TAMPA – After a year’s absence, due to an irregular heartbeat, University of South Florida offensive lineman Thor Jozwiak has returned to the practice field.
“I feel like a football player again,’’ Jozwiak said Wednesday morning.
And he’s a football player the Bulls can surely utilize.
Last summer, after earning five starts at offensive guard in his freshman season of 2012, Jozwiak was a solid first-team player. But he couldn’t explain the light-headedness he occasionally felt. Eventually, the medical staff detected a problem with his heart. He was sidelined, then underwent surgery.
Now he’s back – and feeling 100 percent.
“The one group where we didn’t have (enough) competition was offensive line,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart said. “We never really got a chance to evaluate Thor. He’s very strong. He brings a different mentality to our offensive line.
“When it’s your heart, you don’t question that or anything. You let him and the doctors do what they have to do. He was down for a while. He wanted to be out here. Now he’s back and looking great.’’
Jozwiak, up to 322 pounds after a solid offseason in the weight room, said he initially “felt like a diesel engine in the cold. It took me a while to get going. Now I feel like I’m fuel injected and ready to go.’’
He also said the episode “took me from a boy to a man.’’
“When I was going through my struggles, I started doing a lot of research on ancient times,’’ Jozwiak said. “A lot of things they would do pre-battle, they’d shave their heads into Mohawks to intimidate their opponent. So I shaved my head into a Mohawk because every time I wake up in the morning, I look myself in the mirror and I just realize what I’ve got to do every single day.
“It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be a grind. But Coach T is my leader and I’m going to battle for him.’’
USF’s men’s golf team used the best 54-hole performance in program history to finish second in the USF Invitational on Tuesday at Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club.
The Bulls had a three-round total of 833, which trailed Florida State (823). USF took a nine-stroke lead into the final day, but Bulls coach Chris Malloy said, “I don’t think it was us losing it by any means and our hats go off to them (FSU, which shot a 264, the best team round of the tournament, on the final day).
FSU’s Jack Maguire, the individual champion, fired a final-round 62. For USF, Chase Koepka was tied for fifth (68-67-71-206).
USF’s previous best 54-hole effort occurred in the 2003-04 season, when Coach Jim Fee’s team was 28-under-par at the Fall Beach Classic.
Taggart said DE Eric Mayes, originally a 2013 recruit from Sarasota, has been ruled a partial qualifier by the NCAA. Mayes will attend school this year, but can’t play until 2015. …USF’s football team holds an open practice on Saturday at Bradenton’s Manatee High School – Taggart’s alma mater – from 2:30 to 5 p.m. …Longtime former USF assistant Kevin Patrick, who led the Bulls from the Tampa Stadium tunnel during the program’s inaugural game in 1997, has joined North Texas as defensive line coach. Patrick, a Jim Leavitt and Skip Holtz assistant who wasn’t retained by Taggart, will be among a fleet of former USF staffers with the Mean Green – head coach Dan McCarney, offensive coordinator Mike Canales and offensive line coach Mike Simmonds. Also on the UNT staff, receiver coach Mike Grant, a former QB at Brandon High and Nebraska.
Jose Fernandez’s women’s basketball team (18-11, 13-5) leaves today for the American Athletic Conference Tournament in Uncasville, Conn. The No. 3-seeded Bulls, hoping for the program’s second consecutive NCAA Tournament at-large bid, open in Saturday night’s quarterfinals against Temple at 8. …For the third consecutive time, USF senior LHP Sara Nevins was named AAC Pitcher of the Week. She was 3-0 with an 0.42 ERA at the Under Armour Invitational. Bulls SS Kourtney Salvarola was named AAC Player of the Week (eight runs, nine hits, two home runs, six RBIs).