Who should USF take to Rhode Island?
It's the kind of debate that can help fill the summer days until USF's football team opens preseason practice, now barely a month away: Which players should Jim Leavitt bring with him to represent the Bulls at the Big East media gathering in Newport, R.I., later this month?
In his first three trips to Newport, Leavitt has been Leavitt in his choices, going with hard-working seniors, even if they weren't the biggest stars on the team. One offense, one defense, and that was it, even as other schools brought four or more players to meet the media. But USF's success last season -- and the return of two of the league's most recognizable underclassmen -- make it a tougher decision than ever.
Leavitt said last week he hadn't decided who he'll bring to Rhode Island, but to no surprise, he's leaning toward his seniors. On offense, the front-runners would be center Jake Griffin, a veteran leader on a very experienced offensive line, and receiver Taurus Johnson, who's confident and good with a quote. (And the Bull-named-Taurus thing is still a novelty for some papers.) On defense, it's likely to be linebackers Tyrone McKenzie and Brouce Mompremier, though McKenzie's only been at USF one season. He could take one each on offense or defense, or all four, or yield to pressure.
See, in junior All-American defensive end George Selvie, USF has perhaps the most high-profile player the league has except for West Virginia's Pat White. Quarterback Matt Grothe, also a junior, would also be more likely to draw coverage from national media and outlets covering the rest of the league. For USF's national exposure, at least one of those two underclassmen would be a significant boost.
So what will Leavitt do? Stick to his tradition of bringing only his senior leaders? Being the offensive choice hasn't exactly been a good-luck charm lately, with Pat Julmiste losing his job in the first game of the 2006 season, then Nick Capogna missing a huge chunk of last season with a knee injury. It's a special honor to get to go to Rhode Island, dine on lobster and stand in front of the cameras and microphones, chosen as the face of your program. Who would you bring, and why?