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USF's Chandler strong as a Bull

TAMPA

Who, you might ask, is the strongest player on USF's football team?

Head strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub says it's junior defensive tackle Todd Chandler.

"He's insanely strong," said Straub, who said Chandler can do the NFL combine test of bench-pressing 225 pounds 37 times — the highest total at the 2013 combine was 38, by two players drafted in the top three rounds. Bucs rookie defensive tackle Akeem Spence also had 37 reps.

Two seniors — defensive end Julius Forte and guard Steven Jacques — are the next-strongest players, said Straub, who came to USF from Stanford in January.

By the numbers

3 Bulls with more than 12 career starts: LB DeDe Lattimore (35), OT Quinterrius Eatmon (22) and DE Ryne Giddins (20)

7 USF players who have earned three letters, and six are on defense: Forte, Giddins, S JaQuez Jenkins, S Mark Joyce, Lattimore and DT Luke Sager. RB Marcus Shaw is the lone one on offense.

Found a home

Another of Hans Straub's strongest is an unlikely name — walk-on fullback Ryan Eppes (left), a fifth-year senior from Largo. Eppes came to USF as a 185-pound quarterback in 2009, and has been busy in the weight room. He now weighs 236, having moved to linebacker last year and to fullback this spring, where he could play regularly.

Eppes, who can do 34 reps at 225 pounds, has played three games at USF — he had one carry for a 2-yard loss in a 2011 win against Florida A&M — and is now competing with freshmen Auggie Sanchez and Kennard Swanson.

Another big one

When USF travels to face Michigan State on Sept. 7, the Bulls should draw one of the 10 largest crowds in their history.

Spartans Stadium — where the Spartans went 2-5 last season — drew at least 70,000 fans for all its home games last year, which would mean at least the ninth-largest crowd to see the Bulls.

Only two of the top 10 came in former coach Skip Holtz's three seasons — the second-biggest crowd of 90,612 in 2010 at Florida, and the fifth-biggest for USF's 2011 win at Notre Dame, which drew 80,795.

These could fall

Keep an eye on USF's tight end receiving records, which could all be broken given coach Willie Taggart's penchant for using the position prominently. Sophomore Sean Price broke out in the second half of last season, getting 21 catches for 209 yards in the final six games.

Trevor Hypolite set most of the records in 1997, USF's first season — game records of seven catches and 75 yards and season records of 34 catches and 390 yards.

USF's Chandler strong as a Bull 08/26/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 9:20pm]
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