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At last minute, Weston goes with USF

Neither South Florida nor Dante Weston can be accused of dillydallying. Perhaps that's why Weston and the Bulls found themselves a perfect fit Thursday.

Weston is a 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive tackle from the University of Miami who on Wednesday decided he was transferring to Connecticut. By Thursday night he was wearing a USF practice jersey and running drills with his new teammates.

A redshirt freshman out of Benjamin High in West Palm Beach, Weston was stuck behind senior All-American Richard Mercier at Miami. He wasn't willing to wait even one more year.

"I can't stand sitting on the bench," Weston said. "I just want to play. This is the perfect opportunity to come to a great team and get taken care of like family."

Weston had several scholarship offers before he actually spoke to USF coaches. On Wednesday morning he was set to tell UConn he was coming but decided to fly to USF in the afternoon to check out the campus.

He decided on the Bulls that night, and was in the car by 10 a.m. Thursday to move to his new home.

"I don't know how he'll do," coach Jim Leavitt said, "but he's a freshman, so we'll have time to work on him a little bit.

BIG IMPACT: His size is impressive enough, but freshman OT Joe Condron also has managed to delight the coaches with his skills. Condron, who claims to be 6-8, 355 pounds (though he's listed at "only" 6-7, 330), could get playing time at right tackle, where he's listed behind Isaac Bristol and Ken Dawson.

"He does move well," Leavitt said. "We don't have pads on, but I believe he'll challenge (at) right tackle."

Condron is joined on the team by his cousin, TE David Condron, a walk-on from St. Petersburg Catholic.

NO. 22: The Bulls are ranked 22nd in Division I-AA in Sports Illustrated's preview issue, published this week. The two official polls, run by the Sports Network and ESPN/USA Today, are expected to be released later this month.

CHANGE OF PACE: LB Antwan Fleming, a freshman out of Plant City, spent time at defensive end. Fleming reported to practices at about 265 pounds, which Leavitt called 20 or so pounds above his ideal weight.

"It doesn't mean we're moving him (to DE)," Leavitt said. "He's got such good feet and he's such a good football player and we do have a number of linebackers. I think he can play anywhere in the front seven."

_ SHARON GINN

Shipp to transfer

GAINESVILLE _ Sophomore WR Steve Shipp, a 1996 Parade All-American, has decided to transfer, Florida coach Steve Spurrier said.

Shipp played in six games last season and caught only one pass for minus-4 yards. He likely would have played even less this fall with the emergence of sophomore speedster John Capel, redshirt freshman Reche Caldwell and true freshmen Jabar Gaffney, Elgin Hicks and Taylor Jacobs.

Shipp also had been suspended for the first five games of the season for violating an unspecified university rule.

"I think he's inquiring about the opportunity to transfer, which probably is in his best interest," Spurrier said. "There's a lot of schools up near his (hometown) that will take him and should take him. We certainly wish him the best."

Shipp, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound Charlotte, N.C., native, had 76 receptions for 1,340 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior at West Charlotte High. He was one of the most highly recruited receivers in the nation before picking Florida over Tennessee.

Shipp redshirted in 1997 and has three years of eligibility remaining, but he would have to sit out a year if he transfers to another Division I-A school.

GRADDY GONE: As expected, Spurrier dismissed junior SS Rod Graddy, nearly a week after Graddy's involvement in an off-the-field incident that resulted in two arrests.

Spurrier said Graddy likely will transfer to a school, probably Division I-AA, where he could play this season.

Graddy started 11 games last season, with 75 tackles. He has two years of eligibility remaining.

Gainesville Police stopped Graddy's car shortly after a fight at a night club Friday. Two passengers, Timothy Taylor, 27, and Kenneth James Welch, 19, both of Gainesville, were arrested. Taylor was charged with strong-armed robbery and aggravated battery, Welch with a misdemeanor count of accessory after the fact. Graddy, who wasn't charged, was already under suspension for the first five games of the season for another rules violation.

THE SKINNY ON SKINNER: Junior WR Ian Skinner, who sustained a severe knee injury against Kentucky last season, will not be able to play this year. Skinner, however, did work out with team trainers Thursday.

"It's very unlikely he'll be physically ready to play this year," Spurrier said.

EXTRA POINTS: Redshirt freshman Todd Johnson moved from free safety to strong safety and likely will be the backup to starter Marquand Manuel. Freshman Daryl Dixon has moved from cornerback to free safety. Nine players, including FB Rod Frazier and CB Robert Cromartie, failed to complete the 12-minute run last week and had to run after practice. Sophomore FB Rob Roberts from Dade City-Pasco High worked with the first-team offense, replacing Frazier, who reported to camp five pounds overweight. Reserve QB Billy Young, a senior, was given a scholarship.

_ MARK LONG

Weather takes toll

ORLANDO _ For the third straight day, nature's elements were the team's worst enemy, as heat exhaustion took its toll in the morning and lightning shortened the evening practice.

Despite cooler temperatures than the previous two days, players suffered because of the heat.

Junior WR Kenny Clark and Tyson Hinshaw, junior DE Fred Harley and sophomore LB Tony Hardman could not make it through the morning practice. Only Hinshaw remained sidelined for the late session.

Sophomore DT Josh McKibben and senior OT David Wilson were among five players wearing non-contact jerseys. McKibben has a pulled hamstring and Wilson's back spasms continue.

Junior DT Jeff Mauldin also missed morning practice after having trouble with his heart medication. He returned later.

WR Charles Lee returned after missing three practices because of heat exhaustion.

UCF will use pads for the first time today, with coach Mike Kruczek planning to go over schemes that were introduced to the players during the first three two-a-days.

_ TONY MEJIA

Davis pleased

CORAL GABLES _ Coach Butch Davis came away pleased with the first workout in full pads. "It was an excellent start to practicing with full pads," he said. "In our full-speed live middle drills, guys were very physical at the point of attack on both offense and defense. It's easy to see how excited the guys are to be here and in full pads."

OG Richard Mercier (calf) and junior WR Daryl Jones (hamstring) were limited because of slight injuries. Sophomore OT Joaquin Gonzalez (ankle) sat out the afternoon session. Redshirt freshman Ed Wilkins worked with the first team in his place.

_ TIMES WIRES

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