Leavitt: Solomon best to play college ball in Tampa
Within an hour of Monday night's sad news of the passing of former University of Tampa great and 49ers star Freddie Solomon, former USF coach Jim Leavitt had reached out to the Times with a text message, making sure Solomon's place in Tampa football history was known.
Leavitt, who grew up in St. Petersburg, remembers going to see Solomon play as a game-changing quarterback at UT in the 1970s, and said he would consider Solomon the best player ever to play college football in Tampa.
"I often said I wish we could recruit a playmaker as good as (Solomon) -- we tried to recruit QBs that were his style," wrote Leavitt, who has made the same Tampa-to-San Francisco move that Solomon did more than 30 years ago. "(Marquel) Blackwell, (Matt) Grothe, (B.J.) Daniels, all very good, but none were the playmaker he was, not close. And that isn't a knock on those guys."
Leavitt said Solomon would stop by USF's campus in its early years and work with the Bulls receivers, and when USF was recruiting Tampa Catholic's Christian Green and trying to convince him he could be a college quarterback (he is now a receiver at Florida State), he sent Green a highlight tape of Solomon's from his college days at UT.
"He had such a gentle spirit, and always a warm smile," Leavitt said.