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Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Joey Knight

A fourth-generation Floridian, Joey Knight was born in Tampa and raised in Zephyrhills, where he still resides. He moved to the Times in July 2006 after 15 years at the Tampa Tribune, which included a seven-year stint (1997-2004) as University of Florida beat writer. He began covering the University of South Florida athletic department for the Times in 2013. A married father of three, he enjoys running, classic television and classic heavy-metal music.

Phone: (813) 310-6328

E-mail: jknight@tampabay.com

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  1. Former USF center Jaleel Cousins arrested

    Blog

    Former USF C Jaleel Cousins was arrested early Thursday morning following an altercation in a south Tampa bar.

    Cousins, 22, was booked on misdemeanor charges of battery and resisting an officer without violence. He was released at 8:21 a.m. on $1,000 bond, according to public records.

    According to a Tampa Police Department arrest affidavit, Cousins was involved in an altercation inside The DrYnk Lounge at 302 S. Howard Ave. After a verbal dispute between several subjects, Cousins was observed striking another patron with a closed fist, leading to a fight between the two.

    Cousins refused several verbal commands by a law-enforcement officer to stop fighting, and subsequently was struck with a Tazer, the affidavit states.

    A junior college transfer, Cousins played the past two seasons for the Bulls, averaging 8.5 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds this past season. One of six siblings, he's the younger brother of Sacramento Kings star DeMarcus Cousins....

    Former USF center Jaleel Cousins was arrested early Thursday morning in South Tampa.
  2. Jamie Byrd: 'No answers' for being bypassed by NFL

    Blog

    After spending the last two years delivering some of the fiercest blows on USF's defense, S Jamie Byrd suddenly finds himself recovering from one.

    Right to the psyche.

    "I have no answers, really," he said.

    By dusk Saturday, 253 players' names had been called at the NFL Draft. By dusk Sunday, countless others -- including six USF guys -- had landed deals as undrafted free agents, earned mini-camp tryouts or been invited to single-day workouts. Byrd's cellphone never buzzed....

    Former USF safety Jamie Byrd, holding daughter Aniya, still is holding out hope of being invited to an NFL camp.
  3. Expansion update: Memphis makes Big 12 pitch

    Blog

    The buzz over possible Big 12 expansion continues its steep ascension to the fever-pitch stratosphere, with reports that Memphis is seriously jostling for a spot at the Power Five conference's table.

    The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported Tuesday that school president M. David Rudd released a Memphis promotional publication on his Twitter account, presumably to sell the city and school to the Big 12.

    The same story also reported Rudd sent the publication along with a letter to Texas president Dr. Gregory Fenves in December. Rudd also told Fenves in the letter he would “welcome the chance to connect via phone and discuss in more depth some of the great things going on in Memphis.”

    The report comes on the heels of a similar ploy by Cincinnati president Santa Ono and -- to a lesser degree -- Connecticut president Susan Herbst to court favor with the Big 12. USF, meantime, is believed to be marketing its brand to possible expansion suitors more covertly, leaving few traceable tracks.

    Amid this hubbub was Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby announcing findings favorable to expansion from an analytics firm commissioned by the leage. The findings indicated adding two teams to the Big 12 would increase its chances of reaching the College Football Playoff by 4 to 5 percent.  

    And just what might Big 12 presidents be seeking in possible expansion candidates? We tried tackling that in this Times story published Tuesday....

  4. USF softball rebounds with remarkable resilience

    Colleges

    TAMPA — He's 55, has managed nearly 1,300 games at USF, and probably has forgotten more softball than some of his peers may ever grasp.

    So forgive Bulls coach Ken Eriksen if he can't quite remember the last time one of his teams bucked the odds as valiantly as his current one.

    A season that began with a bleak prognosis (fourth in American Athletic Conference preseason poll) and later was jarred by a player's frightening diagnosis (cancer), captured its first conference regular season title in eight years Saturday....

