A new Olympian, new walk-ons and more ...
Lots to get to, but first, I'm overdue to mention that former Leto and USF hurdler Damu Cherry is headed to Beijing after finishing second in the 100-meter hurdles at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Oregon.
Cherry, 30, has made a strong return after a two-year suspension from 2003-05, finishing as runner-up at the 2006 U.S. outdoor and indoor championships, but this obviously is a breakout opportunity. Here is the writeup from the official Olympic site, including a picture of the three hurdlers who will represent the United States in China.
-- Couple save-the-date notes from football: With season tickets continuing to sell well, individual game tickets for 2008 will go on sale Aug. 1. And while the date isn't locked down, Fan Appreciation Day is tentatively set for Sunday, Aug. 10, one week into preseason practice. And two USF football games, against Kansas and Pittsburgh, have been picked up for national radio broadcast as the Big East national game of the week, including XM satellite radio. Last year's West Virginia game got the same treatment.
-- There's new football walk-ons I can confirm: Dexter Baldwin, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound safety from Bradenton Southeast who played two seasons at Ellsworth Community College in Iowa. Baldwin, curiously, hasn't played defense before, having been a receiver at Southeast and at Ellsworth, which is the same program that gave USF walk-on Walt Smith a few years back. It's the second year in a row USF has gotten a walk-on from Southeast -- last year, it was linebacker Caleb Russell, who left after redshirting in his only season.
The other new addition is a true freshman: Linebacker Chris Breit, who was sidelined part of his senior year at Plant because of a stress fracture in his back. Breit, 6 feet and 215 pounds, was a defensive end and the top tackler on Plant's 2006 state championship team, registering a ridiculous 26 tackles for loss. He was initially thought to be out for the season last fall, but returned for the second half of Plant's season. He'll start out as a middle linebacker, joining Wharton's LaDre Watkins and St. Thomas Aquinas' Chase Geaney among walk-on linebackers in the incoming class.
-- Talked Tuesday night with Fatah Muraisi, the adviser for 7-foot-2 center John Riek, and he said that a New York Daily News report that Riek had signed with an agent was "completely false." Riek, who withdrew his name as an early-entry candidate for the draft, still has his amateur eligibility, Muraisi said, and his hoping to join a college program this fall after taking an entrance exam on Sept. 6. Again, I don't think USF is a match for him, but a school on the quarters system might be a match.
-- Obscure baseball note: Dave Glaser at USFbullseye.com was all over this first, but former USF assistant coach Bryan Peters, lost in the coaching change at Central Florida, has landed at High Point in North Carolina, joining another former UCF assistant in Craig Cozart.