NCF Nation: Ruben Gonzalez

USF receiver group just got younger

October, 25, 2011
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What already was a young group of USF receivers just got younger with the news that Sterling Griffin will miss six to eight weeks with a fracture in his ankle.

Griffin was hurt in a loss to Cincinnati, and coach Skip Holtz feared the worst Monday during the Big East coaches call. That timetable means Griffin most likely will miss the rest of the season and would be available should the Bulls (4-3) make a bowl game. It really is a tough blow for the Bulls and Griffin, having a career year after missing all of last season with an injury to the same ankle.

Just a redshirt sophomore, Griffin was the veteran in the group of receivers USF has relied on most this season. He leads the team with 40 receptions for 493 yards, with two touchdowns, and ranks No. 4 in the Big East in receptions and yards per game. It is obvious how much he has become the go-to receiver on this team. Victor Marc is second on the team with just 18 receptions.

But several young players stepped up against the Bearcats and are going to be asked to do much more with Griffin out.

Redshirt freshman Deonte Welch set a career-high with 130 yards receiving on five receptions, and was able to get open and rip off big chunks of yards. True freshman Andre Davis had a career-high 60 yards on four catches, and his 10-yard touchdown reception with 1:27 left in the game put the Bulls up 34-30 before Cincinnati came back for the win.

True freshman Ruben Gonzalez also has made some contributions this season.

"It's going to be hard -- to lose a sophomore like that would be a blow, because he's really been playing well," Holtz said Monday, before knowing the full extent of Griffin's injury. "It's kind of forced guys like Andre Davis, Deonte Welch, Ruben Gonzalez to grow up, forced them to mature and grow up. ... To see the way a couple of the young guys are stepping up is really exciting. I would absolutely hate it for Sterling for everything he's been through. He's come back so strong and he's such a great young man. He's worked so hard to be here and has made such a huge impact on this team this season, it would be difficult to lose him. It definitely looks like that's going to be the case, at least for a couple weeks. Somebody's going to have to step up."

USF is off this week before playing at Rutgers on Nov. 5.

Big East practice report

August, 16, 2011
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Taking a look at practice around the league:

Cincinnati: Several freshmen have already impressed their teammates. One tradition during fall camp is for the young players to lose the stripes on their helmets when their "big brother" on the team feels they've earned it. On Monday, defensive back Trenier Orr had his stripe removed by Camerron Cheatham and receiver Shaq Washington had his stripe removed by Zach Collaros.

Connecticut: The Huskies have spent time shuffling around players on their offensive line to see who gives them the best fit. The only locks -- tackle Mike Ryan and center Moe Petrus. Everybody else has been shifted.

"We're moving people around, looking at our depth so that guys can play different positions," offensive line coach Mike Foley told the Hartford Courant. "A guy like Gary Bardzak can play both at guard and he can also play center so it gives you that flexibility so you can always get your five best on the field. A guy like Adam Masters who plays tackle but also is playing guard and that allows us, with (tackle) Kevin Friend, to get some work with that first group, move it around and see what our best combination of guys is and really take it from there."

Louisville: Freshman Lorenzo Mauldin has moved from defensive end to tight end. Mauldin was moved to give the Cardinals some bodies at that position because of injuries to Nate Nord and Stephon Ball. Both players are expected to return to practice in the next few days. In another position switch, tight end Jordan Tennyson has moved to defensive end. Receiver Michaelee Harris has been practicing with a soft cast on his thumb, but made a couple of great catches during team work Monday morning.

Pitt: The Panthers are going to go with Ryan Turnley at center and Chris Jacobson at guard, though the two are still competing at center. Coach Todd Graham said during the scrimmage Sunday there were four mishandled snaps, so Turnley has to keep working. Jacobson is getting reps at left guard with the starters and center with the second unit. Graham wants his starting five to play together this week. "We need to get to the point where five guys are repping together constantly as a unit," Graham said. Receiver Cameron Saddler and cornerback K'Waun Williams sat out practice Monday because they were "dinged up." Receiver Devin Street left practice early, but Graham didn't think the injury was serious.

Rutgers: Coach Greg Schiano still wants to see more out of his offensive line, even after an impressive rushing performance in the scrimmage Saturday. "We have to make sure we protect better, continue to protect better. We protected better than we have but not good enough for a game," Schiano said. Running back Jawan Jamison (hamstring) returned to practice but was limited. Meanwhile, receivers Brandon Coleman and Miles Shuler, defensive end Manny Abreu and running back Jeremy Deering all wore non-contact jerseys.

Syracuse: Some injured players have slowly started to make their return to the field for the Orange. Running back Prince-Tyson Gulley and Steve Rene were in full pads Monday. Both should be cleared for full contact soon. Safety Shamarko Thomas also is likely to be back on the field today, and cornerback Keon Lyn could return this weekend. Coach Doug Marrone was asked whether he was worried about any of his injured players being out for the opener Sept. 1. Offensive lineman Sean Hickey is out for the season, but Marrone also is worried about lineman Ian Allport because of the severity of his concussion.

USF: Quarterback B.J. Daniels participated fully in both practices Monday. Fullback Armando Sanchez has moved back to linebacker from fullback. Coach Skip Holtz said the decision to redshirt all the freshmen linebackers played into the decision. Holtz also singled out all the true freshmen he expects to play this season, including defensive tackle Elkino Watson and receivers Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez.

West Virginia: Coach Dana Holgorsen has had high praise for young running backs Vernard Roberts, Dustin Garrison, Trey Johnson and Andrew Buie. But the Mountaineers may not necessarily go with a running back by committee approach. Nor are they looking for somebody who is going to be an afterthought to the passing game. Running backs coach Robert Gillespie told the Times West Virginian: "We would like a guy we could strap the team on his back and go,” he said.

South Florida recruiting analysis

February, 3, 2011
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SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

The class

2011 signees: 21

Top prospects: Local receiver Andre Davis has a solid understanding of the position and was very productive in high school. Linebacker Edsel Caprice is active with a high motor, though he needs to put on some weight. Defensive tackle Elkino Watson picked the Bulls late over Miami and Louisville and should be solid inside.

Needs met: South Florida needed to bring in some receiver help and got that with Davis and Ruben Gonzalez. The Bulls also had to restock the offensive line and linebacking corps that were hit hard by graduation, and nearly half the class can play one of those positions.

Analysis: The Bulls didn't reel in any true blue-chip Florida athletes a la Terrence Mitchell or Todd Chandler last year, which is a bit surprising given Skip Holtz's success in his first year in Tampa. Ultimately, all that matters is if these players fit Holtz's system and lead to the Bulls' first Big East championship during their career. They will need these guys to develop and have the drive to be great. More success by Holtz should lead to better in-state recruiting efforts down the line.

What Holtz said: "When you look at a position standpoint, the biggest two needs that we had in this class and the answers we needed to solve were five offensive linemen and five linebackers. That was the main emphasis in this recruiting class as we hit the road recruiting and I think we did an awful lot to answer those questions.

Scouts Inc. grade: C

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