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Bulls' Lamar signs with CFL's Tiger-Cats

Former USF running back Lindsey Lamar, unsigned after working out at Bucs rookie minicamp, has signed a contract with the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he'll join a growing collection of former Bulls north of the border.

Lamar, who signed Wednesday, still faces a battle to make Hamilton's regular-season roster -- the Tiger-Cats also added former Boston College and Temple running back Montel Harris, who rushed for 133 yards and two touchdowns against the Bulls last fall. Lamar rushed for 475 yards and three touchdowns as a senior, averaging 7.2 yards per carry. The CFL might better suit his smaller 5-foot-9 frame and his raw speed -- he was the Big East's indoor 60-meter champ in 2012 with a school-record time of 6.74 seconds.

Lamar, the former Hillsborough standout who was Big East Special Teams Player of the Year in 2010, will have plenty of familiar faces in Tiger-Cats camp -- the team also signed former Bulls kicker Delbert Alvarado this week, and last month added former USF defensive end Craig Marshall. That's in addition to former USF offensive lineman Marc Dile, who returns after working as Hamilton's starting right tackle last season. …

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Bulls' Mitchell transferring to D-II Fort Hays State

TAMPA -- Terrence Mitchell, a former Freshman All-America who was USF's No. 2 receiver in 2012 before being suspended this spring, is expected to transfer and finish his college career at Division II Fort Hays State in Kansas.

Mitchell, a coveted recruit when he graduated from Hillsborough High, caught 31 passes for 414 yards for the Bulls last fall, but it's unclear what role he might have had under new coach Willie Taggart. Mitchell was suspended indefinitely from the team in March after an arrest on a misdemeanor charge of possession of marijuana; Taggart said he had planned to shift Mitchell to cornerback before the suspension.

Mitchell, 22, will have two years of eligibility at Fort Hays, which has seen several Tampa-area players transfer in from major colleges. Former South Carolina receiver O.J. Murdock and former USF receiver Ed Alcin finished their careers there, and former Hillsborough and New Mexico State quarterback Tarean Austin was Fort Hays' starting quarterback last season. Fort Hays also has a graduate transfer coming in this fall in former Palmetto and Florida defensive end Kedric Johnson, who had nine tackles in his Gators career. …

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USF women's soccer hosting Florida, Clemson

USF women's soccer released its 2013 schedule on Wednesday, with the Bulls playing host to Florida on Sept. 15 as part of an upgraded nonconference schedule that also includes matches against Clemson, South Carolina and Texas.

"We felt like we were a really strong team last year and felt like we should have gotten into the NCAA Tournament, and we wanted to make sure our strength of schedule was a little bit above that of last year," coach Denise Schilte-Brown said Wednesday. "If we're in that scenario again, it's not going to be an RPI issue."

Florida finished last year ranked No. 8 nationally in RPI, and the Bulls will open play in the American Athletic Conference on Sept. 27 at Central Florida, which was No. 20 in the final RPI. Other opponents carry recognizable names, but had losing seasons last year -- the Bulls open the year at Texas (8-10-2 in 2012) on Aug. 25, then have Clemson (6-10-2) at home on Aug. 30 and travel to play South Carolina (7-10-4) on Sept. 12. …

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Ex-USF star Leather arrested on drug, gun charges

Terrence Leather, a 6-foot-9 forward, played four years at USF from 2001-05 and still ranks among the program's career top 10 in scoring and rebounding.

AP photo

Terrence Leather, a 6-foot-9 forward, played four years at USF from 2001-05 and still ranks among the program's career top 10 in scoring and rebounding.

TAMPA -- Former USF basketball standout Terrence Leather, who led the Bulls in scoring in back-to-back seasons from 2003-05, is facing felony charges after being arrested in Ybor City early Wednesday morning.

Leather, 32, faces four charges related to the Tampa Police Department arrest: misdemeanor counts of possession of marijuana and open carrying of a firearm, as well as felony charges of destruction/tampering of evidence and being in possession of a firearm during commission of a felony. According to the arrest report, Leather discarded two baggies containing 5.5 grams of marijuana out of the back door of a car before police saw him with a loaded Glock 17 pistol tucked into the front of his pants. He was booked and released later Wednesday on $10,250 bond. …

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Junior college pitcher weighing Bulls, draft

The MLB draft is an annual concern for college baseball programs each June, and while USF could lose juniors James Ramsay and Nick Gonzalez to the allure of pro baseball, another name to watch during the draft is Casey Mulholland, a junior college right-hander from Bradenton who signed with the Bulls earlier this month.

Mulholland, 21, has good size at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds, and he's drawing pro interest, with a workout scheduled for Thursday with the Rays. He went 3-0 with a 2.94 ERA this spring at State College of Florida, striking out 52 batters in 52 innings.

