DE George Selvie
2009 Schedule
9-5-09 WOFFORD
9-12-09 at Western Kentucky
9-26-09 at Florida State
10-3-09 at Syracuse
10-15-09 CINCINNATI (Thur.)
10-24-09 at Pittsburgh
10-30-09 WEST VIRGINIA (Fri.)
11-12-09 at Rutgers (Thur.)
11-28-09 MIAMI FL
12-5-09 at Connecticut
Coach: Jim Leavitt
87-52, 12 years
2008 Results: 8-5
at UCF WON 31-24 (OT)
at FIU WON 17-9
at NC State WON 41-10
at Louisville LOST 20-24
at Cincinnati LOST 10-24
at West Virginia LOST 7-13
Memphis WON 41-14

2008 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR


2009 Outlook

USF will be the only team in the Big East with a new offensive and defensive coordinator. Mike Canales takes over on offense (spent last two years as the Bulls passing game coordinator / receivers coach) while Joe Tresey (Cincinnati Defensive Coordinator last season) takes the reigns on defense. Tresey became a part of this staff less than a week before spring ball started.

Offensively, the Bulls will incorporate new schematics, but the changes will not be that drastic. Canales promises to spread the offense out more while moving away from the two-back power running attack. Under this premise, the coaches would love to have one of their promising ball carriers emerge as that every-down back. In reality, Ford, Plancher and Taylor is each far too qualified to remain off the field.

Still, for three straight seasons, QB Matt Grothe has been the team's leading rusher. He has been the staple of this offense ever since taking over as a freshman. He continues to hurt opponents with his knack for making spur-of-the-moment plays, but in order to take the next step, which includes finally getting press in the Heisman Race, Grothe will have to avoid those crucial turnovers. He really has enough talent surrounding him now, so for the team’s benefit, it's important for Grothe to realize how he does not have to win games on his own.

Grothe has a deep well of receivers. Whether it is Hester, Love or Bogan...they all are dangerous and will make life extremely tough on opposing coverage units. In fact, the offensive skill positions are about as good as any under the longtime direction of head coach Jim Leavitt (only football head coach ever here).

However, USF has a major concern. The offensive line is currently in shambles. Gone are four full-time starters, and injuries have wreaked major havoc all spring. The top seven blockers from a year ago are all missing. Newcomers are expected to play a major role, but the Bulls are a few injuries away from guaranteed struggles up front. This by far is the biggest question mark heading into September.

For the first time since 2000, Wally Burnham will not be calling the Bulls defense. His group ranked in the top 30 nationally in five of the last six seasons. Leavitt made a huge move by wooing Tresey here from Cincinnati. He will keep in order much of what has been run under Burnham while mixing in some of the schemes that won Cincinnati a Big East title in '08. With All-American George Selvie lining up at end for his last season, this defensive front is primed to be one of the leagues best. A few key replacements will be needed in the back seven. What has made the Bulls so successful defensively over the years has been that Florida speed and this bunch continues to field much the same.

When people wonder how USF could climb so fast (after all they just started playing FBS/Division 1 football back in 2000) the answer can easily be found by looking at the roster. So many of their top athletes are from the surrounding Tampa area, a well known hot bed of high school talent. Offensive stars Grothe (Lakeland), Ford (Sarasota) and Love (Bradenton) all hail from somewhere near the Bay. Last year 95 of the 107 players hailed from the Sunshine State. This coaching staff, past and present, deserves much praise for being able to keep some of the best talent inside the local fence. Recruiting classes continue to be successful. Of the future stars, most every one will be redshirt freshman this fall.

On the other hand, preventing the same mid-season backslide that has haunted the program the past two seasons has to be fresh in the minds of the incumbent coaches and players. In 2007, they climbed to a No. 2 national ranking. In 2008, it was No. 10 in the polls before tumbling into a late season losing spell.