    USF softball coach Ken Eriksen praises the “grind’’ that the team has shown in overcoming a 2-7 start. “We have no superstars,” he says.
  5. Bulls men's golf team wins conference crown

    Blog

    After a sluggish outset in Sunday's opening round, the Bulls men's golf team roared back for a dominant triumph at the American Athletic Conference Tournament at Lecanto's Black Diamond Ranch.

    The Bulls, ranked 13th nationally by Golfweek, applied the finishing flourish to their second consecutive league crown with a 10-under-par team score Tuesday. Their three-day, 19-under 845 was 20 strokes better than runner-up Memphis.

    The final results can be found here. After shooting 5-over collectively after the tournament's first four holes, the Bulls shot 24-under over the final 50.

    Bulls senior Aksel Olsen shot a 3-under 69 on Tuesday and finished 7-under for the tournament to win medalist honors by a stroke. Teammates Chase Koepka (5-under) and Claudio Correa (4-under) finished third and fourth, respectively.

    USF, a conference tournament champ three of the last four seasons, learns its postseason fate Thursday during the NCAA Division I Men's Golf Regional Selection Show at 9:30 a.m. on Golf Channel....

  6. Amid Big 12 expansion chatter, USF Bulls seek greater stature

    College

    TAMPA — Occasionally, the tension of sports can spill over to its business side. Depending on the nature of the legislation, a bylaw here or amendment there can elicit glee or groans from the affected fan base.

    Why else would many USF constituents be anxiously awaiting the outcome of meetings being staged a time zone or two away? For Bulls supporters who feel mired in a less-heralded conference, no three syllables sound sweeter than ex-pan-sion, and they're hoping the word bounces off faraway board rooms all month....

    New University of South Florida athletic director Mark Harlan, left, shakes hands with president Judy Genshaft after a press conference introducing him as the new AD at the USF Selmon Athletic Center on Tuesday, March 11, 2014. DANIEL WALLACE   |   Times

  7. Bulls reportedly land 6-11 USC transfer

    Blog

    In the wake of two significant frontcourt losses, USF reportedly has landed USC 6-foot-11 transfer Malik Martin.

    CBSSports' Jon Rothstein was the first to report the move. Martin, a Miami native who played his senior year at Brandon's Faith Baptist, must sit out the 2016-17 season unless granted a waiver by the NCAA.

    His Trojans bio can be found here. Equipped with fleetness and 3-point efficiency that belies his size, Martin started 15 games (and played in a total of 29) as a freshman, averaging 5.2 points and 3.6 boards and shooting 52.4 percent from the floor. But his playing time dipped dramatically (6.6 minutes per game) this past season as an influx of promising young talent arrived.

    All five of last season's starters are expected to remain at USC, and three more recruits come in.

    Martin becomes the Bulls' fifth Division I transfer in Coach Orlando Antigua's two-plus years, joining PF Isaiah Manderson (Texas Tech), G Geno Thorpe (Penn State), F Angel Nunez (Gonzaga) and PG Roddy Peters (Maryland).

    He'll eventually help fill a void created by the departure of 6-11 senior Jaleel Cousins and dismissal of 6-8 PF Chris Perry....

  8. Six undrafted Bulls will get NFL shot

    Blog

    As expected the NFL Draft fallout has been far kinder to the Bulls than the draft itself.

    Though no Bull was drafted for the first time since 2012, six seniors from last season's team are headed to NFL mini-camps or workouts in the coming days. Here's the updated list (and no, as of Monday morning S Jamie Byrd still hadn't heard from an NFL team):

    QB Steven Bench: Bucs (tryout player at mini-camp)
    P Mattias Ciabatti: Redskins (mini-camp)
    OL Brynjar Gudmundsson: Bucs (tryout player at mini-camp)
    OG Thor Jozwiak: Bucs (tryout player at mini-camp)
    DE Eric Lee: Texans (agreed to undrafted free-agent deal)
    TE Sean Price: Ravens (workout on Thursday)...

