For a group of 13 former USF football players, Tuesday was one of the biggest days of their lives.
USF hosted its Pro Timing Day, an event where NFL scouts and talent evaluators gather on campus to watch some of last years seniors work out in hopes of beginning a career in the NFL.
Among the guests on hand were New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, Hall of Famer and Arizona Cardinals associate head coach Russ Grimm and representatives for 10 NFL teams.
There were a lot of scouts out here to watch us and support us, offensive lineman Chaz Hine said. Im a bit nervous out here, as every guy is. If youre not, theres something wrong with you. This is one of the most important days of our lives. This is the beginning of a career path, or at least hopefully.
Hine worked along with fellow offensive linemen Jeremiah Warren and Kevin McCaskill, as well as Darrell Scott, Saki Mihalakos, Sharly Azard, Tyson Butler, Patrick Hampton, Keith McCaskill, Mike Walsh, Quenton Washington, Jerrell Young and A.J. Love.
Scott, who was the only Bull invited to the NFL Draft Combine in Indianapolis, improved his 40-yard dash time from the 4.73 seconds he ran at the Combine to 4.59.
It went great, Scott said. They wanted to see if I had any durability because Im a bigger back. I had a pulled quad at the NFL Combine, so I wanted to show scouts I can run better than 4.73.
Also impressive in the individual workouts was Warren, who completed 28 reps of the 225-pound bench press.
With the end of the workouts came relief for players whove been working toward it since the season ended.
I felt like it was a test that you studied for weeks for, Washington said. You feel like youre prepared. You just want to go out and take the test. Ive been training since Jan. 2 to get to this day. Im relieved it came and I performed the way I wanted to. Im ready to see where that takes me.
Spring practice opens today
Coach Skip Holtz and his staff open football spring practice today at the Morsani Practice Facility. The Bulls will work today and Friday without pads before fully dressing for the first time Saturday.
One of the biggest aspects of spring practice this year will be adapting to changes on the coaching staff, with two new coaches arriving and three returning coaches now placed in new roles.
The new coaches are defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who arrives from Kansas State and replaces Mark Snyder, and wide receivers coach Jerome Pathon, who replaces Phil McGeoghan.
Chris Cosh is really doing a nice job and jelling well defensively with the chemistry and everybody getting along in the room and getting the defense down and getting everybody on the same page, Holtz said. The same thing is true of Jerome Pathon, who came in a little bit later, learning the offense and getting to know the players. Its really been a smooth transition.
The offensive staff will also have a new look, as offensive coordinator Todd Fitch will also work with the quarterbacks, instead of coaching the running backs, as he has in the past. Former quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas moves to become tight ends coach, replacing Larry Scott, who will now work with the running backs.
I think its been very difficult for coach Fitch to coordinate from the running back position, so he felt really strongly about wanting to be with the quarterbacks, Holtz said. Having guys like coach Vaas and Larry Scott, who are really good football coaches and can coach a variety of different positions, gave us some flexibility to put everybody in the right situation.
Odds and ends
The Bulls will again have three scrimmages during the spring season, highlighted by an on-campus exhibition April 14 and the spring game at Raymond James Stadium on April 21. Most players are healthy, though DB Chris Bivins Jr. and Ricardo Dixon will miss the spring while recovering from ACL injuries. In addition, OL James Hamilton (ankle) and Thor Jozwiak (back), as well as S Jon Lejiste (undisclosed) and WR Chris Dunkley (wrist) will be limited. OL Boo Simon, who redshirted last year, has medically withdrawn from USF after suffering seizures in mid-February and his future with the team is unknown. Holtz announced two definite position changes, but said more may happen during the spring. Former quarterback Ryan Eppes is now a linebacker, while Clavion Nelson has moved from defensive end to defensive tackle.
Go to the Oracle’s Multimedia page to see a photo gallery of this event.