Running back Quinton Callum, the newest member of South Florida's football team, lacks college experience but not confidence. After starter Clenton Crossley sprained his ankle against Houston, Callum told Bulls coach Jim Leavitt last week he was ready for his first start.
Leavitt made him stew a bit, pointing out to the media that Callum fumbled against Houston and he might start No. 3 rusher Vince Brewer instead. Late Thursday, running backs coach Leroy Ryals gave Callum the news: He was in.
The sophomore responded with four touchdowns Saturdayin a 48-17 victory against Western Illinois, tying two USF records. The four touchdowns _ three rushing, one receiving _ tied one single-game record; his three rushing touchdowns tied for another.
Not bad for a player whose name isn't in the media guide. Callum, who signed with Florida State in 1999 out of Lake City Columbia but did not qualify academically, joined the Bulls in August. He spent the 1999 season at Jones (Miss.) Community College, but did not play last season in the hope of playing three years in Division I.
Callum said once he graduated from junior college, he had scholarship offers from FSU, Miami, Florida and Virginia Tech, but wanted a chance to play right away _ and play close to home.
"I wanted to build a winning program," he said. "I liked the coaching staff and loved the players."
The feeling is mutual.
"Quinton Callum's been a real pleasant surprise for us," Leavitt said. "We've been trying to get Quinton here for probably a year and a half. He really worked hard (academically) to get it done."
Callum finished with 80 yards on 19 carries, giving him a team-best 338 yards for the season. Brewer outgained Callum, rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries, but fumbled once and did not score.
Inside the 20-yard line was where Callum shined. With one of his high school coaches watching from the stands, the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Callum carried on a Columbia tradition _ punching the ball in from the red zone. His scoring runs were short but effective; all from 1 yard, one in each of the first three quarters. His touchdown catch was on an 8-yard shovel pass from Marquel Blackwell.
"Where I come from, the high schools believe in pushing in, being powerful," he said. "It's nothing new, (scoring) in that red zone."