Inpenetra-bull? News from USF football!
I'm going to try to get in and out of here in less than 1,000 words tonight.
With apologies to the Homeland Security folks, I'm also going to cautiously downgrade the Jim Leavitt Longterm Information Blackout Threat from orange to a pleasant tangerine.
Me, I haven't seen Leavitt in more than two days -- I usually take a day or two off from practice each week -- but trusty Times correspondent Mike Camunas checked in with promising news from Thursday's practice. Leavitt, without revealing anything terribly newsy, was borderline conversational after drills. It's an encouraging step toward a healthy coach/media relationship.
USF's sports information department was even able to send out a practice report again, with Leavitt again trudging through the Why McNeese State Is Awfully Good Files: McNeese has beaten Georgia Southern, he points out, while his Bulls in their infancy were unable to. In all seriousness, McNeese beat Florida International in Miami two years ago, so if Bulls fans are taking either of the first two games seriously, this could just as easily be the one. McNeese also trounced Central Florida in the pre-Culpepper days.
Still no official acknowledgement of USF's suspensions, still no starter at quarterback. Leavitt had told me Monday that he would discuss the depth chart -- the real, honest depth chart -- later in the week, but I'm wondering if he means later in the week, like Sunday. But I can report real personnel news for Friday's paper -- I've learned the names of two new walk-ons added to the roster, which can expand from 105 players to 110 when school starts, as it did Monday.
I'll cover myself with the caveat that "No USF players or assistant coaches were interviewed in the production of this blog entry." But in calling around to area high school coaches, I've got confirmation and some insights on two of the newest Bulls, both true freshmen.
The first is a kicker from Clearwater Central Catholic named Anthony Leandri. Went 7-for-10 on field goals last year, including 3-for-3 from 35 and longer in CCC's state semifinal loss to Pahokee. "Instead of a kicker, I think of him as a football player who kicks," said CCC coach Mike Jalazo. Leandri, who runs about 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, was a starting defensive end at CCC, played some linebacker, and Jalazo said he could help on the defensive scout team. He'll redshirt this year, of course, and of USF's three kickers on roster (Benzer, Teachey, Alvarado), none are older than sophomores, but he'll be able to compete for kickoff and place-kicking duties in 2007.
The second is Tampa Catholic offensive lineman Trevor Albergo. He did not play his senior year after tearing an ACL in his knee in the spring of 2005. He's back full-go now, had played a little linebacker but bulked up enough that he's now an offensive lineman, about 6-foot-3, 280, according to TC coach Bob Henriquez. Again, he'll redshirt, but it's good news for the scout team.
That's what I've got. If you're not a subscriber, I'd strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Friday's St. Petersburg Times, which has our three college football preview sections. And if you are a subscriber, it never hurts to pick up a few extra copies, right? I'll add links in the morning to our main story on what could be the return of USF's passing attack, and our Big East preview -- between the three sections, I'd like to think there's a lot of information to get fans excited about the upcoming season. And a picture of a sheepdog.
Heck with "upcoming" -- with games Thursday night, college football season is here. I can report that Pearl River Community College won its opener 43-6 in Mississippi on Thursday -- I'll try to get an update on what receiver Carlton Hill and linebacker Donte Spires were able to do ...
OK, last day for questions, thoughts, predictions on Saturday's season opener. I'll try to answer as best I can, with or without Leavitt's help, before Saturday's kickoff. ... Hey, barely 650 words!