    Former USF tight end Sean Price will work out Thursday for the Ravens.
  9. Maglich's late-inning drama lifts Bulls past UCF

    Blog

    On one of the season's most raucous nights at USF Baseball Stadium, Bulls senior RF Luke Maglich didn't merely create the drama, he provided the prelude as well.

    An inning after potentially saving three UCF runs with arguably the defensive play of the season, Maglich hit a walk-off double to left field, clinching a 5-4 victory before the third-largest crowd (2,794) in the stadium's six-year history.

    "I thought it was a huge win for us," said Maglich, whose club (21-22, 6-8) clinched its first American Athletic Conference series of the season.

    "We got off to a big lead right away, but we faced a lot of adversity. We were able to hang in there and make sure that we made the plays when we needed to, and then we found a way to get on in the ninth, and from there it was kind of history."

    In a sense, Maglich -- 5-for-8 with four RBIs in this series -- began the game the way he ended it. Two batters after Kevin Merrell's leadoff single in the top of the first, Maglich hit a two-run home run to right, giving the Bulls a 2-0 lead.

    In the bottom of the ninth, after Merrell hit a one-out single and Duke Stunkel was intentionally walked, Maglich sent Trent Thompson's 3-2 pitch to the left field warning track. Game over.

    "Obviously (Merrell and Maglich) are talented players and they have experience," Bulls coach Mark Kingston said. "So when they get in those big situations they know how to handle 'em."

    The biggest situation of the night might have occurred in the top of the eighth.

    With one out and the bases loaded, Maglich made a diving snag of a Matthew Mika liner, then caught Matt Diorio off the first-base bag with a heady throw for a double play, keeping the score tied at 4-all.

    "I think the best play of the year, and maybe the best play I've seen in the last five years," Kingston said.

    "When he made that catch I looked up and I saw that the guy was tagging and going home; I thought that's where the throw was gonna go. For him to have the presence of mind to throw that ball to first, and for Duke Stunkel to be there covering the bag, just tremendous."

    Merrell finished with three more hits Saturday, and is 5-for-7 with two RBIs in this series, which ends with Game Three on Sunday at noon. C Joe Genord finished 3-for-4.

    Hernando High alumnus Brandon Lawson worked the first seven innings for USF, allowing three earned runs on five hits, striking out eight and walking one. Andrew Perez held UCF hitless in the final 1.2 innings to pick up the win....

  10. Spoto alum Geronimo Allison to join Packers

    Blog

    Grandparents, cousins, friends and former coaches arrived. So did servers and appetizers and entrees and soft drinks.

    But the phone call Geronimo Allison had spent a lifetime awaiting never did.

    The former Illinois -- and Spoto High -- receiver arrived on the patio of the Lee Roy Selmon's in Brandon around noon Saturday, only to hang around anxiously as the day evolved into one long drag route.

    Drag it did. Roughly seven hours after his arrival, most of the 60 or so well-wishers who had shown up expecting a celebration had come and gone. So too had the NFL Draft's final four rounds. Allison spent most of the day nestled on a sofa in the patio's corner, taking a periodic call on his cell phone and saying little.

    "Man, it seemed to last forever," Allison said. "As teams went by, as picks went by, as time went by, it just seemed like an eternity. ... But things happen for a reason."

    That reason could begin to reveal itself Sunday, when Allison boards a plane for Green Bay.

    Moments after the draft's conclusion, Allison -- who estimates he heard from every NFL club at some point during the weekend -- agreed to free-agent terms with the Packers.

    The kid who dug himself out of two years of academic ineligibility at Spoto to evolve into an NFL prospect now has a chance to complete his mission: providing for a family of five (including a single mom, brother and maternal grandparents) who still reside in his boyhood three-bedroom Progress Village home.

