up, I just go off to the side, take a couple deep breaths and then regain my composure. It seems to go away in five to 10 minutes.”

Also on the field was Lee Roy Selmon Jr., who was on indefinite suspension after being arrested and charged with aggravated assault in the fall. Selmon Jr., son of USF’s athletics director, was cleared by student judicial services though a case is still pending with the state attorney’s office. Selmon Jr. redshirted last season and has two years of eligibility remaining.

Though Leavitt was pleased overall, he still saw room for improvement.

“I thought that we needed to be sharper offensively,” Leavitt said. “We had too many fumbles today, balls on the ground, and we can’t have that. We had too many fumbles last year.

“But (senior quarterback) Marquel (Blackwell) looked good. At running back, I thought Clenton Crossley looked good, Quinton Callum looked good. Chris Iskra looked really good at receiver today. Our receivers, I thought, did a pretty good job.”

Leavitt said defensive lineman Emerson Morris, who broke his leg last season against North Texas, is recovering on schedule but will not play until the fall. Also, reserve linebacker Clay Rebol, an engineering major, left the team to concentrate on academics.

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