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Junior Tyrone McKenzie, who totaled 129 tackles at Iowa State last season, entered fall drills as a backup but hopes to move into a starting position at one of the outside linebacker spots.

"What I did last year doesn't mean anything over here. I have to earn my stripes again," said the former Riverview High star, listed as a backup to sophomore Chris Robinson at strongside linebacker. "Basically, I have to go out and prove myself to my teammates and my coaches."

USF is seeking new starters at both outside spots after losing Stephen Nicholas and Patrick St. Louis to graduation. McKenzie said he hopes to improve on the second-team all-conference honors he earned in the Big 12 last season.

"I hope to be an All-American. I have to set the bar high and have lofty standards to push myself," he said. "I'm willing to work and willing to be taught. And hopefully, that combination will get me to where I want to go."

NIGHT OFF: Practice was called off after about a half-hour Tuesday night due to lightning. The Bulls return at 8 tonight.

TWO MORE IN: Two incoming freshmen, defensive lineman Kyle Dampier and linebacker Keith McCaskill, were accepted for fall classes, leaving three signees in academic limbo.

Safety Charlton Sinclair and defensive tackle Corian Garrison (who will miss the season recovering from knee surgery) have not been cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse. And safety Jerrell Young of Gibbs High has not been admitted because he hasn't completed the application process.

STEPPING IN: The defensive secondary includes three players who came to USF as quarterbacks, including sophomore Nate Allen, expected to be the starting free safety.

"We're pretty much the quarterbacks on the (defense)," Allen said. "We call the checks and everything, so we have to know what the offense is coming out in. You really have to know your stuff. I've got to know this defense like the back of my hand."

USF returns two veteran cornerbacks in seniors Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins with junior Carlton Williams ahead of Louis Gachette for the secondary's final starting spot at strong safety.

"Both of those guys can play either (safety), but they've got the body types of strong safeties," secondary coach Troy Douglas said. "So when we go to eight-man fronts, we want them to be down in the box."

CLEAN START: Most of the freshmen reported for media day at Raymond James Stadium with their heads freshly shaved, an unofficial welcome to college football.

"It's completely optional, but it's a rite of passage," senior center Nick Capogna said. "They're not going to be seeing girls for a while anyway. Plus they're freshmen, which is hard enough."

Times correspondent Brendan Galella contributed to this report. Greg Auman can be reached at or at (813) 226-3346.