Selvie reflects on USF career, NFL future
TAMPA – When George Selvie came to USF in 2005, the Bulls had never been to a bowl game.
Now, as the senior defensive end prepares for the Bulls’ fifth bowl in his five years, he wants to go out the way USF fans will best remember him, as the dominant player who was a consensus All-American in 2007.
“(I want) to win, but to go out and make some plays. ‘Oh, that’s the George Selvie we remember.’” the 22-year-old said this week. “That’s what I want to be like. ‘That’s the guy we always knew he would be.’ I want to go out with a great game.”
By his own standards, Selvie has had a quiet year, with career lows in sacks (3.5), tackles for loss (9.5) and total tackles (40). Two years ago, he was Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and a year ago, he considered leaving early for the NFL Draft. He stayed around for his senior year, and USF coaches say he’s been a leader and a model for younger players.
“George has done a great job. For a guy to work like he’s done and do what he’s done, that’s pretty impressive,” coach Jim Leavitt said. “He’s really been an inspiration to a lot of players and to coaches. He’s a real special guy.”
And as Selvie prepares to leave with his teammates Monday for a trip to Toronto to meet Northern Illinois in the International Bowl on Jan. 2, he can appreciate all he’s accomplished in his five seasons and five bowl trips.
Selvie’s first bowl experience was the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Charlotte in 2005, when he was redshirting his first year at USF. USF lost 14-0 to N.C. State, but what Selvie remembers most was a second-half goal-line stand, when the Bulls stopped the Wolfpack on four straight downs from inside the 2-yard line.
“We were 6-6 that year, but Coach Leavitt said we’re going to be back to one of these again,” Selvie said. “He meant that. Let’s get ready for next year.”
Other bowls have been emblematic of Selvie’s career. The 2006 Papajohns.com Bowl, immediately after he scored his only career touchdown in a road upset of West Virginia, was a strong showing, with a team-best eight tackles, including 2.5 for losses, in a win against East Carolina.
That game was a springboard to his sophomore year, when he led the nation with 31.5 tackles for loss and set USF’s single-season record for sacks. By the second half of that season, opposing offenses were game-planning against Selvie, double-teaming him and running away from his side of the field.
His next two bowls, like his last two seasons, have been underwhelming, with not nearly the same gaudy statistics as he put up in 2007. In a loss to Oregon in the 2007 Sun Bowl, Selvie had one assisted tackle; in last year’s win in the St. Petersburg Bowl, he was limited to one tackle, for a loss.
He remembers the Sun Bowl as his favorite bowl experience, not for the 56-20 loss in El Paso, but for the events leading up to it.
“That was a really fun bowl. That had to be my favorite one, though not to play in. Oregon rolled over us,” he said. “Just the experience. I’d never been to Texas, and we took a trip to Mexico. It was real fun going to El Paso.”
Now another season affords Selvie another chance for international travel, and the chance to spend six days in Toronto is something he’s excited about. He said playing his last game probably won’t be as tough as it was saying goodbye to fans in playing his final home game against Miami last month.
Selvie concedes that his statistics haven’t been as good this season, but he doesn’t regret the decision to return for his senior year.
“We always want to win a Big East championship, so we didn’t get that,” Selvie said. “I felt like I had a really good season. Not as much tackles for loss or sacks or anything, but I felt like I contributed to my team. I tried my best, and that’s all you can do.”
Selvie’s play this season has even been overshadowed by teammate Jason Pierre-Paul, a junior defensive end whose first season at USF has been a breakout year. He’s the one now considering a jump to the NFL, but Selvie is happy for his teammate’s success.
“Everybody’s like ‘You know, Jason got a lot of attention,’” Selvie said. “I can’t knock him. He’s a blessed talent. He’s going out there and making plays. I want to win games, and you need a player like that to go out like that. I just want to see him do well.”
Selvie’s story is still an incredible one – a center in high school, USF was his only Division I-A offer, and now he finds himself a two-time All-American preparing for a career in the NFL.
“Whoever thought I would do that? I didn’t think I’d do that,” he said. “I felt like I was blessed, just being able to do all this stuff, coming from where I came from. USF in the top 25? Making No. 2 one year? It was a crazy five years for me, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Just the experiences with my teammates, growing and making lifelong friends. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
After Saturday’s game, he’ll prepare for the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., next month, then training for the NFL Combine, trying to improve his draft stock.
“It’s the next step in my life,” he said. “You just train hard and see where it leads to. The teams, they’re going to knock you down, they’re going to look for everything wrong so they don’t have to pick you. I’m looking to prove everybody wrong again. That’s just like it was going into college.”
Selvie’s college career is proof that all it takes is one team to believe in you, and Leavitt said he thinks NFL scouts will see the same qualities in him that USF did five years ago.
“I would imagine he’ll get drafted pretty high,” Leavitt said. “He’s that good of a player. Where, I don’t know. I know I’d draft him high if I was somebody.”