Coach Alex Golesh took the field for his first practice session since being hired in December. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

USF football rallied behind the Indoor Performance Facility on Monday for the first time since November for its first spring training session, meaning coach Alex Golesh’s new era is in full swing.

Golesh has worked over the offseason to bring the pieces of the South Florida puzzle together, hiring a brand new coaching staff and pairing new players with returning players. Golesh said in a Tuesday news conference it was surreal to see how it all came together.

Part of this puzzle is the stadium on campus. Less than 24 hours after the Bulls’ cleats hit the turf, the Board of Trustees voted to approve the design-build agreement. USF will use up to $22 million to pay out the design phase for their ideal 35,000-seat stadium.

Tuesday’s vote, Golesh said, was the first time the stadium had been financially approved. He said he believes this is an important step in continuing its growth as a program.

“I think it’s imperative for us to take the next step as a program. Whatever that next step actually looks like… For me as head football coach, our next step is to train really well tomorrow. For a fan base and the university community, the next step is this stadium.”

As Golesh approached the Spring Games, a major benefit of the first practice session was the fast pace at which it was played. Golesh said he wants to train for longevity and urgency with hopes of running it in the fall.

On the offensive side of the ball, Golesh mentioned that fully evaluating quarterback position on day one would be unfair, especially considering how young the players are.

Junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon was spotted training Monday, but he’s still rehabilitating his shoulder from his injury last season while taking on Tulane. Nevertheless, as a long-serving role model, he is a firm hand for the coaches.

Golesh said he was impressed with two freshmen quarterbacks, Byrum Brown and Bryce Archie. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

Despite only having one practice, Golesh said the offensive line impressed him, even with the holes players like Brad Cecil and Demetrius Harris left.

Golesh said freshman Nikola Milovac caught the eye as a rookie on Monday, junior Derek Bowman impressed him more than he thought and RJ Perry “flashed” many times.

“Really, this whole group I thought did a really good job without pads. You see how fast they play. You see the guys coming off the ball,” Golesh said.

Defensively, the bulls recorded three turnovers on Monday. Golesh said he noticed the team set the culture for how defense should play, for running the football and for how they take the field.

Senior defenseman Rashad Cheney is also returning after suffering an ankle injury while watching Cincinnati on the road last season. Cheney said he felt playing under defensive coordinator Todd Orlando was one of the best defenses he’s ever been a part of.

“It’s very aggressive. [Orlando] is a very tough type of trainer and very demanding. But it’s also our job to do what he wants,” Cheney said.

A total of 15 training sessions will be completed before the spring game. Two more will follow on Monday and the other 12 will take place after spring break.

Although the team has only had one practice session, one of the biggest differences from last season, Cheney says, is the motivation Golesh brings to the team every day.

“He makes us want to run through a wall for him. The swag he brings, the mindset he brings… the guys in the building have a different attitude. He excites the boys,” said Cheney.

Lighting a team fire allows the Bulls to focus on training even if they aren’t playing games yet. USF suffered setbacks last season due to a lack of drive.

After the team had come together for four months, Golesh found that the players went to work very excited. He said he hopes they maintain that mindset as they dig deeper into their training regimen.

“The post-workout challenge for these guys was just keeping the energy through 15 workouts,” Golesh said. “I think the first day is easy, but what does two look like? What does three look like?

“There are no games, so there is no light at the end of the tunnel. But it’s still focused on us and our process and how we do things.”

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