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Bulls get settled quickly at Dodgertown
Posted Aug 9, 2010 by Scott Carter
Updated Aug 10, 2010 at 11:56 AM
VERO BEACH – In their first 24 hours here at the Vero Beach Sports Village, the USF Bulls appear to quickly have found a home away from home.
Shortly after arriving Sunday night, USF held team meetings and a team barbecue. The players also listened to the coaching staff talk about goals for the season and provide a history lesson about Dodgertown, the former spring training home of the Brooklyn and Los Angles Dodgers.
“This was built for a professional team to come to camp,’’ USF coach Skip Holtz said following Monday’s practice. “We’re not just at a camp. We’re at Dodgertown, and the legends that have walked across these fields and stayed in these dorm rooms and eaten in this dining facility. I think that’s part of what they need to understand. This is when you build a team.’’
Holtz told the team about Jackie Robinson and other great Dodgers who once played here in preparation for the season. While the facility is geared more for baseball, the Bulls had no problem with practicing in the outfield of one of the fields adjacent to Holman Stadium.
“I think the attitude and morale are great,’’ Holtz said. “The people here have been great. It’s a great set-up for our players right now.’’
MR. POPULARITY: The most popular player with the media on Monday was redshirt freshman receiver Isaac Virgin, who played in high school at nearby Fort Pierce Westwood. The same school also produced former major league catcher Charles Johnson.
Virgin’s parents and an uncle and cousin stopped by to watch the Bulls practice Monday. Despite his home only being about 10 minutes south down U.S. 1 from Vero Beach, Virgin can live with the fact he won’t be allowed to leave the complex for a home-cooked meal.
“I’m trying to get better every day of the week,’’ Virgin said. “I’m fully protein right now. I can’t go back to (home-cooked meals). I’ve got to keep my body healthy. There are a lot of things I wish I could eat, but I can’t go back to that right now.’’
PACE PICKS UP: The Bulls practiced in full pads for the first time on Monday. While Holtz limits how much live contact is allowed to try and keep players healthy, quarterback B.J. Daniels said he noticed a different mood.
“It picked up a little bit. Guys were bouncing around a little more excited,’’ Daniels said. “It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it’s as close to a live situation as we’re going to get.’’
INJURY REPORT: OL Jacob Sims, OL Jeremiah Warren and TE Chase Griffiths were held out of practice Monday for precautionary reasons. All three are suffering from concussion-like symptoms from contact earlier in camp.
The most notable players to struggle with heat-related issues Monday were DE Ryne Giddins, DT Cory Grissom and TE Jeff Hawkins. Giddins and Grissom returned for significant reps, but Hawkins sat out most of the afternoon.
Holtz is expected to add another walk-on to the roster in the next couple of days to replace WR Colby Erskin, who suffered a torn ACL on Saturday and is scheduled to have the fourth major knee surgery of his career soon.
BULLS BITS: USF 2010 signee Michael Hayes, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season at Blinn (Texas) Junior College, is reportedly headed to the University of Houston. Hayes was given his release from USF last week after failing to qualify academically for the fall semester … USF is holding its first two-a-day of fall camp today, practicing 8:45 to 10:45 in the morning, and then 7:10 to 9:30 tonight … Former Houston Astros general manager Tim Purpura, who now works for Minor League Baseball, attended part of Monday’s practice and spoke with Holtz. Minor League Baseball owns the Vero Beach Sports Village.