Big honor for Lockwood; did you say Heisman?
No, no, Ryan Lockwood won't win the Heisman. We'll get to that in a sec.
First, big honors for USF's redshirt freshman outfielder, who was named by Collegiate Baseball as the 2008 National Freshman Player of the Year. Lockwood had the second-highest batting average in USF history and piled up the nation's longest hitting streak at 30 games, but this is an impressive honor, especially for a player who wasn't even Big East Rookie of the Year.
"Ryan Lockwood had one of the best freshman years I have ever seen," USF coach Lelo Prado said on the Bulls' official site. "He played the game the right way and we are very happy he is a part of our baseball program. He is one of the guys we are counting on to get us to Omaha.”
And how's this for humility? "This was so unexpected; to be recognized nationally is a great honor," Lockwood says on USF's site. "This award is truly a testament to my coaches, teammates and family. I could not have done this without them."
Lockwood earned a spot on the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America team, as did designated hitter Stephen Hunt.
-- USF has unveiled its marketing campaign for the 2008 football season, with new billboards in town and TV and radio ads built around the slogan "Can U Feel It?" -- with the iconic U logo, so it doesn't come off like a 14-year-old text-messaging. I'm waiting for the Rays to jump on this, with a marketing campaign called "Where U At?" ...
USF has pics of the new billboard shots here, and as Ari already noticed in a comment, USF is calling Matt Grothe a "Heisman candidate" in showing highlights of Grothe and Selvie in the radio and TV ads. And Grothe should certainly be considered a Heisman candidate -- he was briefly on ESPN.com's "Heisman Watch" last year and will be there again if he leads USF past Kansas in September. As with any Heisman candidate, he'll need his team to be nationally relevant to have any chance of winning, but as a junior, he has enough name recognition to be in that conversation.
USF says it'll have 18 -- eighteen -- billboards around town advertising season tickets, which start at $88. Remember last year when fans got excited because there were, what, three? I'll see if I can get a list, just so you guys aren't driving around town with your eyes off the road ...
-- Back to baseball, the MLB draft starts today at 2 p.m., and it'll be interesting to see how quickly USF's incoming recruits are gobbled up. It's hard to imagine the Bulls not losing catcher Adrian Nieto and lefty Anthony Ferrara, who should be picked in the first five rounds. Outfielder Alex Mendez, shortstop Sam Mende and outfielder Corey Thomas could be gone in the first 10 rounds, which probably would mean they don't make it to campus either. That's nearly half the incoming class of 11 signees, which is why Prado is ready to be on the road this weekend, wooing their replacements. Remember that at this time last year, USF fans hadn't heard about Brian Hobbs, Brandon Smith, Trey Manz, Chris Rey or even Lockwood, so don't underestimate the potential impact of these late additions ... we'll have updates on the draft as the picks come in, and expect righty Daniel Thomas to be the first Bulls taken, perhaps the only one today.