USF Preseason '08: Bulls RB Mike Ford

Mike Ford had a break out year as a freshman, leading all USF backs, and the Bulls are counting on Ford to be an impact again this year. We caught up with Mike and talked to him about the offseason, what he's worked on to get better, and more. Only on Get it First Get it fast!

All eyes last season were glued to true freshman Mike Ford, the most decorated recruit in the ten-year history of South Florida football. However, Ford spent most of his freshman year waiting for an opportunity to show what he could do as a starter. "Most people don't realize how far Mike had to cover with being out of football for awhile and had a lot of learning to do, " said Gregory. "He's made incredible strides since he's arrived."

Ford showed incredible potential and led all USF backs with 637 yards on 132 carries with 12 rushing TD's and one receiving, setting a new USF freshman record and one shy of tying the USF single-season rushing TD record. Even though Ford wasn't the anointed starter, in the last three games of the year he got his opportunity. Over the last three games Ford rushed for over 330 yards and scored six times, and was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week against Louisville. Ford is the first back to in USF's history to run for 100 yards in back-to-back games.

"Mike had a very good freshman year," said Gregory. "He showed us a lot of determination over the year, make the tough runs, and that he can win games for us."

This past spring, Ford looked jacked, and had a considerable increase in muscle mass then last season, especially in the upper body. During USF's spring game, Ford, led all backs with 56 yards on 14 carries including a long of 20-yards. "He's still has some flaws, and has to improve in the pass protection aspect," said Gregory. "But he's getting better everyday."

After the first session of preseason practice, USFNation caught up with the enigmatic back, who talked about going into his second year as a Bull.

"I feel pretty good. We worked real hard this summer getting ready for everything. We're out here now and it's hot, but we're getting through it. Got two-a-days coming up, but right now we're just getting through it one day at a time, so we can be ready."

Ford also touched on what the off-season summer conditioning was like for the sophomore back. "Oh man, I had a little struggles coming in because of my living arrangements, and getting here for weight training, but I'm just glad I'm here and looking forward to getting ready for the season with everybody."

Mike played last season at 225, led all backs in carries, yards and scores last year, and talked about the biggest changes he's made from last year.

"I'm 233 pounds, and I'm moving better, and faster, it's crazy. I'm just ready to go. I stayed in shape and did a whole lot of running. I think the whole team got a little faster this year."

Ford also said he's changed mentally. "Yes sir, I've made a lot. Getting the plays better then last year, knowing the plays and all that goes with it. Mentally, I'm ready to deliver right now."

The Bulls back says he sees a difference in the team this preseason, but the biggest change is all the new faces. "Yes sir, everybody's ready, but the biggest difference is we got a lot of new comers and they're working hard. Coming out of junior college and high school, they look pretty good."

After over a year in the program, Ford said he's is more comfortable in his role as running back. "It got pretty comfortable," said Ford. With everybody working that hard and being together for over a year and a half, everybody knows what we got, and we're looking forward to rolling with it."

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