"I'm excited to see what happens. I know God has a plan for me. Whether I end up at USF next year or in the draft, either one is going to be a good route for me," said Mulholland, who chose USF over schools like South Carolina and Old Dominion.

Mulholland attended the prestigious Pendleton Academy at IMG in Bradenton and went 37-1 in his high school career, but wasn't drafted as he underwent Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow during his senior year. He signed with Mississippi and pitched sparingly as a freshman in 2012, going 0-2 with a 4.22 ERA in eight relief appearances. …

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The American logo: What do you think?

USF's new conference has a name, of course, and the American Athletic Conference now has a logo, unveiled overnight in an exclusive to USA Today. It's a blue "A" with a red star in the middle, and Mike Aresco will be talking about how bold it is at 11:30 this morning.

Until then, we're left to ask you guys what you think. Yes, the AAC looks a little like a slimmed down AFC logo with the NFC's coloring, and yes, the one point of the star that covers the, um, A-hole is slightly longer than the other ones. Thoughts? Comments?

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Magazine preseason picks not high on Bulls

For all the offseason excitement surrounding USF's hiring of Willie Taggart, the Bulls are making a modest showing as the first round of preseason college football magazines are hitting newsstands this week.

-- The Sporting News, for instance, picks USF seventh out of the 10 teams in the new American Athletic Conference, two spots behind rival Central Florida, with the Bulls projected to not play in a bowl game for the third year in a row. Tight end Sean Price is the only USF player named to TSN's preseason all-conference team for the American, though Aaron Lynch is honored as its "best pass rusher."

The magazine doesn't think highly of the American -- its offering for "descending" in the conference is ... the conference. "Well, everything," they write. "It would be silly to peg a program that's headed in the wrong direction when an entire, newfangled league is dangling by a thread."

-- Phil Steele offers his all-conference picks for the American -- as always, he goes four deep, which is a little easier in a 10-team league than in past years with eight in the Big East. USF is still pretty quiet -- defensive ends Lynch and Ryne Giddins are the only USF first-teamers. …

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Suspended WR Dunkley resolves legal issues

Chris Dunkley carries the ball during USF's spring game in 2012.


Chris Dunkley carries the ball during USF's spring game in 2012.

TAMPA -- Wide receiver Chris Dunkley, suspended from USF's football team since his arrest in September, has completed a pre-trial intervention program, so he will no longer face prosecution on the misdemeanor charge of domestic violence battery.

USF coach Willie Taggart said through a team spokesman that Dunkley's status with the team remains unchanged, suggesting he has more to do to return to the Bulls' roster. He has not participated in team activities since his initial suspension Oct. 1. If reinstated, he would have two years of remaining eligibility with the Bulls.

Dunkley, 22, who transferred to USF after one year at Florida, had four catches for 93 yards before his suspension, including a 52-yard touchdown in the Bulls' come-from-behind win at Nevada. His intervention program as a first-time offender required at least six months of intervention counseling and 12 months of supervision, but that can be amended if other requirements have been met.

Upon completion of his program, Dunkley's case was updated May 17 to show an agreement to "nolle prosse" (not prosecute) the case.

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USF bounced from Big East with 2-1 loss to Rutgers

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- For USF baseball coach Lelo Prado, Friday's 2-1 loss to Rutgers, eliminating the Bulls from the Big East tournament, was a microcosm of the final stretch of USF's season.

"The door's open. You've got to take advantage of it. You've got to finish the job," Prado said. "We haven't been able to finish the last two years when the door was wide-open. ... We've got to get to that point where we go through that door and finish the job. We can't be satisfied with this. I keep saying it. You just can't."

USF (36-22) had a shot in the ninth, getting a leadoff single from Alex Mendez and advancing him to second on a sacrifice bunt by James Ramsay. But Jimmy Falla struck out for the second out, and Chris Norton grounded out to second to end the game and the Bulls' season.

Two weeks ago, the Bulls were in position for the program's first NCAA regionals appearance since 2002, but USF was swept in three games at Seton Hall. The Bulls took two of three from the same Rutgers team last week, then beat the Scarlet Knights on Wednesday night, but that momentum was lost in the last two nights. …

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Bulls lose 7-0 lead, fall 8-7 in Big East tourney

CLEARWATER -- USF jumped out to a 7-0 lead on Connecticut, then gave up six runs in the fifth and saw the Huskies rally for an 8-7 win on a walkoff wild pitch in the Big East tournament Thursday night at Bright House Field.

USF (36-21) now has to beat Rutgers on Friday, then beat the Huskies twice on Saturday to earn a spot in Sunday's conference championship game. UConn (32-26), the eighth seed in the tournament, swept by USF in the regular season, gets today off and needs just one win Saturday to make the finals.

