Lovett admits to being surprised at being named captain for the opening week.
"Yes. It's a blessing," he said. "You know, when they called my name it was like, 'Wow. I'm really going to be captain for the first game of the season. I'm just blessed and honored to be the captain for this team, and I'm going to go out there and represent my team well and give everything that I have."
Taliaferro was named the starter on last year's initial depth chart, but he didn't outrank Kevin Grooms, Steward Butler and Remi Watson. But when the Herd took on East Carolina in the final game of the season, Taliaferro accepted the challenge of being the team's only healthy back and gained 180 yards rushing and receiving.
He refuses to let his second-overtime fumble, which ultimately led to the Pirates' 65-59 victory, get him down. It has spurred him to have a good spring, a great summer of conditioning and a solid preseason camp. He likely will be listed as the top back, and it will mean a lot.
"This is my last go-around," he said. "So I try to put myself in the best situation to succeed, whether it be food, watching film, working out harder, no cutting reps - and also being a leader to the young guys."
That last item is a goal of just about every senior on this team. There seems to be a deeper urgency among the upperclassmen to exceed greater expectations, but to leave a great foundation.
"We're kind of looking at each other like, 'Man, if we don't do something this year as seniors, as leaders, we're going to leave not setting a good tone for these guys, a lot of young guys,' " Bazzie said. "In our mind, we're basically saying to ourselves, 'If we don't teach them to win, we feel like with this class having so many seniors and leadership on it, who else will?' "
Inside receiver Tommy Shuler said he has been fully cleared to play. Recovering from a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in a foot, he was eased into camp this month, running routes and performing other non-contact work last week.
Shuler had 110 catches last season, a school record.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.