The Bulls should easily find themselves again undefeated (and ranked) headed into Tallahassee. September 26 will be the first time the Bulls have met their northern in-state counterpart. They won't hit the meat of conference play until mid-October, and unpredictable Miami makes the late season list (only the second meeting between the two). South Florida has a great chance to show the world how much they have evolved. The fact that USF has caught up with these two programs in the race for Sunshine State bragging rights has been nothing more than talk, until this year. However, it should be no surprise when they either beat or at least come close to winning these games, for Miami and FSU are far cries from the programs they were but less than a decade ago.

For the Bulls to take another step forward, two costly loose ends need tightening...penalties and turnovers. Among the 2008 national leaders in both (115th in penalties committed / 97th in turnover margin), neither aspect will help them overcome their usual late season plunge. Moreover, relying on so many newcomers, can USF even compete for a Big Eat crown and a first ever bowl trip played in the month of January?

Projected 2009 record: 8-4
QB - 4.5 DL - 4
RB - 4 LB - 3
WR - 4 DB - 3.5
OL - 2 ..
2008 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: Matt Grothe, 240-380-14, 2911 yds., 18 TD

Rushing: Matt Grothe, 146 att., 591 yds., 4 TD

Receiving: Jessie Hester, 54 rec., 579 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Maikon Bonani, 15-21 FG, 31-32 PAT, 76 pts.

Punting: Delbert Alvarado, 48 punts, 39.7 avg.

Maikon Bonani, 15-21 FG, 31-32 PAT, 76 pts.

Tackles: Jerome Murphy, 67 tot., 55 solo

Sacks: George Selvie, 5.5 sacks

Interceptions: Jerome Murphy, 2 for 11 yds.

Kickoff Returns:
Dontavia Bogan, 29 ret., 26.6 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: Theo Wilson, 8 ret., 12.9 avg., 1 TD


QB Matt Grothe
OT Carlos Savala - The 6'6, 310 pound transfer from the College of the Desert steps into a position of extreme need where four of the USF starters need replaced. He is one of five JUCO players signed in February.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul - A five-star rated rush end that was ranked the sixth best JUCO prospect overall by Rivals. A strong candidate to line up opposite two-time All-American George Selvie.
LB Jaquian Williams - The spot to replace Tyrone McKenzie on the strong side is still open for the taking. The 2008 First Team JUCO All-American is expected to make a big push.
2009 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Benjamin Williams-RB, Marcus Edwards-WR, Taurus Johnson-WR, Cedric Hill-TE, Ryan Schmidt-OT, Matt Huners-OG, Jake Griffin-C
DEFENSE: Jarriett Buie-DE, Tyrone McKenzie-SLB, Brouce Mompremier-WLB, Tyller Roberts-CB, Carlton Williams-SS

Fleet-footed Matt Grothe is still one of the nation's top dual-threat quarterbacks. The Tampa area native is only 6'0 tall, which won't help his NFL forecast, but by starring in the Bulls offense in this, his fourth year, his senior expectations have to be his biggest. Grothe blew into the Big East scene like a Gulf Coast hurricane his (redshirt) freshman year. Since then he has used his scrambling skills to keep opponents off balance while making things happen with the football, things that always seems to put his team into a winning position. He has led the Bulls in rushing in each of the past three seasons. But for all the hype that has been building, what’s held Grothe back as an All-American contender is his propensity to take extra risks and therefore throw interceptions. Three years of starting have seen 14 interceptions per campaign, giving him a grand touchdown-to-interception career ratio of 47-to-42. There are times when Grothe is forcing the ball too much with his arm, which winds up costing his team (as much as it helps them) in crucial situations. Coaches have put enough talent around him. Hopefully, he begins to realize he does not have to do it alone. This is a crucial year for Grothe’s legacy and how he’ll measures with the conference’s all-time best. Statistically, he is likely going to surpass former WVU great Pat White as the Big East record holder for career yards in total offense (10,529). If a backup needs to step in, that task goes to redshirt frosh B.J. Daniels. Believe it or not, he may be the most elusive signal caller on this roster. Daniels also assumes double-duty on the school's basketball squad. Despite an impressive performance in the spring football game, Daniels has said he has no intention of giving up hoops. His youth and inexperience are still evident behind center but he is currently the lock at the No. 2 spot. Next comes Evan Landi, also quite a scrambler. Landi has spent practice time as a DB, WR and special teams contributor.

