Newport news: Lobsters, mild weather await
I have a morning flight up to Newport, R.I., for the Big East's annual preseason football media gathering -- renowned among the college football preseason circuit for its Monday night clambake at the Eisenhower House, overlooking Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay.
It'll be Skip Holtz's first trip representing USF in Newport, and he'll have quarterback B.J. Daniels and center Sampson Genus as the players he's chosen to meet the league's media outlets. I got to talk to Genus on Sunday for a feature story, and he's a big cooking guy, so he's excited about the clambake, with lobsters aplenty and clams and quahog chowder. I'm as excited about the weather up there -- lows in the low 60s, highs in the mid-70s, something we won't see in Tampa until midseason at best.
All the formal access with players and coaches is Tuesday morning, when the league's preseason poll is unveiled. USF should wind up right in the middle of the pack -- my guess would be fifth -- and Pittsburgh should be the league's team to beat for the second year in a row.
-- Speaking of league previews, USF's season-opening opponent, I-AA Stony Brook, has been picked to finish second in the Big South. The Sea Wolves won't offer much of a challenge for the Bulls, but they have their league's preseason first-team running back in junior Edwin Gowins, who made the first team in each of his first two seasons, rushing for a league-best 890 yards last year.
-- Somewhat amazing that USF still hasn't announced plans to hold two weeks of training camp in Vero Beach, considering it's now less than a week away, but TCpalm.com has a column, writing about how the Bulls are exactly what the Vero Beach Sports Village needs to start life anew after the Dodgers left town.
-- Could former Bulls defensive back Anthony Henry land with the Ravens? After a season-ending injury to one of their regulars, his name has come up in Baltimore, according to SI.com's Don Banks.
-- New blog to plug -- BigEastGridiron.com has a preview of USF's offense as it works its way through the league. A thorough preview -- always interesting to see how outsiders view the team.
-- Not saying this means anything at all, but as we wait until Wednesday to hear from Holtz about summer additions and departures, I've noticed that USF's online roster has new suit-and-tie pics for its returning players. (I think I prefer those to jersey shots). Anyway, could just be a case of people having conflicts on picture day, but seven scholarship players still have their old mugs up on the online roster: receivers Ed Alcin (who is transferring to D-II Fort Hays State), Jason Sherman and Patrick Richardson; defensive tackles Terrell McClain (who I have no reason to think won't be back) and Demi Thompson, January enrollee Austin Reiter and fullback/tight end Isaac Virgin. Enough to make me curious ...