    "This is just part of my story that God has planned for me," said Allison, who totaled 106 catches at Illinois the past two seasons after helping lead Iowa Western Community College to a juco national title in 2012. "I'm just gonna embrace it."...

    Spoto High alumnus Geronimo Allison watches the NFL Draft Saturday from a Lee Roy Selmon's patio with mom Melissa Glover (orange shirt) and cousin Gloria Glover.
  11. USF Bulls top UCF Knights in baseball, fall in softball

    College

    TAMPA — Mostly inconsistent in his first four American Athletic Conference starts, Phoenix Sanders was mostly infallible in his fifth.

    The USF right-hander allowed two hits over eight innings and tied his career high with 12 strikeouts in a 2-0 triumph against UCF on Friday before a crowd of 800. The Bulls (20-22, 5-8) can win their first conference series of the season with a win tonight against the Knights (21-23, 5-8)....

  12. Assessing NFL draft — the 2011 draft, with 5 years' perspective (w/video)

    Bucs

    For those who gorged themselves on mock drafts all week and Mel Kiper's pontificating all weekend, here's hoping you saved room for the final course.

    Post-draft analysis. As sure as Roger Goodell gives out hugs, NFL pundits everywhere are grading the quality of each team's draft harvest with knee-jerk aplomb. Never mind that a draft class' value can't be truly assessed for at least three years; it's more fun to suspend reality and partake of instant analysis....

    Outside linebacker Malcolm Smith #53 of the Seattle Seahawks carries the ball against running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos in the second quarter during Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
  13. Quiet draft weekend expected for Bulls

    Blog

    A little sage, sobering advice for USF fans counting the remaining hours until the start of the NFL Draft: Don't hold your breath.

    For that matter, don't skip out on your favorite Friday night diversion for the sake of Mel Kiper and Co. Any USF player with a reasonable shot at being drafted almost certainly will remain on the board until Saturday afternoon, when the final four rounds will be held. At that point, a Bull or two has a chance.

    This seven-round mock draft from WalterFootball.com projects USF to be bypassed entirely. So does this one from draftsite.com.

    Similarly, no Bull shows up on this one from NFL.com analyst Chad Reuter, nor on this one from drafttek.com. Yet Eric Lee reportedly worked out for the Texans only last week, leaving fans to surmise what Houston's 11th-hour tire-kicking means for the Bulls defensive end.

    Not that the weekend will be a total wash. By Sunday night, we expect a handful of Bulls to receive a ticket to an NFL training camp via a free-agent deal. Happens annually....

    Of all the NFL Draft-eligible Bulls, defensive end Eric Lee likely has the best shot at being picked this weekend.
  14. Bulls women add juco point guard

    Blog

    USF's women's basketball team continued its roster replenishment Thursday, confirming it has signed junior college PG Nachalie De Jesus.

    A 5-foot-7 Puerto Rico native who has spent the last two seasons at Miami Dade College, De Jesus becomes the Bulls' sixth signee from the Class of 2016. The program announced the signing of Hungarian star Dorottya Nagy on Wednesday.

    "I'm really excited to have Nachalie join our program,' Coach Jose Fernandez said in a news release. "I think she fills our immediate need for depth in the backcourt and her experience at Miami Dade College will give her a chance to make an impact early."

    A Puerto Rican senior national team member, De Jesus averaged 21.8 points as a Miami Dade sophomore this past season, hitting 48 percent (69-for-144) of her 3-point attempts. She also averaged 8.1 rebounds and 3.4 steals, and was named to the WBCA Junior/Community College Coaches' All-America team.

    USF returns junior PG Laia Flores, who boasted nearly a 2-to-1 assist/turnover ratio in 26 starts last season, but late-season offensive catalyst Shalethia Stringfield (9.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, team-high 44 steals) graduated....

