Leavitt praises Bowden

USF coach Jim Leavitt praised for FSU coach Bobby Bowden before the Bulls’ game against the Seminoles earlier this year, saying Bowden “changed college football.”

When asked about Bowden’s potential retirement during a press conference Tuesday, Leavitt said he hoped Bowden would return to the sidelines next year.

Bowden, however, officially retired shortly after, the FSU athletics department announced.

“Coach Bowden is a tremendous coach as I’ve always said. What he’s done for college football is extraordinary,” Leavitt said. “Nobody else in the state of Florida – certainly down in the Southeast – has done anything close to what he (has done) or will ever do.”

Bowden is finishing his 34th season as coach at Florida State. He said in a release that his last game will be FSU’s bowl.

“I’d also like to thank the coaches and their families who helped build the program into something that is special,” Bowden said. “You can’t have a successful program without players, and we have been blessed to have young men who are winners both on and off the field.”

Bowden led FSU to two national championships, one in 1993 and another in 1999. However, the Seminoles have struggled in recent years, including a 16-16 record in the last four seasons of conference play.

In September, Leavitt led the Bulls to a 17-7 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium. Leavitt said he didn’t really think about whether he would be coaching against Bowden for the last time.

“I just didn’t want to get speared by the guy riding the horse. I wasn’t thinking about that,” Leavitt said. “It was a hot day. I was about to faint. Talking to coach Bowden, I remember what I said, ‘Coach Bowden, you want to run a few sprints with me?’ He looks at me and goes, ‘What?'”

Mitchell: I feel good

During Saturday’s loss to Miami, junior wide receiver Carlton Mitchell was still suffering the effects of a lingering high ankle sprain from the West Virginia game.

Mitchell, who was sidelined for nearly a month, caught one pass for 21 yards but said he still wasn’t 100 percent healthy.

“I couldn’t run full speed, I couldn’t cut as hard,” he said. “There were a lot of things I was worried about. I started off pretty good but toward the middle I was hurting pretty bad.”

However, after Monday’s practice he felt “real good,” Mitchell said Tuesday. Offensive coordinator Mike Canales echoed it.

“He looked pretty good (Monday night),” he said. “He had a lot of bounce in his step. He was Carlton out there. He was running around. I think he’s starting to get more confidence in his ankle and feeling like that he can go out there and play effectively.”

Mitchell, USF’s leading receiver with 563 yards, could be returning at the right time, as the Bulls face Connecticut, the Big East’s worst pass defense, on Saturday.

“We have to take our chances (against) the secondary,” he said. “Their defensive line is good, they have very good linebackers. Their secondary is not bad, but we have to study some film and take our shots.”

Johnson signs with Dolphins

Former USF wide receiver Taurus Johnson signed with the Miami Dolphins practice squad on Monday.

Johnson played for USF from 2004-08.