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USF running back Jamar Taylor to miss up to 10 weeks

TAMPA — USF junior running back Jamar Taylor, feared lost for the season with a right knee injury, will not need surgery and will be sidelined eight to 10 weeks with the sprain, leaving open the possibility of returning for most of the Big East schedule.

"We are excited for JT," coach Jim Leavitt said in a statement.

Taylor was injured during Saturday's scrimmage and was on crutches at Fan Fest later that day. A return after eight weeks would allow Taylor to potentially play in USF's second Big East game, a key Oct. 15 showdown at home against Cincinnati. If it took 10 full weeks to return, Taylor would be in line to return Oct. 24 at Pittsburgh.

KICKING GAME: Freshman Renato Proia, one of the three soccer goalkeepers who worked out for Leavitt last week, has joined the Bulls as a walk-on and will compete for kickoff duties.

Leavitt is seeking a kickoff specialist so senior Delbert Alvarado doesn't have to handle more than punting, field goals and extra points. Walk-on Eric Schwartz is another possibility on kickoffs.

Proia, from Cape Coral, was a football and soccer standout at Mariner High, with 28 touchbacks on kickoffs.

STERLING EFFORT: More praise for freshman receiver Sterling Griffin, who has impressed coaches after missing the first week of drills with a hamstring injury. "Griffin is tearing it up right now," Leavitt said. "Right now, I'd say Griffin is going to play this year. He's made it clear he's going to challenge for the rotation right now."

champs sports bowl: The Big East announced a four-year agreement that will give the Orlando bowl the choice of any conference team not headed to a BCS game. But the bowl can pick Notre Dame over a Big East team once, if the Fighting Irish's record is at least 7-5 and within two wins of the Big East's No. 2.

UF: Barrie done?

GAINESVILLE — The ACL injury that offensive lineman Jim Barrie suffered last August may end his career with the Gators.

Barrie, a redshirt junior from Tampa, should have a final decision from the medical staff in the next few days. A team captain and four-year starter at Berkeley Prep, he was a top-30 prospect by Rivals.com, choosing Florida over 34 other Division I scholarship offers. Plagued by injuries at UF, he played one game (2007 vs. Florida Atlantic) and dressed for six games.

Coach Urban Meyer said Barrie might be a medical hardship, but "it doesn't look like he'll play again. That was a tough knee surgery last year. That was not a normal ACL injury."

BREAKING DOWN: Meyer said he can tell the two-a-day practices are starting to wear the Gators down. Which is exactly what they are intended to do.

"After doing this for so long, we're at the point where guys are banged up and there's not a whole lot of rah-rah out there, and they are feeling really bad, which is the objective of our camp," he said. "This is our opinion: You have to feel really lousy before you feel good. And we're at that point where everybody is feeling real lousy, which is a positive, that's good."

The players said they understand the brutal practices will ultimately be a benefit.

"You've got to be mentally tough and that's the reason we do it," offensive lineman Carl Johnson said. "Because in the fourth quarter, everything is on the line. We saw that in the national championship game."

For more on Gator practice, go to blogs.tampabay.com/gators/

UM: Cooper hobbled

CORAL GABLES — Running back Graig Cooper, Miami's leading rusher the past two seasons, missed practice, wearing a protective boot over his right foot and lower leg.

It's not clear if it will affect him in the opener against FSU.

"He's a little banged up with his ankle," coach Randy Shannon said. "But he'll be fine."

Shannon wasn't certain when Cooper got hurt.

Around the nation

Mississippi: Officials have canceled "Meet the Rebels Day" over fear of flu exposure.

southern california: Starting center Kristofer O'Dowd could be out for a few weeks after dislocating his right kneecap during a scrimmage.

SYRACUSE: Former Duke point guard Greg Paulus was named starting quarterback. A record-setting high school quarterback, he transferred and is playing football as a graduate student.

tennessee: The NCAA is investigating an eligibility issue with freshman tailback Bryce Brown, who has been working with the first team. The Associated Press reported that the NCAA is reviewing whether money was raised for Brown to visit colleges during his sophomore year in high school, before Tennessee was recruiting him.

utah: Corbin Louks plans to transfer to Nevada, saying that will give him a better opportunity to continue playing quarterback. He was listed at No. 1 entering fall camp, but was passed last week by freshman Jordan Wynn and junior college transfer Terrance Cain.

MICHIGAN-UCONN SERIES: Michigan and Connecticut will meet in football for the first time, at Ann Arbor on Sept. 4, 2010, and at East Hartford on Sept. 21, 2013.

Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.

USF running back Jamar Taylor to miss up to 10 weeks 08/18/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 10:58am]

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