2009 is shaping up nicely for Mike Ford. The former Rivals five-star RB out of Sarasota High has trimmed 20 pounds off his frame and in the weight room, he has become the strongest of his life. His quickness has been elevated in the process (according to teammates attempting to tackle the 6’2 shifty ball carrier.) After injuries riddled him last season (high ankle sprain), the time is now for the man with all the promise out of high school to begin meeting those expectations. He is worthy of being that every-down, 1,000-yard back. The next best option in this oft-used two-back set is senior Mo Plancher. He has many strong attributes; smarts and great change of direction are at/near the top. His cutting ability makes people miss, which gives this backfield a great second option behind Ford. Although coaches would love to have one back emerge and become the Bull’s dominant ground force, their is no denying the fact that these two are set to have their best seasons. Jamar Taylor is yet another player that will see time in this backfield. He was arguably the best USF RB at the conclusion of last season after ditching his prep tag as a hard-nosed fullback. If there was ever going to be a season where Grothe did not wind up as the team's leading rusher, this would be the one. But with the multi-talents of Ford, Plancher and Taylor (among other redshirt frosh that look to contribute), the carries still likely get split up. But watch out for Mike Ford. If healthy, he could easily be the premier running back out of the Big East.

If Grothe is going to produce the best passing season of his career, he will have an extremely gifted and deep array of receivers to utilize. The best talent of the bunch is Jessie Hester, son of former Florida State great Jessie Hester (1981-84). Voted as the Offensive MVP by his staff and teammates a year ago, he led the team with 54 receptions, the second most by a USF wide out in a single season. The great news is that opposing defenders will not have the luxury of double teaming Hester. Not only is this a deep and talented unit, but also the lineup is filled with veterans. A.J. Love was the only receiver to start 13 games a year ago and was the team's prime deep threat (injured his knee in the bowl game). The receivers are one of the team’s deepest units, and that depth got its chance this spring when injuries that sidelined both Hester and Love afforded younger WRs extra reps with the first teamers. (Hester will still be in a cast through May after having pins put in to stabilize his foot. Love still continues to rehab the knee. Both are expected back this fall.) One of Grothe's newest favorites is Dontavia Bogan, who emerged this spring. The very athletic junior is proving to be dependable weapon in the clutch. Carlton Mitchell was a rising star with as much talent as any receiver ever to come through USF; he set freshman records for receptions and yards two years ago. He was slowed with injury last fall but hopes to regain his form. The loss of Cedric Hill leaves a big hole at the tight end spot. Ben Busbee inherits the featured role and is one of the most physically fit players on the squad. His bruising style is better suited for helping out the running game. Despite being a two-year backup behind Hill, Busbee has seen his share of time on the field.

While the offense appears deeply stacked at the skill positions, the same cannot be said with the front line. If the old adage that games are truly won up front holds true, the Bulls have some major holes. Gone are four full-time starters. Attempting to fill their shoes will be two players (Sims and Herman) that saw sporadic time in the starting lineup while another (Genus) moves over from defensive tackle in an effort to bolster the group. This spring, the first two were limited by a hand injury and concussion, respectively, while another incumbent Jeremiah Warren was out focusing on academics. With the top seven blockers from a year ago missing from the lineup, this off-season has produced unpleasing results. "There's nobody on the o-line that I think is good enough to play for us right now today, “Coach Leavitt said after one spring practice. Hermann will return to right guard where he started 15 straight games before the injury. Sims has been working at left tackle and that move may prove permanent as his former spot at center is now being manned by arguably the strongest player on the team in Sampson Genus. The steady progress of Genus gives coaches some form of consistency and chemistry. Outside of the above mentioned names, this group will need retooled with many of the guys that were playing scout team football a year ago. Expect several position switches across the front as the season progresses while coaches attempt to find a lineup they are happy with. Further injuries would put a huge damper on this situation. Incoming JUCO transfers Jamar Bass and Carlos Savala, and true freshman Steve Jacques will obviously compete for playing time right away.


