By Times Staff Writers Times Wires
Published August 21, 2004
GAINESVILLE - A recent string of nagging injuries to first-team running backs has given a freshman the opportunity to catch the eye of his coaches.
Markus Manson, a touted recruit from Alabama, has seen time running with the starters and is making the most of his shot under the coaches' microscope. Although running backs coach Mike Locksley was quick to point out Manson's lapses in pass protection, he has been largely impressed with the young speedster.
"He has kind of confirmed what we saw on tape," Locksley said. "He is a very explosive guy that has some natural ability and instincts. He is a guy who can do all of the things we expect him to do, it's just a matter of him getting comfortable and confident in the offense."
LEWIS UPDATE: Wide receiver Reggie Lewis, who was taken to Shands at the University of Florida at Gainesville Wednesday after complicating an existing illness through exertion, remained hospitalized while undergoing testing.
"They are going to keep him one more night," said coach Ron Zook, who had said that he expected Lewis to be released Friday and practicing within a week.
- BRIAN SHAFFER, Times correspondent
FSU: Better and worse
TALLAHASSEE - The revolving door of injured players continued turning during practice.
Back on the field were guard Ron Lunford, who missed several practices with a sprained ankle, and cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who returned after sitting out two days with a hip injury. And tight end Matt Henshaw (collarbone) returned, wearing a blue noncontact jersey.
But a couple of linemen had their practice cut short. East Lake graduate Matt Meinrod, the returning starter at split guard, was limited because of a bruised collarbone, but is expected to dress today for a scrimmage in Doak Campbell Stadium marking the final practice before classes start on Monday.
No diagnosis was reported on center Brian Ross, who was seen on the sideline with ice on his left shoulder.
CHANGE OF PLANS: Late afternoon thunderstorms forced the Seminoles to hold their second practice of the day inside, where they met for team meetings and a walkthrough.
CANDIDATE: Junior linebacker A.J. Nicholson was named as one of 65 candidates for the Butkus Award.
- ZACHARY SPAIN, Times correspondent
USF: Scrimmage counts
TAMPA - USF plans its first full scrimmage this morning, running about 100 plays with the first-team offense against the second-team defense and vice versa.
"This will be the first real, graded, microscopic scrimmage," coach Jim Leavitt said after his team's final two-a-day on Friday. "We'll really grade it close."
Leavitt said several freshmen are already listed as top backups, including receivers Johnny Peyton and Jackie Chambers, safety Danny Verpaele and offensive linemen Jake Griffin and Martin Dyal. Among the top four running backs are Ricky Ponton and Andre Copeland.
THIS AND THAT: Cornerback Willie Phelps of Sarasota, who signed with North Carolina in February but opted to play closer to home at USF, has been cleared by the NCAA to play. Running back Chad Simpson of Miami attended practice as a spectator Friday but has not been cleared . . . Leavitt said he has no plans for any players who were arrested this summer to be suspended from the season opener against Pittsburgh. "You'll notice one guy's no longer with us," Leavitt said, referring to linebacker Dorrean James, who has since enrolled at Texas Southern. "The guys know I'm pretty strict. If those guys hit one more, it won't be "miss three games.' It'll be "find another school.' "
- GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer
UCF: Jockeying for position
ORLANDO - Senior Josh Stephens continued to work with the first-team defense at middle linebacker Friday, adding size and strength. During Thursday's tackling drills vs. the running backs, Stephens recorded the best hit of the drill.
Also on the first-team defense Friday was freshman defensive tackle Emeka Okammor, who has rotated with freshman Keith Shologan on the first-team unit the last few practices.
Freshman quarterback Kyle Israel was in for several snaps with the first-team unit, along with sophomore Steven Moffett.
- TIMES WIRES
Miami: Top transfer
CORAL GABLES - Miami coach Larry Coker continued to praise the play of redshirt freshman Greg Olsen, who transferred from Notre Dame in September and figures to be the Hurricanes' second tight end behind senior Kevin Everett.
"He is a freshman, but he plays like he is an NFL rookie," Coker said. "We felt like Greg was the best tight end in America when he came out of high school, and we were very disappointed when we didn't sign him. To get him back has been a tremendous addition for us. We have had some standout players this fall, but without question, he is one of the best."
TWO-A-DAYS: Miami held two separate two-hour workouts, the afternoon session in full pads. "The team is a little tired and leg weary, but they should be. With the alternate two-a-day practices, they should get rested and have a great afternoon practice," Coker said.