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Zebold: Bulls Look To Replace Leadership At Linebacker

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    Bulls Look To Replace Leadership At Linebacker



    USF Senior Writer


    TAMPA, MARCH 2, 2014 – Spring practice serves as a great time to audition for USF’s newly opened spot at middle linebacker and the Bulls have tons of talent to check out from now through fall camp.


    The director of the defense role is vacant for the first time in a while due to the graduation of DeDe Lattimore, a four-year starter who led the team with 98 tackles last year and finished his career second all-time in career stops with 337.


    “We want to see those guys continue to improve and play consistently. We’re not asking them to be DeDe, we’re not expecting them to be DeDe,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “We want them to be themselves and try to be a leader, try to be a quarterback on that side of the ball.”


    Fortunately for the Bulls, they have a lot of names to choose from and defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan previewed the position battle in USF’s first week of spring practice.


    “Guys like Tashon Whitehurst, who is here right now and running with the ones. Ruben (Garcia), who was hurt last year and is fighting for it. You’ve got Hans Louis (out for the spring after knee surgery), who is still in the bullpen getting himself healthy. Those are guys that can compete that were here,” Bresnahan said.


    “Auggie Sanchez moved from fullback over to linebacker; there is another guy that’s played the position that really is a natural when it comes to football, he’s just got to learn the details of our defense,” Bresnahan continued. “Then you go out and have LaGrande Harley coming in and Nick Holman, who are other linebackers that have MIKE potential. We’ve got Juwuan Brown, we’ve got Josh Black. We’ve got some guys that can fill that inside role, but it gives you a lot of versatility.”


    Whitehurst has been a popular name for coaches to talk about so far this spring after the junior from Gainesville picked up 20 games of experience the past two seasons.


    Garcia is another player who is using reps to his advantage after missing much of the 2013 season with an ACL injury he suffered last spring. The redshirt senior from Plant City, Fla., has 16 games of collegiate experience and has seen most of his action on special teams.


    Like Whitehurst, Sanchez has seized the opportunity of equal reps this spring and caught Taggart’s eye in the Bulls’ first practice in full pads Saturday afternoon.

    “We’re watching Auggie today and he’s doing some things he didn’t do the last days and you’re like, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty neat,’” Taggart said. “We want to see those guys continue to improve and play consistently.”

    Sanchez, a redshirt freshman from St. Petersburg, is making the move from fullback to linebacker, which is much to the enjoyment of linebackers coach Raymond Woodie.


    "Auggie Sanchez I had a chance to recruit and he looked like a middle linebacker to me then,” Woodie said. “Coach Taggart wanted to try him on the other side of the ball last year, but I got him now, so I'm excited."


    Louis has to wait a bit to impress Taggart because of a knee injury, but the senior from Hollywood, Fla., gave coaches a good amount of game film to review after totaling 19 tackles in 11 games last season.


    USF put together the highest rated signing class in the American Athletic Conference earlier this year and four new Bulls give coaches a lot more to consider at middle linebacker before a starter is named.


    Harley, a junior from Durham, N.C., was rated a three-star recruit by Rivals after posting 36 tackles, three sacks, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble in 2013 at Georgia Military College.


    Holman, an incoming freshman from Madison, Ala., was named to the 2013 Alabama All-Star Team after registering 104 tackles and three sacks as a senior at Bob Jones High School.


    The Bulls didn’t have to travel far to see Brown’s playmaking ability while the incoming freshman earned first-team All-Hillsborough County honors at Tampa’s Jefferson High School. The three-star recruit collected 107 tackles and 20 sacks in his prep career after getting to the quarterback 12 times last season as an outside linebacker.


    Black also is well known in the Tampa area after being named Tampa Bay Times Defensive Player of the Year out of Sickles High School. The first-team all-state selection posted 103 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013.


    “I’ll tell you, we’re in a position now where we have competition at every position, that’s awesome,” Taggart said. “Guys should be screaming to come out here and play football and have an opportunity to play. I think that’s why we’re going to get better at that position because of competition. Those guys have to know, ‘I have an opportunity to play, but I can’t take a day off.’”


    USF’s depth at linebacker is bolstered with the return of two Bulls that did a lot of work from the outside last season.


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    Every position needs a lot of improving.

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    Jun 02, 2014 | 10:13 am

    Holman Poised to Make Instant Impact at USF

    Corey BenderUSFNation Field Reporter

    At 6-foot-2, 235-pounds, Nick Holman has the frame and skill-set to make an instant impact at linebacker for the University of South Florida this fall. The incoming freshman talks about an additional sport and the workouts that help him become a better football player, his contact with the Bulls' coaching staff, who he plans on rooming with in Tampa Bay, and much more below.

    Since inking with the University of South Florida earlier this year after a stellar prep career at Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones High School, 6-foot-2, 235-pound Nick Holman has kept his foot on the gas and continues to hone his craft before making the move to the Sunshine State later this month.

    "I have a trainer up here named Andy McCloy," Holman said. "He trains some NFL guys and some of the local Division I athletes in a bunch of different sports. He's been working with me specifically over the past year. I think I'm going to go into strength and conditioning after college, so I've been kind of learning stuff from him.

    "Football wise, I've been following the conditioning packet (USF) sent. I've been running on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Other than that, I've been watching some film of myself from last year, trying to think about things to get better."

    Holman also participates in another sport to help enhance his skills to become a productive inside linebacker early on in his career in Tampa Bay.

    "I've been boxing to work on my footwork, hand speed, and it's just fun to do," Holman said. "It's a really good workout and it's stuff I do everyday."

    Raymond Woodie, South Florida's linebacker coach and one of the American Athletic Conference's finest on the recruiting trail, is excited to get his hands on the hard-hitting Yellowhammer State linebacker, and the two parties speak frequently.

    "I stay in contact with coach Woodie a lot," Holman said. "I talk to him real often. He sent me some of the playbook, like the basic 3-4 we switched to. I've been going over that and talking about what I'll be doing and stuff like that.

    "He's been keeping up with my weight every now and then, what type of running I'm doing, and stuff like that."

    Holman plans on arriving in Florida on June 23 and hopes to snag a starting spot sometime during his freshman campaign. The linebacker will also spend the next 4-5 years in the dorms with early enrollee defensive back, Devin Abraham.


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    Nice update on holman. Lots of opportunity to see the field on defense. Vincent Jackson could also be a hybrid guy we are looking for to make an impact. Gotta think the MLB position is wide open even with sanchez impressing.

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    Hopefully the Hillsborough County DPOY can come in and help fill the void as well.

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    Competition good, looking forward to seeing these guys get on the field.

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