The Football News All Independent Team has a distinct USF flavor. Six Bulls snared first-team All Independent. On the 24-man team, only Notre Dame placed more players on the team. Nine Fighting Irish players were recognized.
Lining up under center is USF’s own Marquel Blackwell. Rewriting the USF record books at every turn, Blackwell already owns the all-time lead in attempts, completions, passing yards and total offense in his three seasons at the helm of the USF offense. In Blackwell’s 31 starts at quarterback, the Bulls have gone 21-10 as they progressed from Division I-AA contender to Division I newcomer. In perhaps the most memorable game in USF’s first history, Blackwell completed 37-of-65 passes for 343 yards and four touchdowns as USF upended Pittsburgh 35-26 Sept. 8. Bulls’ fans can follow Blackwell’s senior season on his Web site, .
Joining Blackwell on the offensive side of the ball is his key protector, Derrick Sarosi. As a redshirt freshman, Sarosi won the job at right tackle. This season, Sarosi figures to be switched to left tackle to safeguard Blackwell’s blindside. Last season, Blackwell was sacked 10 times, while attempting 456 passes.
USF’s bookends senior Chris Daley and junior Shurron Pierson highlight four Bulls on the All Independent defense. The duo combined for 19.5 sacks last season as first Daley set a sack record, and then Pierson topped him by finishing the year with 10 sacks.
With Pierson and Daley handling the pass rush, senior middle linebacker Kawika Mitchell tallied 106 tackles in 2001 to earn his spot on the All Independent Team. The first Bull to ever register more than 100 stops, Mitchell has been the heart of USF’s defense since he transferred to Tampa from Georgia in 1999.
Rounding out the USF contingent is Tampa product J.R. Reed. A junior safety from Hillsborough High School, Reed made a cannonball-sized splash in 2001 when he intercepted five passes and recovered three fumbles. He also finished third on the team with 89 tackles a year ago.
29 Bulls take Medals
The Commissioner’s Academic Medals are presented to the top student-athletes around the conference, and USF had 29 honorees for the 2001-02 school year. The conference rewarded 280 athletes among its 14 schools for excellence in the classroom. The Commissioner’s Medals are bestowed upon any athlete with a grade point average of 3.75 or higher.
The 2001-02 total of 29 falls one shy of last year’s pace. This year’s recipients are:
Jason Bartz, Ryan Gloger, Brian Hierlmeier, Scott Rachlin, Michael Yeager, Alfred Ogden, Doug Brown, Christa Benton, Caroline Lyon, Stephanie Peterson, Tiffany Quinn, Justin Geisler, Ryan Shears, Claudia Ramirez-Lagos, Chris Raye, Karina Daun, Lyndrea Sutherland, Rachel Rosenbaum, Nadim Naser, Martin Wetzel, Ashlee Callahan, Claudia Nieto, Stefanie Boyer, Nancy Edwards, Karoline Hagen, Kristina West, Alessandra Domingos, Shameka Mitchell and Faith Tarver.