Bulls take third-place pick as sign of respect
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Skip Holtz doesn't put a lot of emphasis on a preseason media poll, but after being picked to finish third in the Big East, he can appreciate that the perception of USF is different than it was entering his first season.
"A year ago, we were sixth coming into the season," Holtz said at the Big East media day. "I think a lot of people probably look at it and say here's a guy like (quarterback) B.J. Daniels going into his junior year, there's a couple more names that have been there and played some football. ... I think Pittsburgh and West Virginia are both good teams, but it definitely shows a little bit of respect for the program as we're moving forward."
No Big East program made a bigger leap in expectations from last year than the Bulls, who came in behind West Virginia (21 of 24 first-place votes) and Pittsburgh (two). Told that USF had earned a single first-place vote, Holtz paused and asked "Did I vote?" USF has only been picked higher once in its seven Big East preseason polls -- the Bulls were picked second in 2008 -- but this year's third-place nod actually had more vote-points than the Bulls had in 2008.
That won't carry much weight with senior cornerback Quenton Washington, who said the Bulls had confidence in their position in the league before any polls came out.
"We want to be ranked at the end, when December rolls around," he said. "Preseason is preseason. It's a guess, really."
THIS AND THAT: USF guard Jeremiah Warren enjoyed himself at Monday's clambake social, matching what he was told was a Big East record by eating seven lobsters. He stopped there only because the caterers ran out. "I grew up in Panama City, so seafood is something I grew up on," the 327-pound senior said. ... Rutgers' roster including walk-on long-snapper Stephen Belichick, son of Patriots coach Bill. He spent the previous four seasons on Rutgers' lacrosse team. ... Holtz will release USF's fall roster at a news conference Wednesday, and players will report for preseason camp Wednesday night, with the first practice Thursday afternoon. The team leaves Saturday for 12 days of workouts in Vero Beach.