  15. Q&A: Orlando Antigua

    Blog

    While observing an NCAA quiet period (and undoubtedly preparing for a slew of summer evaluations), USF men's basketball coach Orlando Antigua spent roughly 15 minutes with reporters Tuesday afternoon to discuss the state of the program. Our story on the Bulls' outlook for Year 3 of the Antigua era can be found here, but we've cobbled most of the chat into the following Q-and-A form.

    How is Troy Holston Jr. looking? (Holston missed all of last season with a torn left ACL.)
    "Looking really good. As expected, initially when we started on-the-court stuff and he was able to participate, he was a little tentative at first. And when he got tired he stopped thinking about it, then he looked normal."

    Bulls fans want to know: Will Jahmal McMurray be in your backcourt next season? (McMurray entered the NBA Draft, but said Tuesday he'll withdraw his name before May 25.)
    "I think so. I think Jahmal is exploring with the new rule changes, his opportunities to get educated and to see where he's at. I think he's very realistic as to what the process is about, so I expect him to be in the backcourt."

    Did you float the idea of entering his name, or did he come to you?
    "It was something that he came, and his family wanted to explore with the new rule change, and I was fully supportive of it. ... Worst-case scenario for us is that he is invited and he gets drafted. ... Best-case scenario is, you get a kid that's had a great year as a freshman and gets a chance to explore, get educated on what he needs to continue to improve on, and he comes back with a new passion, new energy, and ready to continue to lead this ball club."

    With the recent upheaval in the program (PG Roddy Peters and PF Chris Perry were dismissed), will stability ensue?
    "No question. I think in these first few transitional years, there's some of that stuff that happens. It's natural, it's normal and you want players that want to be here that are gonna represent the program in the way we want it to represent, and that are fully committed to doing the things that we're asking them to do."

    What do you say to fans who see kids getting dismissed and think the sky is falling?
    "I say I think we have a really good nucleus of players returning, and a really good recruiting class coming in. And we're still working. We're still working to add pieces to the puzzle."

    This is a performance-based business. You're headed into Year 3 after two very lean years. You've gotta get it done now, right?
    "Yes, absolutely. It's been the same attitude that we've had to try to get things going and establish the foundation of what we're gonna build our reputation on. And unfortunately, we've had some issues that we've had to deal with that come up with injuries and all the other things we've had to deal with in the past two years. We're finally hopefully looking to have a complete 13-man roster (next season)."

    You played a pretty unforgiving non-conference schedule (Kentucky, South Carolina, Seton Hall, N.C. State) last season. Will it be modified this year?
    "Some of those decisions on the schedule we were already in, and other decisions we were trying to take advantage of opportunities at the times, with the South Carolina and the Kentucky game and those kind of things. But this year, we're still trying to finalize the schedule obviously, and we're progressing to where it's gonna be a schedule that's gonna be a little more manageable for us as we continue to build the (players') confidence -- which is important."

    Antigua also commented on each of his three incoming freshmen:

    PF Troy Baxter (Oldsmar Christian): "High-level athlete who shoots the ball better than people think, who can play three, four, and in a situation if you needed him, can defend the two; he moves his feet well enough. Jumps out of the moon. Allows you to play a different way with him, being able to get up and down and defensively."

    PG Andres Feliz (Orlando West Oaks): He's won everywhere he's been. ... Tough, hard-nosed facilitator that can score. But he's a natural point guard that looks to facilitate but can also shoot the ball and look to score. Defensive presence, leader who's gonna get into folks."

    SF Malik Fitts (Brewster Academy, New Hampshire): "This year (in prep school) really served him. He was a kid that had an injury early on in his career and had gained some weight and was a little bit oversized for a 6-6 kid. But he can shoot the ball, skilled, passes. ... From what I hear from his prep-school coach he's down to about 210 pounds now, and that's added some athleticism to him, which he's gonna need in order to be able to move his feet to guard twos and threes, which is what he can play for us."
    ...

    USF coach Orlando Antigua finally hopes to have a full complement of players available in his third season.