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Bulls snubbed in preseason AP poll

For the first time in almost two years, the Bulls didn't appear on any AP voter's ballot
CHRIS URSO   |   Times
USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle said he'll use the Bulls' snubbing by AP voters as motivation.
CHRIS URSO | Times USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle said he'll use the Bulls' snubbing by AP voters as motivation.
Published Aug. 20, 2018

Less than two weeks before their season opener, the Bulls finally have a gaudy accessory to complement their new Adidas uniforms.

The ol' chip on their shoulder pads.

USF received no votes in the Associated Press preseason poll released Monday, marking the first time since Oct. 23, 2016 (following a 46-30 loss to Temple) that a Bulls team didn't appear on any voter's ballot.

"It's definitely motivation of course," junior MLB Nico Sawtelle said. "I know personally for me, I've always been an underdog and this whole team's kind of underdogs…so we're just gonna fight back and show everybody that they all made a mistake."

Related: Matt Baker's preseason AP top 25 ballot

While not expected to crack the top 25 following the departure of iconic QB Quinton Flowers, the complete omission of the Bulls comes as a bit of a surprise. Quarterback aside, USF returns a logjam of talent at most skill spots from a 10-2 squad.

"That's fine," senior nickel back Ronnie Hoggins said. "We don't mind doing what we do under the radar, and that's something we'll pride ourself on and just keep doing what we do."

MCDOOM ABOARD: USF confirmed Monday former Michigan WR Eddie McDoom has enrolled at USF and has been added to the roster. A former four-star prospect (per ESPN) from Winter Garden's West Orange High, McDoom totaled 16 receptions and 203 rushing yards the previous two seasons at UM. He'll have to sit out the '18 season per NCAA transfer rules, with two years' eligibility thereafter.

UTILITY MAN: The preseason raves continue pouring in for redshirt freshman DB Bentlee Sanders, who has two interceptions in as many scrimmages and, by virtually every account, has enjoyed a breakthrough August.

"He has amazing ball skills, that kid can catch the ball," Hoggins said. "He catches a pick every time. He's a ball magnet."

Related: USF preseason: some midpoint observations

Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary concurred (in not so many words), adding Sanders — a Tampa Catholic alumnus — has logged reps at safety, nickel and cornerback this preseason.

"He's shown the ability to make plays," Jean-Mary said. "I think he's gotten his hands on more balls than anyone else in the secondary and has done a great job there."

ODDS AND ENDS: For the first time in more than a week, TE Mitchell Wilcox suited up Monday, albeit in a non-contact jersey. Wilcox has been sidelined since Aug. 11 with an undisclosed upper-body injury. … Though Armwood High alumnus Mekhi LaPointe is listed as the backup to FS Jaymon Thomas, Jean-Mary acknowledged both could be on the field at the same time. "Because of the offenses that we face, the safeties have to kind of be interchangeable because they go so much with the up-tempo," Jean-Mary said.

AUDIBLE: "One thing the kids learned, great effort can overcome some of the missed assignments and missed fits, because the kids were flying around and having fun and it kinda covered up for each other. We stress playing hard and flying around and I think that was the point that was proven, because we had enough missed assignments Saturday that could've given us some problems." — Jean-Mary on Saturday's scrimmage, where observers (and Coach Charlie Strong) say the defense prevailed