USF football hands out honors at annual banquet
USF football bid a fond farewell to 18 seniors on Saturday night at the team's annual postseason banquet downtown at the Hyatt Regency, with plenty of hardware to hand out even after a disappointing 5-7 season.
-- Four awards were handed out each in offense, defense and special teams, with the "Iron Bull" MVP awards starting with quarterback B.J. Daniels on offense. Defensive tackle Cory Grissom and linebacker DeDe Lattimore shared the defensive MVP, and safety Mark Joyce earned special-teams honors.
-- The "Effort" awards went to running back Demetris Murray on offense, defensive tackle Keith McCaskill on defense and linebacker Armando Sanchez on special teams. The "Crunch" award for hard hitting went to Joyce on defense, to tight end Evan Landi on offense, and linebacker Mike Jeune on special teams. And the Scout Team MVP honors, nods to the best players who didn't suit up this season, went to defensive tackle Todd Chandler, offensive lineman Brynjar Gudmundsson and special-teams linebacker Antoine Pozniak.
-- The "Golden Bull" award for strength and conditioning, presented by strength coach Mike Golden, went to senior guard Jeremiah Warren.
-- Lots of academic honors to share, most notably three players sharing Scholar-Athlete honors by having a perfect 4.0 grade-point average this fall: Landi, kicker Maikon Bonani and walk-on defensive back Brandon Salinas. Another 10 players had a 3.5 or better this fall: (in descending order) DT Luke Sager, LB Edsel Caprice, walk-on DL Cody Sanfratello, Sanchez, walk-on PK Mattias Ciabatti, WR Lindsey Lamar, walk-on DB Patrice Pierre, OC Chaz Hine, walk-on LB Kalin Hall and walk-on LS David Burdetsky.
-- Holtz listed another 19 players who earned a 3.0 or higher and another 31 with a 2.5 or better -- together, he said USF football reset its record for highest GPA in any semester for the third semester in a row. Athletic director Doug Woolard said USF's athletes as a whole maintained a 3.05 GPA this fall, again the highest GPA ever recorded in a semester at USF.
-- Holtz announced the players who earned entry into his "Victors Club" -- to get in, a player has to grade out with a winning grade in at least eight of the 12 games. Tougher than you think, and as always, some of the omissions are as telling as the winners.
Eleven players on offense made it -- all five offensive linemen (Mark Popek, Warren, Hine, Danous Estenor, Quinterrius Eatmon), as well as Daniels, Murray, RB Darrell Scott, versatile RB/WR Victor Marc and TEs Landi and Andreas Shields. There were no receivers to be presented by Phil McGeoghan, but that speaks to Sterling Griffin missing time with injuries and freshman Andre Davis not playing much early in the year.
There were also 11 winners on defense -- tackles McCaskill and Grissom and ends Patrick Hampton and Julius Forte. So starter Ryne Giddins may be the most notable omission, but game grades are technical, based on proper play on a high percentage of plays. All three starting linebackers (Sam Barrington, Lattimore, Mike Lanaris) made it, as did all four starting defensive backs. Here, defensive backs coach Rick Smith showed the individual grades -- Kayvon Webster and Jerrell Young at 94 percent, Jon Lejiste at 93 percent and Quenton Washington at 92 percent.
Three players made the Victors Club on special teams -- Bonani, long-snapper Mike Walsh and top tackler Joyce, who logged more than 250 plays on special teams alone, which works out to 20-plus plays per game.
Seems odd, in that the Bulls had a disappointing 5-7 season, yet all but a few starters were assessed with consistent winning grades, but that likely points to how close the losses were, with USF leading in the fourth quarter of 10 of the 12 games. Eliminating a small number of mistakes could make a big difference in 2012.
-- The banquet was notable for those not in attendance -- former defensive coordinator Mark Snyder is already busy in his new job at Texas A&M, and junior running back Darrell Scott is already back in California training for the NFL Draft. Of the seniors, the only player not in attendance was linebacker Curtis Weatherspoon, who had a family illness that pulled him away.
Larry Scott announced a total of 62 letter-winners -- 18 players earned their first letters, with another 18 earning just their second. It speaks to the youth of this year's team that 17 earned a third letter, and only nine (Tyson Butler, Hampton, Hine, A.J. Love, Keith McCaskill, Joel Miller, Warren, Washington and Young) earned a fourth.
It's also worth mentioning which players were on scholarship and didn't redshirt, yet didn't play enough to earn a letter. There were 11 this year, though Chandler was ineligible and two (Jake Kaufman and Demi Thompson) were limited by injuries all season. The remaining eight: tight end Tye Turner, offensive linemen John McGhin and Steven Jacques, receiver Derrick Hopkins, running back Bradley Battles, kicker Chris Veron, linebacker Hans Louis and defensive back Spencer Boyd.
And there were five walk-ons who played enough to earn a letter: cornerback Ernie Tabuteau, special-teamers Sharly Azard, Rony Delisca and Saki Mihalakos and kickoff specialist Marvin Kloss.