Coach: Jim Leavitt
35-20-0, 5 years
2001 Record: 8-3
at Northern Illinois LOST 17-20
at Pittsburgh WON 35-26
at Memphis LOST 9-17
at Utah LOST 21-52

2001 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

Marquel Blackwell has been favorably compared to Woodrow Dantzler, yet a tad more accurate. (photo courtesy of South Florida Athletic Department)
2002 Outlook

USF wrote the book on football for dummies. If universities want a crash course on how to be successful in big time college athletics fast, look no further than Tampa. Not only have the Bulls risen to become a team to reckon with on Saturdays, but it also appears coaches have been able to supply enough yeast to keep the talent and expectations rising, and 2002 looks to be another scenario of just a season's past. With an 8-3 campaign last fall, which included a huge early upset over Pittsburgh at new Heinz Field in the Steel City, the USF expectations look to be much the same for the upcoming season even with a more difficult schedule. The quarterback - receiver combinations are some of the best in the business as four to five top flight athletes will line up on the outside of the offensive haystack to catch the darts tossed by All-American Candidate Marquel Blackwell. Numerous stars twinkle the defensive skyline up front. The defensive end combinations are freaks of nature with Daley and Pierson. The linebackers have one of the best in Mitchell. Don't misunderstand the situation; the Bulls have their share of concerns. Running down the short list: A running game needs to develop by having one of the RB by committee members step up and become a "goto" guy, the offensive line is unproven and has a definite capability of hindering success, overall depth on defense is extremely thin, and the defensive backs must locate new playmakers. The past two-year schedule was simply custom made for the type of season USF had, but remember that this program is only in its second season as a Division I-A member. That luxury becomes a little more complicated for 2002, as a few heavy hitters have been added to the schedule lineup. For that we say kudos to USF as this program is seriously on the fast track to becoming a major contender. But let's really cut to the chase. The answers to questions people want to know are: Does USF stand a chance at becoming a national power hitter and can the victory at Pittsburgh last season become a consistency? The answer to the first is a big OH YEA in the long run, no doubt about it at this current pace. Of course many folks felt the same about the UCF program and the Golden Knights have provided some descent seasons, but are still a long haul away from becoming a national contender. These next couple of years for the Bulls should set a nice foundation upon which to build. Do not look for them to become a high roller in the national sweepstakes anytime soon, however there is enough talent to become one of your top mid majors in the short term. When you glance over some of the better athletes on the current South Florida roster, we guarantee you many, if not most of them, could start on just about any top 25 team in the country. For now, in answer to the later question, outside of a trip to Norman, not one single team on the 2002 schedule is unbeatable for USF, and that is a statistical fact. The number of shooting stars on this year's roster is remarkable. Watch for these young men to shine and don't be surprised upon reading the scores this upcoming fall in the Sunday paper.

Projected 2002 record: 8-3

QB - 4.5 DL - 4
RB - 3.5 LB - 3.5
WR - 4.5 DB - 2.5
OL - 2 ..

Passing: Marquel Blackwell, 258-456-11, 2882 Yards, 20 TD's

Rushing: Clenton Crossley, 88 att., 380 yds., 7 TD's

Receiving: Huey Whittaker, 52 rec., 548 yds., 2 TD's

Scoring: Marquel Blackwell, 9 TD's, 54 pts.

Punting: Devin Sanderson, 58 punts, 39.6 avg.

Kicking: Santiago Gramatico, 3-11 FG, 44-52 PAT, 53 pts.

Tackles: Kawika Mitchell, 106 tot., 59 solo

Sacks: Shurron Pierson, 10 sacks

Interceptions: J.R. Reed, 5 for 48 yards

Kickoff returns: Hugh Smith, 10 ret., 29.2 avg.

