Three Bulls face long odds at Bucs mini-camp
Checking in from One Buc Place, where three former USF starters -- receiver Amarri Jackson and offensive tackles Walt Walker and Jared Carnes -- are among 54 players attending the Bucs' rookie mini-camp today through Sunday.
Seven draft picks are here, as well as eight undrafted rookies already under contract, but the other 39 players are battling for what could be as little as one or two contracts, since the Bucs would have to release a player under contract to make room for any additions to the roster.
Having said that, the three Bulls are out here in Bucs uniforms, getting a small taste of an NFL roster, if only for a weekend in May.
"I've got a Bucs helmet in my hand. Are you kidding me?" said Walker, who grew up a Bucs fan in Jamaica and in South Florida, with Warren Sapp his favorite player. "It's an opportunity, and that's all I can ask for. You have to be confident in what you can learn, that you can be coached. I'm real excited."
Jackson, one of six receivers here, is wearing No. 85 and looks to be the tallest of the group (he's on the right in the photo, taken by the Times' Daniel Wallace). Walker (No. 62) and Carnes (No. 77) are among 10 offensive linemen getting a look. Former USF linebacker Ronnie McCullough, who finished his college career at Bethune-Cookman, is also here trying out.
"It's a blessing," Jackson said. "The routes are the same, with the exact same depth, but just different names. I want to help the team, so I'm just trying to expose my talent and let God take care of everything else."
Those three aren't the only Bulls in attendance, as rising senior receiver Taurus Johnson, one of several USF players who could be drafted in 2009, was watching from the sidelines, along with USF assistant coaches Mike Canales and Larry Scott. More links, while we're talking football ...
-- Former USF running back Chad Simpson, who finished his college career at Morgan State, has signed a free-agent deal with the Colts, who have been Bronco-like in their ability to find unheralded gems at running back.
-- For all those folks who were wishing Ryan Perriloux would come to USF a few years back, the quarterback has been dismissed from LSU's roster by coach Les Miles. Yes, I'm sure he'll surface somewhere, but I seriously doubt it will be at USF.
-- Remember Huey Whittaker? My first year at the Times, I covered Whittaker when he was a lanky receiver at Springstead High. He's now with the Utah Blaze of the Arena Football League, and while he's suffering through a 0-9 record, he's leading Arena football in catches and second in yards, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
-- Recruits coming off the board: Defensive end Ed Stinson from South Dade has committed to FSU, while Donnavan Kirk, a 2009 power forward from Detroit who made an unofficial visit to USF this spring, has committed to Miami. The Palm Beach Post notes that he's ranked as high as No. 56 nationally.
-- And yes, another 2008 preseason top 25, this from SI.com's Stewart Mandel, who traditionally has had a high opinion of the Bulls. USF doesn't make his top 25, though West Virginia is 14, Cincy is 22 and Pittsburgh is 25th, with Connecticut "on the cusp." I'm about 50-50 on whether USF will open the season ranked; if the Bulls beat Kansas -- 15th in Mandel's ranking -- in Tampa, they'll be ranked.
-- Tell me if you've heard this before: Big East basketball should be really, really good this season. So writes ESPN.com's Andy Katz, who notes the slew of talented Big East players who could have bolted for the NBA Draft -- UConn's Hasheem Thabeet leading the way -- but opted to return to campus. Yes, USF makes it into his column; no, it's not in a real positive light.