The South Florida football season officially kicks off Aug. 30 against Tennessee-Martin. It is, however, never too early to practice. Wednesday marked the first spring practice of 2008 for the Bulls.
USF has a lot of new faces this season, especially on defense. The Bulls’ biggest loss was at the cornerback position. Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams – both predicted to be selected in April’s NFL draft – were All-American players. USF defensive coordinator Wally Burnham, however, likes the Bulls’ secondary going into the season.
“They can be a special group, because we have so much depth,” Burnham said. “We can interchange a lot of the kids and not hurt ourselves too badly. We’ve got a lot of flexibility in our secondary and we feel good about it. There are a lot of plusses back there in the secondary.”
The secondary will also benefit from the return of senior safety Danny Verpaele, who was academically ineligible last season.
“Danny’s like having a coach on the field,” Burnham said. “He’s one of the smartest football players that I’ve ever been around, and he does a great job. There’s no doubt that he’s going to add a lot of experience to our defense. That was big, getting him back.”
High expectationsAfter a 2007 season that saw the Bulls peak at No. 2 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, coach Jim Leavitt was quick to let his expectations for the team be known.
“My expectations are to always win the Big East championship,” Leavitt said. “Today, I just saw that we were average. We could get better.”
Leavitt, however, was excited about one player in particular – sophomore tackle Jacob Sims. At the start of practice, Sims was listed as the team’s No. 1 tackle.
“Jake deserves it. He’s pretty good,” Leavitt said. “Jake is a special guy, and he’s getting ready to play a lot of football here.”