Punt returns: DeAndrew Rubin, 26 ret., 15.6 avg


Special thanks to the people at for their assistance in putting this preview together.
OFFENSE: Mike Snellgrove-OT, Matt Sparrowhawk-OG, Jimmy Fitts-OL, Derrick Rackard-RB
DEFENSE: Tchecoy Blount-DL, Anthony Williams-MLB, Bernard Brown-CB, Joe Morgan-SS

written by S. Bien

The offense revolves around Marquel Blackwell. A post-season award hopeful, Marquel is a resilient, hardworking young man, who is nearly as driven and ambitious as he is elusive. He has been favorably compared to Woodrow Dantzler, yet a tad more accurate (comparison given by Rod Smith, USF QB Coach who also coached Woodrow). He throws to a stable of wide receivers who, although lack name recognition, possess the speed and skills comparable to most SEC and ACC schools. Leading the pack running routes is DeAndrew Rubin, who simply wreaked havoc in the first two games of 2001 against Northern Illinois and Pittsburgh. He was injured in the Pittsburgh game, and never regained his true form until the end of the year. Returning with Rubin is 2001 leading receiver Huey Whittaker, who is a huge target at 6-5, 220 lbs. with great hands and good speed. The remaining compilation of returning wide receivers is full of players loaded with exceptional tools and talent.

USF returns three running backs that all saw varying time last year. The primary starter last year was Clenton Crossley, a shifty bruiser that uses his 5-10 frame to its fullest. The next in line is Callum, a JUCO transfer scat back who originally signed with Florida State out of high school. The best ball carriers could be Georgia Bulldog transfer, DeJuan Green. Mr. Green sat out last year, but was considered by many recruiting analysts as the #1 running back out of the Sunshine State in 1999. He was a Parade All-American and Super Prep All-American. Green has big time explosiveness, with world-class speed to match. He is expected to give USF a boost of quickness in the backfield.

The offensive line is young, and the only area that was depleted from graduation. Lost were starters Fitts, Sparrowhawk, and Snellgrove. In their place are Newton (replacing Sparrowhawk at guard, started 3 games as a true freshman), Frank Davis (quicker, stronger, and slightly bigger than Snellgrove, although Snellgrove had better footwork), and Houston. The returning starters are Sarosi (started all 11 games at tackle, and at 6-6, 305 is developing into one of the best tackles in the South as a sophomore); the other starter is Herron at center, another young talent who started eight games at center as a redshirt freshman. During his tenure at center there were no snapping issues and the team yielded zero sacks against Pittsburgh when Herron was calling the line assignments. This year Herron returns bigger, stronger, and more experienced. Expect the offensive line to start slow, but the experience and talents of Herron, Newton, and especially Sarosi should carry the front line to loftier expectations.

Lastly, the tight end position has been a bit of a revolving door for USF. Often times not a highly utilized receiving position in USF's spread offense, it does possess one of USF's best athletes. Tim Jones was originally a Miami commitment out of high school. He was the #1 tight end out of the state in 2000 and generally rated as one of the top five recruits east of the Mississippi at his position. He is a svelte 6-4, 245 lbs. with, believe it or not, a 4.59 speed (clocked in the spring at 240lbs). He has great hands and was also an All-American candidate as a linebacker in high school, so he is very athletic and versatile. Behind Jones is Casey Cobb, a good-sized tight end that has battled injuries since his switch from quarterback.

Overall, USF possesses enough speed and home run threats at the skill positions to keep any team honest. The key to success for USF lies in the maturation of their young offensive line and having more success running the ball, thus controlling the clock better. Marquel now has two years under his belt in this system. Coupling his experience and abilities together should carry this team into a 7-4 season at a minimum. If the line matures quicker than expected and a consistent running game is found, who knows the upside!?!