WR Jessie Hester


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Matt Grothe-Sr (6-0, 205) B.J. Daniels-RFr (6-1, 212)
Evan Landi-RFr (6-3, 214)
RB Moise Plancher-Sr (5-9, 200) Richard Kelly-Jr (6-0, 249)
RB Mike Ford-Jr (6-2, 225) Jamar Taylor-Jr (5-9, 200)
WR A.J. Love-Jr (6-2, 202) Carlton Mitchell-Jr (6-4, 212)
Ed Alcin-Jr (6-2, 185)
WR Jessie Hester-Sr (6-0, 180) Patrick Richardson-So (6-0, 175)
WR Dontavia Bogan-Jr (6-1, 183) Theo Wilson-Sr (6-0, 207)
TE Ben Busbee-Sr (6-3, 242) Andrew Ketchel-Jr (6-5, 240)
OT Jacob Sims-Jr (6-5, 285) Damien Edwards-RFr (6-6, 320)
OG Chaz Hine-So (6-4, 292) Jatavious Jackson-RFr (6-4, 266)
C Sampson Genus-Jr (6-1, 314) Kevin McCaskill-So (6-2, 304)
OG Zach Hermann-Jr (6-3, 313) Jeremiah Warren-So (6-4, 320)
OT Mark Popek-RFr (6-7, 305) Mike McGowan-So (6-5, 285)
K Maikon Bonani-So (5-9, 174) Delbert Alvarado-Sr (6-0, 209)



The poster child for USF football is defensive end George Selvie, who passed up on the NFL to return for his senior season. Selvie will enter 2009 as the nation's active leader in career tackles for loss and sacks. He is the first two-time, First Team All-American in USF history and is a leading candidate for every post-season award offered to a man at his position. His explosive ability to get quickly up field has made him one of the most feared pass rushers across the country. His numbers last year took a huge dip from his sophomore season, which may explain his reasons for coming back. Maybe this had to do with the fact opposing teams are now leery, wherever Selvie lines up. For now Craig Marshall, a JUCO transfer that played in every game a year ago, is lining up on the other side. He has a ways to go before being an every-down player. A tremendous pass rusher, his development in the weight room while learning how to become a better-run stopper has to evolve. One experiment has been with Aaron Harris since the depth and competition at tackle has allowed Harris to see time on the outside. David Bedford showed in the spring game that he could be an integral part of the rotation. Watch out for two highly-touted incoming players form the prized 2008 recruiting class. JUCO All-American Jason Pierre-Paul and Ryne Giddins (the first Parade All-American to sign with USF after a heated recruiting battle with the Gators) are expected to push for starting duties. The Bulls were 10th in the country at stopping the run last fall due to solid inside play, and nobody is more knowledgeable about the defensive game than tackle Aaron Harris. He can play every inside position, which is remarkable considering he is not the heaviest. Big 306-pound Terrell McClain continues to be an emerging talent after earning time as a true freshman two years ago. He has been a beast this spring. Back ups Keith McCaskill has extremely long arms and pushes Selvie in terms of being the quickest off the ball and Cory Grissom adds more size in the rotation.

USF has produced some quality linebackers the past five seasons. Someone always emerges as an All-Conference player and such is a big reason why the Bulls are so efficient at stuffing opposing ball carriers. The top backer is senior Kion Wilson in the middle. He is the big hitter who started 11 games a year ago. Another player in the middle with a bright future is Michael Lanaris, one of the Top 100 Florida High School prospects of 2007. Replacing NFL-bound Tyrone McKenzie on the strong side will be the big key. The job currently resides with senior Chris Robinson, who has made quite an impression through the spring. He is capable of playing any of the LB spots but has yet to live up to the expectations shown earlier in his career. Watch out for newcomers Jaquian Williams and Sam Barrington who will push Robinson hard in August. Williams was an All-American at the JUCO level last fall. Many of the backup duties are between guys that have yet to take a college snap. The base defense for USF tends to be the nickel package when facing spread offenses. In this situation Robinson comes off the field, leaving Wilson and Sabbath Joseph as the starters. Joseph has yet to start a game and has primarily been used in a reserve role. The structure of this linebacking unit, while not necessarily considered a major concern with quality bodies available, is one of the chief rebuilding projects defensively.

