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Healthy competition fuels football spring practices

USF coach Alex Golesh said the team has begun practicing in full pads. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

As South Florida football approaches the halfway mark of spring ball, good attitudes and healthy competition have been positives that Bulls coach Alex Golesh has noticed.

Now that USF is hearing pads pop at practice, Golesh said he views the team as a competitive group that loves the game, making them a fun squad to coach.

“When you take a job in this state, these young guys…Florida kids, Georgia kids… grow up playing ball and so they love the ball part. The heat is questioning whether they love the ball, that’s where the mental toughness part has to come out,” he said.

Recruiting locally has been a priority for Golesh, especially since Florida has unrestricted open enrollment for public schools. Golesh said he has a lot of respect for high school football coaches, and when he was hired, he tried to talk to as many local high schools as possible.

Golesh said he has invited every single coach he has spoken with to pay a visit to USF to see their football program.

“This is the fifth time I’ve been part of taking over a program. The story is literally the same every single time. ‘Man, the local school didn’t recruit the local high schools. Those kids all got overlooked and look at these kids that left and did something.’ It’s a scripted deal,” Golesh said.

Local recruits add to that healthy competition that Golesh said is enjoyable to coach. That contest is also found in the quarterback room.

While Golesh said they are nowhere near naming a starting quarterback, the group has embraced the rivalry during spring practices.

“That competition has been awesome to see those guys are competing like crazy, but they’re also supporting each other. I didn’t realize that room was actually as close as they are, especially when you bring in a transfer like [freshman quarterback] Bryce,” he said.

Junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon has been doing everything at practice except throwing the football. Golesh said he started throwing tennis balls instead on Monday. Since he is still rehabbing from his shoulder injury, Bohanon practices on his own 10 yards behind the rest of the quarterbacks. Because of this, Bohanon is getting close to three times as many reps compared to the others.

Bulls coach Alex Golesh said he sees freshman quarterbacks Bryce Archie and Byrum Brown talking and learning from each other at practice. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown has also had a great seven practices in Golesh’s eyes.

“He’s grown every day, he’s improved every day and he’s not making the same mistake twice. He’s generally taking care of the football. He’s making good decisions,” Golesh said.

Golesh said the healthy competition and growth the Bulls are showing has been the biggest positive of spring practices thus far. Much of what USF is seeing at practice is their first time doing so, Golesh said. From studying organization and expectations of the drills, Golesh sees how it can be stressful having new coaches come in.

Nevertheless, he said their willingness to get better has made him optimistic.

“I think with that comes a little bit of anxiety from the guys. I feel like my job as the head coach is to lessen the anxiety, and then let them just go play,” Golesh said.

“I think the intent, the attitude and the effort of which they’re coming out with has been really relatively elite.”