USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Summer is a time people can't wait to get started and hope it doesn't end.
Lelo Prado wasn't one of those people this year.
USF's sixth-year head baseball coach saw his Bulls miss out on the Big East Tournament for the first time since he's been with the program.
It didn't sit well with the passionate Prado, who posted 30-plus win seasons in his first three at USF and saw the Bulls scratch out only 25 in an injury riddled 2011 campaign.
"I couldn't wait for this summer to get over with," he said Monday. "... I didn't come here to not win conference championships."
There is a lot of light at the end of the tunnel for Prado's Bulls, however.
USF is in the midst of a fall camp and equipped with something Prado has never had as a Bull - a very deep roster. A great mix of youth and veteran players make up a roster of 45 that eventually will be cut down to 35 before the season begins in February.
"Since I've been here, I've never had a game where we didn't have to put pitchers out in the outfield because we didn't have enough bodies," Prado said. "Right now we have two to three players at every position and it's a competition."
A large number of young players is already paying dividends for the veterans.
One player that stands out to Prado is sophomore outfielder James Ramsay, who batted .250 in 51 games last season.
"He's come back with just an unbelievable attitude out on the field and I think that's going to show this year," said Prado of the Brandon native. "We need him to play big this year."
Prado also noted returners Alex Mendez (outfield) and Daniel Rockhold (catcher) had great summers and have benefitted from younger Bulls looking to win playing time at their positions.
"We're happy with where they are at, but we have a lot of young guys pushing them," Prado said. "That's the reason they are playing better."
Chad Taylor, another veteran, will be playing another position in 2012.
"We needed him in the outfield for two years," Prado said. "I told him his junior year he'd probably get a chance to play shortstop."
What has followed has been an offseason filled with hard work, especially on offense, and it's already showing this fall.
"So far I couldn't be happier with him," Prado said.
USF was hit hard by injuries last season at the pitcher position and Prado is happy to see some of his guns returning to form. Senior Andrew Barbosa, redshirt sophomore Ray Delphey and redshirt senior Derrick Stultz all return to the staff and will be looking to stay healthy this season.
Prado hopes that will be the case because of USF's pitching potential that's under the watchful eyes of assistant coach Chuck Hernandez.
"Chuck thinks we're a better staff from top to bottom than we were last year at this time," Prado said.
And while fall is a time of hope for college baseball teams, it's also a time to show coaches how much you want to win.
"A lot of guys have come back in great shape and were pretty miserable about what happened last season," Prado said. "A lot of guys took it to heart and came back ready to go."