Redshirt freshman defensive end Ryne Giddins is putting pretty lofty expectations on himself for next season.
“I want to get at least a half of sack to two sacks per game,” he said. “If I’m out there for 60 minutes, or if I get at least 20 plays per game, I should be able to get at least two sacks per game. If I can’t, there’s something wrong.”
Giddins’ coaches would agree there’s nothing wrong with a little confidence. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end from Armwood High School was one of USF’s highest-rated recruits in program history.
Last year, however, Giddins couldn’t quite show his skills to the fullest because an ankle injury ended his season early after playing in USF’s first three games.
Giddins said even when healthy last season, he was trying to find consistency at the college game.
“I would come out and have a good day one day, and the next day, I’d have a bad day,” Giddins said. “I would go all the way down and start back up. (Each day), I have to maintain the ‘good, good, good’ or ‘getting better, better.”
In three games last season, Giddins totaled three tackles for loss and two sacks. This year is expected to be different for Giddins, who will try to help fill the void left by star ends George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul. Both are expected to be taken during the NFL draft in April.
“The level’s been established, so they know what the deal is,” said defensive ends coach Vernon Hargreaves, who’s in his first season with USF. “From that standpoint, the pressure they’re going to put on is going to be on themselves more than anything.”
Giddins said he learned a lot from Selvie and Pierre-Paul, who formed one of the nation’s best pass rushing tandems last season.
“George taught me to use my speed a lot,” Giddins said. “That’s my big advantage. My arms are not that long. (But) they’re long enough for a defensive end, and I’m really fast.”
Giddins, who was rated as the fourth-best defensive end prospect in the nation out of high school by rivals.com, runs a 4.55 40-yard dash, an impressive mark for a defensive end.
Giddins said one of his main goals this spring was to get better with his hands and feet technique coming off the line.
Last season, injury and adjusting to college took a mental toll on Giddins, who said he couldn’t let the possibility of getting injured affect his game.
“Just pushing through that mental stage … If I get hurt, I’m not injured,” he said. “There’s a difference between being hurt and injured. Getting past that stage is what my goal is.”
Hargreaves said Giddins has thoroughly impressed him so far this spring.
“Great quickness, good motor, and very athletic,” Hargreaves said. “He’s got a world of talent, and he’s still learning. He’s still a work in progress, and that’s OK. I’ve been fortunate enough to be around many good players, and they all have to start out somewhere. They’re not necessarily the finished product right away. I like the fact he has upside because he’s going to do nothing but keep getting better and better.”
Taylor likely out for spring
USF coach Skip Holtz said Monday that he doesn’t think senior running back Jamar Taylor will participate in spring practice because of academic issues.
Taylor hasn’t practiced at all this spring.
“He’s got some work (to do) academically,” Holtz said after USF’s fourth spring practice. “I want to give him every opportunity to turn and make his grades and do the things he has to do … He’s got some work to do right now.”
Taylor, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, rushed for 300 yards on 62 carries (4.8 average) in 2008.
With Taylor’s status up in the air, USF is without two running backs who were expected to make significant contributions next season. The other, senior running back Mike Ford, was kicked off the team last month.
Barrington out with shoulder injury
Sophomore Linebacker Sam Barrington missed Monday’s practice with a “contusion” to his right shoulder, Holtz said Monday.
Barrington suffered the injury in a tackling drill during practice Friday, Holtz said.
“…It’s bruised. It’s kind of tender for him right now,” Holtz said. “We’re just going to have to play it day by day and see how that goes … It’s unfortunate because right now we need everybody we can to get every rep we can get out here.”
Holtz said redshirt freshman linebacker DeDe Lattimore has excelled in Barrington’s absence.
“I’ve really been impressed with him,” Holtz said. “I’ve been impressed with how he’s been able to step in his situation. It’s given him the opportunity to come along … That’s going to give us the opportunity to have a little more depth, and it’s going to help improve the team.”
Barrington, who played in every game last season and started in the season finale against Connecticut, is the front-runner for the starting middle linebacker this season.
Former coach Jim Leavitt called Barrington the best true freshman linebacker in USF history.