Returning Starters in Bold
QB Marquel Blackwell-Sr Ronnie Banks-So
RB Clenton Crossley-So Quinton Callum-Jr / Vince Brewer-Jr
WR Huey Whittaker-Jr Brian Fisher-So
WR Ryan Hearn-Sr DeAndrew Rubin-Sr (academics ??)
WR Chris Iskra-Jr Hugh Smith-Sr
TE Tim Jones-So Casey Cobb-Jr
OT Derrick Sarosi-So Frank Davis-Fr
OG Devon Small-So Mark Sopcik-So
C Alex Herron-So Jason Lehman-Jr
OG Chris Carothers-Fr Shelly Houston-Fr
OT Levi Newton-So Chris McBee-Fr
K Justin Geisler-So Santiago Gramatica-So (inj.)



written by S. Bien

The heart and soul of the defense is Kawika Mitchell. Kawika was a highly sought after high school player who enrolled at Georgia and redshirted his freshman year. Due to family reasons Kawika transferred to USF, and the rest is history. He has been a three-year starter on defense and as durable and consistent on defense as Marquel Blackwell is on offense. Kawika is a two time Butkus Award Nominee and was the team's leading tackler last year.

Complimenting Kawika at SAM linebacker is Maurice Jones. Jones is a two-year starter with similar size and demeanor as Kawika. Jones has excellent quickness and speed for his size and is adept at rushing the QB. The weak side linebacker looks to be converted running back Courtney Davenport, who has spent a year apprenticing at the new position and is prepared to make the move to starter. The back ups are shallow, but expect to see a lot of minutes from Mike Minus and Jason Allen. Some freshmen could make an immediate impact at this position.

Discussing the DL always must start with Shurron Pierson. Last year as a redshirt freshman, Pierson started nine games and registered ten sacks, a team record. His cat like quickness, 4.46 speed, and 450-pound bench press make him a nightmare for any blocking tackle nationwide. On the opposite side is always dependable and full-motor guy Chris Daley. Chris had 9.5 sacks last year despite missing most of the last three games. He has great quickness off the snap and never stops. He is a student of the game and uses his skills to their fullest. Backing up these two is a stable of young but talented players. Keep a particular eye on Cedric Battle (who should float from end to tackle throughout the game), Royals (some consider a Pierson clone), and Huebner, who had 28 sacks as a senior in high school.

Last year the defensive tackle position was a weakness at the beginning of the year. Both starters are extremely stout and possess the quickness and size to be good men on the interior with this being Wall's senior season. The back ups are not deep or flashy, but dependable in Campbell and Groelinger. Cedric Battle will play some tackle to add depth and experience. Walk-on Vernell Smith might make some noise and watch for incoming true freshman Ramon McCullough. Many considered him to have All-American potential until an injury riddled his senior season at the previous level, in which he was still able to register 7 sacks.

The defensive backs lost a tough player in Joe Morgan and the cornerback position took a hit with Kenny Robinson's decision to redshirt this season. Overall there is solid talent in the secondary with fast Indiana transfer Maurice Tucker manning one of the corner spots. Local product Ron Hemingway will play on the other side. USF will need some youngsters to step up at cornerback for a successful season, including D'Juan Brown, who must be prepared to continue improving after turning some heads this spring. Ditto for Miami native Antonio Warren. This should be a solid position, particularly if back ups live up to potential. When discussing the safeties you must start with free safety J.R. Reed. His high school coach mentioned that Reed was the real warrior in his backfield as he called the plays and possessed as much skill and speed as any one in the state at safety. Reed hauled in 5 interceptions last year as a sophomore, and is poised for a huge junior season. The strong safety slot will probably be manned by John Miller, who had some extensive playing time last year while performing well in spurts. Running neck and neck with Miller for the starting role is Kevin Verpaele, who possesses good size and instincts. They will try to make up for the loss of Joe Morgan. The positive aspect here is that both had two good years of tutoring under Morgan. The secondary back ups are filled with quick athletes and many anticipate a few receivers switching over to continue to add more athletes in the defensive backfield. Expect Marcus Edwards, the son of Jets HC Herman Edwards, to move from WR to DB in the fall. USC and Miami recruited him among others, as a defensive back coming out of high school.

