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Scrimmage is key to depth chart

Posted Aug 14, 2010 by Scott Carter

Updated Aug 13, 2010 at 11:30 PM

VERO BEACH— The University of South Florida’s first scrimmage of fall practice, which is at 11 a.m. today and open to the public, will go a long way in determining the makeup of several positions, Coach Skip Holtz said Friday after his team’s ninth consecutive day of practice and sixth at the Vero Beach Sports Village.

“There’s quite a few (position battles) going on with the twos across the board. There’s a couple of starting jobs that are being competed for but predominantly it’s the twos and the threes, and that line is big right now,” Holtz said. “That’s what this scrimmage this early is all about because once this line is drawn, then we start to develop scout teams and who we start to work with. The next scrimmage isn’t, ‘OK, you get your opportunity again.’ ”

Holtz said he plans to knock some rust off the first-teamers by giving them about 20 plays each. The second- and third-teamers will see 40 each.

“This is a big scrimmage for a lot of these guys,” Holtz said. “After the scrimmage is when we’ll really sit down and develop the depth chart and make the decisions for a lot of these guys — who’s going to redshirt and who’s going to have the opportunity to play.”

One of the most unsettled positions remains wide receiver, a position of little depth after projected starters A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin went down to injury. Holtz acknowledged a huge battle in the works for four second-team slots. Freshman Deonte Welch, junior T.J. Knowles, senior Faron Hornes, redshirt freshman Isaac Virgin, sophomore Victor Marc, redshirt freshman Derrick Hopkins and freshman Stephen Bravo-Brown are in the mix.

At running back, junior Joel Miller and redshirt freshman Bradley Battles are close for the third spot, and there’s a back-and-forth battle between freshmen Jamius Gunsby and Bobby Eveld as QB B.J. Daniels’ backup, Holtz said.

On defense, Holtz said both starting cornerback positions are up for grabs. Junior Quentin Washington, sophomore Kayvon Webster, freshman Terrence Mitchell and redshirt sophomore George Baker are in the mix.

Holtz said only senior Craig Marshall has solidified a defensive end position while five others — redshirt freshmen Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte, and juniors Patrick Hampton, David Bedford and Claude Davis — are competing for the other starting job.

“They’re all up for grabs,” Holtz said. “Just some are a whole lot closer than others as we get into this. This is a game of productivity and you’re evaluated every day in your performance, not your personality.”

Battle to watch

There are several good position battles to watch in today’s scrimmage, but defensive tackles coach Kevin Patrick will spend much of his time focused on the one between DTs Anthony Hill and Luke Sager.

“They have been battling each other left and right all camp,” Patrick said. “It’s been extraordinary. They are getting more and more consistent in what they are doing. It’s not easy right now for these guys. They’ve got a lot of battling going on.”

Hill and Sager are competing for spots behind projected starters Cory Grissom and Keith McCaskill.

Hawkins returns

Sophomore TE Jeff Hawkins, the projected starter coming out of the spring, returned to practice Friday. Hawkins had not practiced since the team arrived in Vero Beach on Sunday due to concussion-like symptoms.

“I felt good. I hadn’t run in a while, so my legs are real fresh and my head is feeling good, too,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said it will be up to the training staff how much he participates in today’s scrimmage, but that he is ready to get back on the field to challenge for playing time.

“After the scrimmage is done, we’ll probably find out where the depth chart is going to lay,” he said Friday. “After that, depending on where I am, I’m still going to continue to fight.”

Bulls bits

Holtz is breaking camp for the only time during the team’s stay in Vero Beach, leaving after today’s scrimmage to throw out the first pitch at tonight’s Orioles-Rays game at Tropicana Field before returning to Dodgertown immediately afterward. … Knowles didn’t practice Friday so he could regain some of the 7 pounds he lost this week from practicing in mid-90 temperatures. … The Bulls return to practice at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Phil Neary, Scott Carter

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