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Ex-USF DE Selvie expected to sign with Bucs

Former USF defensive end George Selvie, a two-time All-American with the Bulls, is expected to sign with the Bucs on Tuesday as a free agent.

Selvie, 26, has 42 tackles in three NFL seasons -- one with the Rams, then briefly with the Panthers and most of the last two with the Jaguars, including 15 tackles in 2012. He has three career sacks, including one last season.

Selvie, now 6-foot-4 and 270 pounds, was a national star when USF rose to No. 2 in the national rankings in 2007, earning consensus All-America honors after totaling 14.5 sacks and an NCAA-high 31.5 tackles for loss. He remains USF's only two-time All-American and was drafted by the Rams in the seventh round in 2010.

At defensive end, the Bucs lost free agent Michael Bennett, who signed with the Seahawks, and Selvie should help provide depth for Tampa Bay's pass rush.

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Pipeline open: Miami Central guard commits to USF

When USF hired former Miami Central head coach Telly Lockette as its running backs coach, it seemed to create a natural pipeline between one of the state's most dominant prep powerhouses and the Bulls' football program.

That connection yielded its first commitment on Friday, as Michael Smith, a 6-foot-3, 315-pound offensive guard from Central committed to the Bulls during a campus visit. Smith, a solid run blocker who helped open holes for Central's two elite running backs in 2012, said he chose the Bulls over Arkansas, and Lockette's presence was what drew him to USF.

"I loved the facilities and just felt it was the right place for me," said Smith, who visited Friday's morning practice with a handful of Central teammates, with another group expected to attend Saturday's drills. …

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Notes: Martin, Chandler sidelined rest of spring

Injuries have sidelined two USF linemen for the rest of spring drills, as senior Lawrence Martin, who'd been working as a first-team offensive guard, is out with a shoulder injury, and junior Todd Chandler, a top backup at defensive tackle, is out with a fracture in his right foot.

"(Chandler) will be back in the fall, but he won't be back this spring," coach Willie Taggart said. "He'll be back training this summer and head into training camp, ready to roll. ... (Martin) has a shoulder injury. Hopefully it doesn't require surgery, and he can just rehab and get it back together. He won't be back the rest of spring."

Senior Steven Jacques was working with the first-team offensive line on Friday, though sophomore Thor Jozwiak looks to be closer to participating in drills after being held out in the first week of practice. The Bulls have four scholarship linemen slowed by injuries right now -- Martin, Jozwiak, Max Lang and Kam Davis -- so there were three walk-ons working with the second-team line Friday: Mak Djulbegovic at right tackle and Jake Smith and Caleb Tucker at guards. …

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Pitchers, dual: Bulls yield one run in 33 innings

One day, three games, 33 innings and just one run allowed.

Ideally, that would add up to three victories, but USF had to settle for two in wild fashion on Thursday.

USF's baseball and softball teams combined to go into extra innings three times on Thursday -- all in scoreless ties -- and softball rallied for two wins at Villanova, while baseball lost 1-0 at Georgetown in 13 innings.

In all, Bulls pitchers allowed just one run -- unearned at that -- in 33 innings. Softball's Sara Nevins threw 5.1 innings of no-hit relief to win the first game, then pitching the final 2.1 innings to win the second game, which the Bulls won 3-0 on a three-run home run by Kourtney Salvarola.

Salvarola is another headline all by herself -- she has hit six home runs in USF's last four games, with three Sunday, including a walkoff in the ninth, and two Wednesday in the first game at Villanova. That's twice as many home runs in five days as she totaled in her entire sophomore year. USF's pitchers were outstanding in pressure situations in the second game, allowing nine hits in a shutout by stranding 13 Villanova runners. …

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Bulls quiet as others fill football schedules

This week's news that conference rivals Cincinnati and Connecticut announced future football games with Michigan and Boise State has USF fans asking a lingering question: When will the Bulls be announcing deals with high-profile opponents for their future schedules?

It's been more than four years since USF announced a series with a major-conference opponent -- that was January 2009, when the Bulls landed a home-and-home with Florida State, setting up the Bulls' huge win in Tallahassee that same season. Since then, the only additions have been I-AA home games, a home date with UTEP in 2011 and a home-and-home series with Nevada, announced in January 2012.