USF errors factored in both UConn's tying run in the eighth and the winning run in the ninth. USF opened the ninth with an error on a line drive to rightfielder Anthony Diaz, putting UConn's Stanley Paul on second base. With one out, Paul got to third on a wild pitch, and the Bulls intentionally walked the bases loaded. Reliever Jordan Strittmatter threw a second wild pitch and Paul scored the winning run without even a throw to the plate. …

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Q&A with new USF QB Steven Bench

Busy day in Clearwater leading up to tonight's 8 p.m. (or so) Big East baseball tournament game between USF and UConn, but on the drive in we had the chance to speak with USF's newest QB -- Penn State transfer Steven Bench, who announced Thursday morning that he had chosen the Bulls over N.C. State and Mississippi State.

Due to the NCAA sanctions at Penn State, Bench can transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year -- he'll have three years of eligibility with the Bulls and will compete with Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd for the starting job this fall. Here's what the 6-foot-2, 210-pound passer had to say on a variety of topics:

Q: First, with your decision today, what won things over for USF? …

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Penn State QB Bench chooses Bulls, will compete this fall

There is a prominent new challenger for USF's starting quarterback job this fall, as former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench announced Thursday that he will transfer to join the Bulls and be immediately eligible to play.

"I feel like it's the best place for me to go. The way they treated me down there on my visit was unbelievable," he said. "You could tell they went out of their way to make me feel wanted. They needed a quarterback, but they made me feel like they needed me to be their quarterback and that goes a long way."

Bench, who played sparingly as a true freshman last fall, will have three years of eligibility at USF -- he also visited N.C. State and Mississippi State in the past week before choosing the Bulls. He'll compete with rising senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd for the starting QB job under first-year coach Willie Taggart.

Bench won't start classes at USF until July 1 with the rest of the incoming class, but he said he hopes to move to Tampa in the next week or two so he can better get to know his future teammates and the offense Taggart will be running.

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Herget, Bulls beat Rutgers 5-2 in Big East tourney

CLEARWATER -- The day after he was named Big East Rookie of the Year, USF freshman Jimmy Herget pitched into the eighth inning, leading the Bulls to a 5-2 win against Rutgers in the opening round of the Big East tournament at Bright House Field.

On a day where the tournament's top two seeds lost their opening games, the fourth-seeded Bulls advanced to play eighth-seeded Connecticut at 8 p.m. for a spot in Saturday's semifinals. USF swept Connecticut on the road in the regular season, winning two one-run games and another in the 15th inning. Rutgers plays in an elimination game against top-seeded Louisville at 5. Third-seeded Pittsburgh and seventh-seeded Notre Dame also won in Thursday's opening-round games, beating St. John's and Seton Hall.

Rutgers had four hits in the first three innings, but Herget was able to get out of trouble and USF trailed just 1-0 on Brian O'Grady's sacrifice fly in the second. USF tied the game in the fourth, when Jimmy Falla reached base on a 12-pitch walk, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on Chris Norton's double. …

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Heath adds longtime NBA assistant Wells to staff

USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath has filled the first of three openings on his staff, adding longtime NBA assistant Mike Wells as an assistant coach.

Wells, 42, spent the last two seasons as an assistant on Paul Hewitt's staff at George Mason, but he spent 17 seasons in the NBA, working with two NBA champions in the 1995 Houston Rockets and 2007 San Antonio Spurs. He spent 10 seasons in Houston, moving up from assistant video coordinator to assistant coach, then spent time with the Lakers, Spurs and Wizards.

Much like Chuck Bresnahan did in bringing an NFL background to USF football, Wells has worked with a strong list of NBA coaches -- Rudy Tomjanovich, Gregg Popovich, and also Larry Brown while working as a scout for USA Basketball. Among the players he's worked with: Hall of Famers Clyde Drexler, Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen, as well as Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Yao Ming and John Wall. …

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American may create new bowl in south Florida

One potential venue that could be explored is Marlins Park, the Marlins' one-year-old stadium.

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One potential venue that could be explored is Marlins Park, the Marlins' one-year-old stadium.

PONTE VEDRA BEACH -- As the American Athletic Conference looks at a new bowl lineup after the 2013 season, commissioner Mike Aresco said Tuesday that the conference will consider creating its own bowl game, potentially in south Florida.

"We think that's doable. We think the finances can work," Aresco said. "We think ESPN's done a heck of a job with some of the bowls they've created, and we think it's time we did something like that. We like the idea of it."

Miami already has the Orange Bowl at Sun Life Stadium, the home stadium for the Dolphins and University of Miami. One potential venue that could be explored is Marlins Park, the Marlins' one-year-old stadium. The Big East has a strong recent history with bowl games in baseball stadiums -- its current agreement includes the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium and the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. …

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