After an offseason that felt far too long to coach Skip Holtz, the University of South Florida football team officially begins its new season today with the opening of training camp on campus.
Coming off a 5-7 season (1-6 in the Big East) and missing a bowl game for the first time in seven years, Holtz said the excitement level of starting anew is high.
"Right now, there's a lot of energy in this building," he said. "Walking through, there are a lot of players reporting. Seeing the smiles on everybody's faces, there's just a lot of excitement and a lot of energy among this team. I know everybody has been waiting for this for a long time. … I was ready to start this season on Dec. 8 of last year."
Practice officially opens today and continues on campus through Tuesday before the Bulls head to Vero Beach on Wednesday to begin an 11-day stay there. The first preseason scrimmage will be a week from today with another Aug. 18.
The Bulls will return to campus following that scrimmage and hold their annual Fan Fest and practice on Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 19.
Now a senior, QB B.J. Daniels echoed Holtz's sentiment that the team is excited to get underway.
"We're excited," he said. "We're really ready to go. Seeing all the guys' faces puts a smile on my face."
Seven new walk-ons will join the program today, having not been with the team in either spring practice or summer workouts. Those players will help to offset the loss of six former scholarship players who are not returning.
OL John McGhin graduated Saturday and is no longer with the team. Also gone are DBs Ricardo Dixon, Spencer Boyd and Jarvis McCall, WR Stephen Bravo-Brown and TE Isaac Virgin.
McCall will return to the team next spring after family issues arose this summer, according to Holtz.
Former walk-on WR Jordan Duval remains suspended and is not with the team following his arrest for an on-campus theft in July.
Holtz said the team only has two injuries as it opens camp with both stemming from spring practice. DT Cory Grissom (ankle) and DE Anthony Hill (ACL) are both recovering on schedule and could be able to return for the season opener and midseason, respectively. … Though coach Vernon Hargreaves remains responsible for the majority of special teams, Holtz said he's given the other coaches more special teams responsibilities than ever before.