As the Bulls prepare for their first full season in Division I-A, there are sure to be many surprises in store. And although USF has some well-established names in place that figure to receive a good deal of the spotlight, the Bulls also have some talent on the verge of having breakout seasons. Everyone knows who Marquel Blackwell is, but what about the name Clenton Crossley? He might not be a household name just yet, but look for Crossley and the rest of the players on this list to do some big things for the Bulls in 2001.
Of all the players you might not be familiar with, Crossley will more than likely have the most impact. Crossley was a three-time all-state player at South Sumter High School, where he was a PrepStar Top 50 recruit as a senior. Although coach Jim Leavitt has maintained Derrick Rackard is the starting tailback, expect Crossley to be the go-to guy sooner than later. He is strong (335-pound bench press), fast (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and has an effortless running style. Crossley has been impressive in preseason workouts, turning heads with his shifty running style and ability to hit the hole quickly. Look for a big season from Crossley.
Although Whittaker is not the featured receiver, he will see considerable time in the Bulls? multiple-receiver sets. He spent his freshman season at Hudson Valley Community College and then was redshirted last year. Whittaker was impressive during spring and summer workouts and at 6 feet 5 inches, 225 pounds, he provides a huge target for Blackwell. Look for Whittaker to physically dominate smaller defensive backs and use his size around the end zone.
Typically, the only time fans take note of offensive linemen is when they are guilty of a penalty or have allowed their man to beat them for a sack. But with three of the five starters from last year gone, Snellgrove will attempt to step in at left tackle for NFL draft choice Kenyatta Jones. At a hulking 6 feet 6 inches, 290 pounds, Snellgrove has the strength and footwork (he is a converted tight end) needed and will be counted on to protect Blackwell?s blind side. His ability to keep defensive ends off Blackwell?s back will be crucial in the Bulls? pass-oriented offense.
With only one career sack while serving as an apprentice behind Shawn Hay and Steve Hatley, Daley is poised to shine in 2001. The 6-foot-2, 255-pound defensive end has tremendous speed around the outside and will team with Emerson Morris to form an excellent pair of bookends on the Bulls? line. Coaches love Daley?s pass-rushing ability and expect big contributions this season.
When people talk about USF linebackers, Kawika Mitchell is usually the first name out of fans? mouths. And while Mitchell, who is on the Butkus Award watch list, deserves every bit of recognition he receives, Jones will turn heads this year for the Bulls. Jones assumes the strong side linebacker position and, along with Mitchell and Anthony Williams, forms the Bulls most solid unit. Jones, the fastest of the USF linebackers, has prototypical linebacker size and strength and is an exceptional pass rusher off the corner. Jones will have a big season and might be the next Bull linebacker to find his way onto the Butkus watch list in 2002.Kenny Robinson
As one of two true freshmen (J.R. Reed was the other) to see action in the Bulls? secondary in 2000, Robinson gained valuable experience in his rookie campaign. Robinson was slowed early in the preseason with ankle injuries and was held out of numerous practices, but began to see more work as practices wore on. He is listed as second team on the depth chart behind Maurice Tucker, but Robinson will see plenty of action as the season wears on. He excels in coverage and breaks on the ball better than anyone in the secondary. Robinson had a 64-yard interception return for a TD last season against Austin Peay, a USF record, has big-play capability and will be a key contributor in the Bulls? defensive backfield.
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