TAMPA — DT Terrell McClain is the one that NFL scouts are most likely to have their eyes on, but for the rest of USF's draft hopefuls, Thursday's pro day workouts are their best opportunity to show they deserve a look in an NFL camp this fall, that is, if there are NFL camps this fall.
McClain, the only USF player invited to the NFL combine in Indianapolis, has been projected as high as a second-round pick — ESPN.com's Todd McShay is projecting him to go with the 56th overall pick, to the New Orleans Saints. McClain said Tuesday that he will run the 40 again Thursday, hoping to trim a fraction of a second off his combine time, generally reported as 5.02 seconds, which isn't bad for a 297-pounder. He won't participate in the bench press, content to stick with the 29 repetitions of 225 pounds he had at the combine.
After McClain, the rest of USF's seniors are battling to be drafted — with the NFL lockout, there will be no undrafted free agents signed until an agreement is reached. That group includes C Sampson Genus, DB Mistral Raymond, WR Dontavia Bogan, LB Jacquian Williams and DEs Craig Marshall and David Bedford.
ON THE ROAD: USF softball has an 18-15 record, but the Bulls have their first road games this weekend, opening up the conference season with three games at St. John's. Ken Eriksen's team has optimism entering Big East play, but one area to shore up is its defense, ranking second-to-last in the league in fielding percentage with 53 errors.
The construction of USF's new stadium meant less opportunities to work on glove work before the season — it's hard to take infield when there is no infield. But Eriksen has been pleased with the consistent production at the plate from freshmen such as Stephanie Medina, Kourtney Salvarola and Ashli Goff, and speedy junior Gina Kafalas leads the Big East in hits, runs and stolen bases. His pitching needs consistency, but freshman lefty Sara Nevins of Pinellas Park and sophomore Lindsay Richardson have shown plenty of promise in the first half of the season.
QUICK IMPRESSION: South Dakota coach Ed Meierkort sent his young DBs coach Byron Thomas down to USF this spring to spend three days learning from Skip Holtz and Bulls defensive coordinator Mark Snyder.
Thomas, a four-year starter at linebacker at South Dakota who graduated in 2009, showed enough in those three days that Holtz has added him to his coaching staff as the Bulls' new defensive graduate assistant.
"The kid is striking. He doesn't carry himself like a graduate assistant. He acts like he's 35 years old," said Meierkort, whose I-AA program upset Minnesota 41-38 last fall. "I sent him down there to learn about coaching cornerbacks, and he struck gold. I'm very happy for him. I think it's fantastic."
THIS AND THAT: Items from the personal collection of former USF baseball coach and Phillies great Robin Roberts will be auctioned off at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia next month, including his Hall of Fame induction ring (estimated at more than $15,000) and his 2008 Phillies World Series ring ($20,000-plus). Proceeds will benefit his family — many of whom still live in Tampa — as well as Phillies Charities. Roberts died May 6. For information on the auction, visit Huntauctions.com. ... Former USF men's basketball assistant Dan Hipsher, now an assistant at Alabama, could be returning to Florida. He's been mentioned as a candidate for the head coaching opening at Florida Gulf Coast University, near Fort Myers.