Notes: JPP, plus hoops opponents for '10-11
TAMPA -- Six months ago, he was nearly unknown on a national level, but this weekend, all eyes will be on former USF defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who can solidify his position as a high first-round draft pick with a solid showing at the NFL combine workouts in Indianapolis.
"I've just got to go out and do what I do best," Pierre-Paul said Tuesday in an interview on ESPN Radio. "There's nothing that I can't do. Basically, I just go out there and be me."
Pierre-Paul is perhaps the most intriguing athlete in the first round, with a 6-foot-6, 260-pound frame combined with long arms and an NBA skills set. USF has gotten heavy traffic on Youtube.com from a video from a practice before the International Bowl that shows Pierre-Paul doing 14 back handsprings in a row. Asked if he were more comfortable as a conventional defensive end or as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense, again Pierre-Paul showed his confidence.
"It doesn't matter. I'm going to get to the passer no matter what," said Pierre-Paul, who is projected to go No. 3 to the Bucs in the latest mock drafts from ESPN.com.'s Todd McShay and NFL.com's Bucky Brooks.
If Pierre-Paul is the highest-profile prospect among the six Bulls at the combine, the one with the most to gain might be receiver Carlton Mitchell, a Gaither grad who left after his junior year. Mitchell can help his stock with a strong 40-yard time, as well as showing off his hands during ball drills.
LOOKING AHEAD: Stan Heath is wrapping up his third season at USF, but he's already lined up some solid opponents for 2010-11, with VCU and Auburn among the teams coming to Tampa next season.
The VCU game will be a homecoming game of sorts for junior guard Ed Nixon, a Lakewood grad averaging 8.3 points a game off the VCU bench this season. VCU's top two scorers this year are also juniors from Florida, in Oviedo's Joey Rodriguez and Fort Pierce's Larry Sanders. While at Arkansas, Heath went 3-1 against Auburn in his last two years with the Razorbacks.
USF will also play in an eight-team Thanksgiving weekend tournament in South Padre Island, Texas, with two home games the previous week as part of the event. BYU -- currently No. 13 in the country -- and Texas Tech are also part of the South Padre Island field.
THIS AND THAT: USF baseball will face a likely high first-round draft pick Friday as the Bulls face Ohio State ace Alex Wimmers on the first day of the Big East-Big Ten Challenge, with a 4:30 p.m. game at Al Lang Field. Wimmers, a 6-2 right-hander, is rated as the No. 8 prospect in college baseball by Baseball America. The Bulls hope to bounce back from a three-game sweep at Florida to open the season. ... USF softball is off to a 5-4 start, but senior Alison Savarese already has four home runs, after getting one in each of the last two seasons. Softball will need its bats this weekend, with a three-game series at No. 10 Arizona State. The Wildcats beat Rutgers twice last weekend by a combined score of 33-0.