Bulls can sympathize with Huskies' sorrow
USF's football family has endured an incredible amount of tragedy in recent years, but USF coach Jim Leavitt said Monday that none of that compares to the difficulty of losing a player during a football season, as Connecticut has with the stabbing death of junior cornerback Jasper Howard.
"When I heard about it Sunday, I broke," Leavitt said during the Big East coaches' weekly teleconference. "It brought back all the memories of what happened with our football team, with Keeley's family, Patrick Payton, and even Will Bleakley. There's no way you can describe the pain, what you go through. ... I haven't had to go through it during a season. It was in the spring, in winter conditioning, so we had a couple of weeks where I let the guys be with their families. That has to be an incredible challenge for Randy (Edsall) and the team. But there's nothing worse. There just isn't. ... You lose a football game and it's very difficult. But it is nothing like losing a player."
The Bulls suffered the tragedy of a sudden death when Keeley Dorsey, a freshman running back from Tallahassee, collapsed and died during a team conditioning workout in January 2007. They've since lost two former players in Javon Camon, who died after a collision during an indoor football game in Daytona Beach, and Will Bleakley, who was lost at sea in a boating accident in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year. Payton died in 2001 in an off-season motorcycle accident after redshirting his first season with the Bulls.
Howard attended Miami's Edison High School, where he was a teammate of five Bulls football players who had signed with USF and were two years ahead of Howard at Edison. Connecticut plays at No. 23 West Virginia on Saturday afternoon; USF finishes its regular season at Connecticut on Dec. 5.
(The photo shown is one I took of Howard in 2005 when I visited Edison High for a story on USF's football players from there. He's shown in front of his locker, with pictures of USF's Jackie Chambers, whose steps he hoped to follow by earning a college scholarship, as he would at Connecticut.)