Overall this team is going to rely on their extremely talented linebacking crew to lead the defense. If Jones, Pierson, Jurineak, Reed, Tucker, and Mitchell stay healthy all year, this defensive has the potential to be very good. If anyone in that group gets hurt, the team will be forced to turn to some very untested backups. Last year early in the season the defense was struggling. It came to form late, and if that carries over, USF should have the ability to put a few notches in the victory column once again.


Returning Starters in Bold
DE Chris Daley-Sr Terrence Royal-Fr / Kenny Huebner-Fr
NT Tavares Jurineack-Sr Lee Roy Selmon Jr. - Jr (inj.)
DT Greg Walls-Sr Matt Groelinger-So
DE Shurron Pierson-Jr Cedric Battles-Jr
WLB Courtney Davenport-Jr ..
MLB Kawika Mitchell-Sr Mike Minus-Jr
SLB Maurice Jones-Jr Jason Allen-So
CB Ron Hemingway-Jr Sidney Simpson-So / D'Juan Brown-So
CB Kenny Robinson-Jr Maurice Tucker-Sr (inj)
SS Kevin Verpaele-Jr John Miller-Jr
FS J.R. Reed-Jr Javan Camon-So
P Devin Sanderson-Sr Brandon Baker-Fr

Chris Daley had 9.5 sacks last year despite missing most of the last three games. (photo courtesy of South Florida Athletic Department)


What they are saying about USF compliments of :

Special thanks to E.T., S. Bien, InvisiBull, Ricky_the_Bull, The_Sheriff, Bulliever, Omniscientbull, eltoro, bullbull, HowieP, and everyone at

DE Shurron Pierson looks to be in great condition. Expect him to have a monster season.

Hopefully, Shurron does not exit early to the NFL. He's going to be someone who is going to make a huge impact not only for USF, but the NFL team that is lucky to draft him.

And to do Shurron justice... he clocked a 4.35 during the NFL timing of 40's this spring... his fastest time that is... and his average of his three combined times was 4.39. A 4.46 40 just does not serve him the proper justice... his times are posted in the weight room along with every other Bull player that ran that day uninjured.

Last I heard WR DeAndrew Rubin is definite to return, and OL Ken Dawson is still very questionable.

Ken Dawson is so out of shape it is not even funny. He will have a tough time seeing the field if he is eligible.

As of right now Whittaker will be the starter and Rubin will rotate with the rest of the receivers. I truly believe it will be tough to have Huey come off the bench as he is there every day working out and has the grades. You cannot say that for Rubin.

The Bulls have six starters and only 4 slots...hope they work a lot of 5 WR sets for this season. Green flanking out of the backfield? Last year Fisher had a great frosh season...who this year? Lots to pick from. Willie Williams was an All-State WR as a junior and what a Spring Game.

Why does it seem that bigger LB's all end up at DE? Seems the defense may be getting loaded there so why not leave one (or two) at the LB spot so they could just be monsters?

Defensive End backups very thin and that is why Terrence Royal was moved.

At WLB, Davenport has no real back up of there. Maurice Jones would go to WLB and Allen to SLB or the Nickel will come in.

When the nickel package is in, Verpaele will go to Nickel and John Miller to safety.

As for Lewis, Bain et al, I don't see a big deal if they are moved to secondary (if that is a need) since there is plenty of depth at WR. It would be nice to see what they are capable of at WR first.

Defensive Back D'Juan Brown is going to have a big impact this year.

Blackwell is a top QB that WILL be drafted. He needs to stay healthy as he has.

Curious as to who will be the MAN at running back!?! Or will it be "The Four Horsemen" with Crossley, Brewer, Callum and Green? Gotta love the depth.

Last season the OL was a major concern. They do NEED a great fall practice and sure up the starters.