The lack of scheduling news from USF is puzzling, given that its peers have been able to land marquee opponents -- Central Florida has recently announced home-and-home deals with Penn State and South Carolina, with a series ahead with Maryland as well. …

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Salvarola hits two more HRs in win vs. 'Nova

USF junior shortstop Kourtney Salvarola continues a ridiculous power streak at the plate, hitting two home runs in Wednesday's 8-2 win at Villanova to give her five home runs in the Bulls' last two games.

Salvarola hit three in Sunday's win against Rutgers, including a walkoff shot in the bottom of the ninth inning, and in these two games, she has hit more home runs than in all of her sophomore season (three). She has a team-high 10 now, and the Bulls have 33 as a team, which should edge them ahead of Notre Dame for the Big East lead. USF (25-11, 3-1) is barely more than halfway through its 2013 season, but the Bulls already have six more home runs than they hit in 2012 on the way to the College World Series.

Salvarola, with 10 home runs, already has the third-highest season total in USF history, trumped only by two years by Holly Groves, who hit 12 in 2003 and 18 in 2004. She also has a slugging percentage of .800, which would reset the team record of .742, set by Groves in 2004. The Bulls are on course to challenge the team record for home runs -- 48, set in 2004. …

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Video: Taggart, coordinators talk spring football

USF football coach Willie Taggart, left, guides Julius Forte during spring practice Saturday in Tampa.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF football coach Willie Taggart, left, guides Julius Forte during spring practice Saturday in Tampa.

Back from USF's football practice on a chilly Wednesday morning, with lots of video to share from head coach Willie Taggart and coordinators Chuck Bresnahan and Walt Wells.

Minor injury news to pass along -- junior defensive tackle Todd Chandler was on crutches with a boot on his right foot, though he went out of his way to make it clear it's not a longterm injury. Handful of offensive linemen were held out of practice -- saw Lawrence Martin and Kam Davis working on stationary bikes, then Max Lang working with trainers later as well. Wells said the injuries were only "dings" -- nothing major.

We managed to get some specific praise from Taggart, who singled out DT Luke Sager, RB Marcus Shaw, TE Sean Price and center Austin Reiter, among others.

Here's Wells, who talks about his quarterbacks, again has praise for Shaw and talks about his desire to find a starting offensive line so it can start to build cohesiveness as a unit. Listen close, and you'll hear more of the music Taggart is playing at the start of practice -- Jason Aldean's "Dirt Road Anthem" was a new addition today.

 …

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USF women rally for OT but fall to 2nd-seeded Cal

University of South Florida guard Andrea Smith, left, steals the ball from California center Talia Caldwell during the first half of Monday's second-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament, played in Lubbock, Texas.

Associated Press

University of South Florida guard Andrea Smith, left, steals the ball from California center Talia Caldwell during the first half of Monday's second-round game in the women's NCAA college basketball tournament, played in Lubbock, Texas.

Down 10 points with a minute left in regulation, USF's women's basketball team rallied to force overtime but saw their NCAA Tournament run end there with an 82-78 loss to second-seeded California on Monday night in Lubbock.

USF trailed 68-58 with a minute to play, but rallied, getting three free throws by Inga Orekhova with 0.7 seconds left to tie the game. In overtime, the Bulls fell behind and had the ball with a shot to tie, but turned it over with 19 seconds left.

Senior guard Andrea Smith had 24 points in her final college game, and Orekhova scored 22, including the key free throws at the end of regulation. Andrell Smith, also playing in her last game, had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Bulls (22-11) -- who earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament win on Saturday against Texas Tech -- led late in the first half, but saw Cal (30-3) end the half on a 12-3 run, leading until the final second of regulation.

Here's a link to our full story from Lubbock ...

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Salvarola hits record 3 HRs in Bulls' walkoff win

USF sophomore shortstop Kourtney Salvarola set a school record with three home runs in Sunday's win against Rutgers, accounting for all four runs, including a walkoff solo shot in extra innings.

Salvarola, who now has eight home runs on the season, hit a two-run home run in the second inning, a solo shot in the fifth, and ended the game in extra innings with her record third home run. It wasn't the only record set in the game, as junior Sara Nevins set the program's career strikeout mark with 648, passing current Bulls assistant Mo Triner.

The Bulls (24-11) saw their 17-game win streak come to an end Saturday afternoon, but bounced back Sunday to secure the series win. Lindsey Richardson and Nevins combined for 16 strikeouts in Sunday's win, with Richardson holding Rutgers to one hit in her five innings.

