By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
VERO BEACH - Eight days and 10 practices into the Bulls' training camp stay at Vero Beach Sports Village made for a workout that would make an onlooker cringe Wednesday morning.
Skip Holtz's squad spent more than half of the two-hour session going offense vs. defense after opening up the practice with plenty of running drills. Players were tired, emotions were all over the place and it wasn't always a sunny scene despite it possibly being the hottest day yet in camp.
"Football is a game of adversity and today was a day where we had a lot of adversity," senior linebacker Sam Barrington said. "How you respond to it in practice will be how you will respond to it in a game. It's very beneficial and this is why I think guys love that sport because this is not life and death, but it will teach you how to deal with it. There are hard times, but you have to stay in it."
Marathon days have taken a toll on even the fittest of players and Wednesday proved to be the perfect time for some of the team's strongest leaders to give their two cents during tough times.
"We're starting to really enter the dog days. It's easy the first couple of days and the last couple of days because you have incentive to do things, but right now is where you really find out what kind of team you have, what kind of leaders you have," senior linebacker Michael Lanaris said. "I just kind of want to be that little beacon of light when it's tough or it's hard because I'm an older guy and I've been doing this a long time. It's kind of my duty and my responsibility to get these guys going if we're slow. Sam (Barrington) does it, Kayvon (Webster) does it, and it doesn't have to be the same guy every time."
Barrington and Lanaris have played in a combined total of 75 games at USF since 2009. They've experienced a ton of highs and lows as Bulls and know it takes more than the coaching staff to keep a team together when things are far from perfect.
"Sometimes you just have to be that guy, especially being a leader it's normal," Barrington said.
College football is a prime platform for youth having immense amounts of responsibility. A lot of times 17- or 18-year-olds are the deciding factors in games that could mean a championship for a program and getting support from a guy in their same shoes could eventually lead to a trophy going into the case.
"It means so much to younger guys, a younger player or someone else in your position group, if you come at them the right way," Lanaris said. "You probably have a better relationship with that player. They are going to trust what you're saying because you're out there doing it."
Ciabatti Maintains His Footing
The first depth chart of the fall has been revealed, much to the enjoyment of media and fans, and one thing that has stayed the same since spring is the situation at punter.
Redshirt freshman Mattias Ciabatti has continued to compete with senior Justin Brockhaus-Kann and has held onto the job with less than three weeks to go before the season opener.
Ciabatti knows there is a lot more kicking to do before USF takes on UT-Chattanooga on Sept. 1, and he certainly isn't getting complacent because of what he went through last year. The former Hillsborough High School two-sport star was ahead of Brockhaus-Kann on the depth chart in USF's 2011 fall camp before the coaching staff decided to go with experience in the regular season.
"Last year I was a little young and excited to even be here. Now I know that it's serious, it's a big deal," he said. "I'm working hard to make sure that I stay around the top, so I can do what I couldn't do last year."
Quote of the Day
"If your coach is the one that's directing your team 24/7, then you're going to be limited." - Sam Barrington on the importance of having numerous players as leaders on and off the field.
Neville Clark Jr. -- @NEV_KingTutXO
First football game Sept. 1, see ya'll there. #USF #BullPride
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