Joe Tresey was hired as the new defensive coordinator (the same position he held at Cincinnati) just this March to replace Wally Burnham – the architect responsible for building this respected attack. Tresey also will be in charge of a fairly young secondary that has plenty of room to grow. On the plus side, he has two senior returning starters back in the fold to help out while the other vacated spots remain works-in-progress. Jerome Murphy is one of the team's fasted players and coaches love his play-making ability. He led the team in ’08 in tackles and interceptions, giving the Bulls a steady option at corner. The other is safety Nate Allen, a preseason Thorpe Award Candidate just last year at preseason time. The former prep quarterback is now one of the top safeties in the Big East. While Murphy has built a reputation as one of the team's top hitters, that title could now easily fall to strong safety newcomer Jerrell Young whose big hits this spring made quite an impression. The three-sport prep star is looking to demonstrate his speedy track skills while attempting to fill the big shoes of departed Carlton Williams. Coach Tresey excelled at creating turnovers while calling the shots for the Bearcats, and he is looking for more of the same at his new school where the Bulls finished a paltry 97th nationally in turnover margin. Two corners competing for a starting role opposite Murphy are Quenton Washington and Tyson Butler. The two sophomores are capable of making highlight reel plays but have much to learn when it comes to containing all of the elements at once. This will be a heated battle extending into the fall. With so many now using the spread, USF opened up in a nickel defense at least half the time in 2008. Ostensibly, this alignment isn’t likely to change even with the coaching switch. Redshirt freshman Jon Lejiste has been penciled as the starting nickel back for now.


CB Jerome Murphy


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Craig Marshall-Jr (6-5, 260) David Bedford-Jr (6-5, 260)
Jason Pierre-Paul-Jr (6-6, 265) (JUCO)
DT Aaron Harris-Sr (6-4, 270) Keith McCaskill-So (5-11, 263)
NT Terrell McClain-Jr (6-3, 306) Cory Grissom-RFr (6-2, 289)
DE George Selvie-Sr (6-4, 245) Patrick Hampton-So (6-3, 225)
SLB Chris Robinson-Sr (6-3, 245) Jaquian Williams-Jr (6-4, 225) (JUCO)
MLB Kion Wilson-Sr (6-2, 235) Michael Lanaris-RFr (6-0. 230)
WLB Sabbath Joseph-Jr (6-0, 230) Armando Sanchez-RFr (5-11, 215)
CB Quenton Washington-So (5-10, 183) Tyson Butler-So (5-11, 184)
CB Jerome Murphy-Sr (6-1, 185) George Baker-RFr (5-11, 170)
SS Jerrell Young-So (6-2, 194) Jon Lejiste-RFr (6-0, 185)
FS Nate Allen-Sr (6-2, 206) Joel Miller-So (6-0, 185)
P Delbert Alvarado-Sr (6-0, 209) ..




The true freshman Maikon Bonani took over some kicking duties after the first two games of last season as Delbert Alvarado struggled. The soccer player Bonani (from Sao Paulo, Brazil) was near perfect inside of 40 yards (12-of-13) but struggles from longer distances as expected from a rookie. Three of his missed attempts were blocked; getting some air under the ball will be in order. Bonani will also handle kickoff duties. Alvarado will continue as the prime punter. His average distance fell under 40 yards per punt last fall, an area that needs improvement, but he has been stellar at keeping the ball from going into the end zone. He set a school record for the fewest touchbacks (two) in a single season last fall. Dontavia Bogan not only is building his young resume as a dangerous receiver, he also continues to handle kick returns. Bogan was second in the Big East and 17th nationally in 2008 with a 26.6 average. His 770 return yards set a school record. While return duties are generally left open so multiple candidates get an opportunity, former JUCO transfer TheoWilson has the most experience trying to replace the departed Marcus Edwards handling punts.