USF has a midweek Big East road trip, playing one game Wednesday and two Thursday at Villanova (11-12, 0-3 in Big East).

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USF baseball sweeps Bearcats to open Big East play

The start of Big East play has sparked USF baseball, which is now above .500 after a three-game home sweep of Cincinnati over the weekend, improving their record to 13-11.

Since a 1-5 start against tough competition, USF is now 12-6 since, and the Bulls are tied with Pittsburgh as the only teams to get three-game sweeps in the opening weekend. Lelo Prado earned his 200th career win as well, reaching the milestone during the sweep.

The Bulls' bats came through for eight runs in all three games, starting with a 12-hit attack in the opening 8-3 win, which started Friday night and was resumed after rain on Saturday afternoon. Freshman Jimmy Herget threw four shutout innings in the opener, and starters Nick Gonzalez and Joey Lovecchio earned wins in the remaining games. Chris Norton continued his strong start at the plate, getting three RBIs in the second game, and Nik Alfonso added three hits in Sunday's finale.

The Bulls play host to Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday night, then travel for three games at Georgetown (15-8, 1-2 in Big East), playing Thursday-Saturday due to the Easter holiday weekend.

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McDonald a key as Bulls take on No. 2 seed Cal

Fresh off the first NCAA Tournament win in USF women's basketball history, the Bulls have a tough challenge tonight against 2nd-seeded California, and our preview in Monday's Times focuses on junior center Akila McDonald.

McDonald had seven points and seven rebounds in Saturday's historic win against Texas Tech, and the Bulls will need another big game tonight against a tough Cal frontcourt. We'll have more tonight as the Bulls seek a spot in the Sweet 16. ...

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USF women beat Texas Tech for first NCAA win

Just as USF's men's basketball team did a year ago, USF's women earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament win on Saturday night, as the 10th-seeded Bulls knocked off seventh-seeded Texas Tech 71-70 in Lubbock.

The Bulls (22-10) now advance to face second-seeded California on Monday. The Bulls got a team-high 20 points from junior Inga Orekhova, including a huge 3-pointer with 1:10 left to tie the game. Andrell Smith, Tiffany Conner and Alisia Jenkins hit free throws in the final minute to help the Bulls to victory.

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Notes: Newcomer Saffold working as first-team corner

It's only the second day of spring practice, and the Bulls aren't in pads yet, but newcomer Torrel Saffold, who joined the Bulls in January out of junior college, was working as a first-team cornerback again Friday morning.

USF's cornerback jobs are wide-open this spring, but it's telling that a player who just got on campus two months ago is working ahead of returning players. Bulls coach Willie Taggart said his two January junior college enrollees, Saffold and linebacker Rahmon Swain, have made quick impressions just by blending in with the Bulls veterans.

"They've shown me they're willing to follow by our rules, to do what it takes to be a part of this football team," Taggart said. "They fit right in with the rest of the guys. You can't even tell. When you just brought their name up again, it just seemed like they've been here with the rest of the guys. I feel like they've come in and fit in perfectly."

USF's Saturday afternoon practice is completely open to the public -- scheduled from 2:30 to 5 p.m. -- and will be the only practice open the fans until the Bulls' spring game at Raymond James Stadium on April 13. …

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Video: Taggart talks before Bulls' second practice

Always amusing to see the dropoff in media coverage on the second day of practice -- we were out at the Morsani Complex at 8:15 a.m. to talk to Willie Taggart before the Bulls' second spring session. Reporters now get USF players and coaches before drills, which eliminates the "how was practice?" line of questions, but Taggart had good things to say Friday morning.

"First day, you always have All-Americans," he said, recognizing the initial excitement of a first practice, especially one not in pads. He'll know much more after Saturday's first practice in pads ...

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Video: Sendoff for USF women's basketball, bound for NCAAs

For just the second time in the program's history, USF women's basketball is literally on the road to the NCAA Tournament, leaving campus by bus Thursday afternoon for their flight to Lubbock, Texas, for Saturday's NCAA first-round matchup with Texas Tech.

Here's video from their campus sendoff, complete with the band, Rocky the Bull, the entire USF baseball team (Jose Fernandez and Lelo Prado are good friends), Stan Heath and his staff and even Willie Taggart and his assistants. (I don't know if Taggart made it in the video, but if you look close, you can spot him, Chuck Bresnahan, Ray Woodie, Walt Wells, David Reaves, Stu Holt and others in this Twitter pic.)

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