Senior free safety J.R. Reed’s unprecedented season earned him another accolade Wednesday when he became the first USF player named as a first team all-Conference USA selection.
Four other USF players were named to the all-conference team. Senior middle linebacker Maurice Jones was named to the second team while junior tackle Derrick Sarosi, senior strong safety Kevin Verpaele and senior defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon Jr. were selected to the third team. In addition, linebacker Stephen Nicholas was chosen for the C-USA all-freshman team.
Reed became the first Bull to earn C-USA Player of the Week for his performance on Oct. 31 in the Bulls’ 24-17 win against Cincinnati. Reed set a school record with 19 tackles and had his school record-setting 14th career interception against the Bearcats.
Reed earned the award for a second time last week for his showing in the team’s season-ending 21-16 win at Memphis. Against the Tigers, Reed intercepted three passes, returned a fumble 45 yards for a touchdown and opened the second half by returning a kickoff 96 yards for a score. This performance prompted SportsIllustrated.com and Collegefootballnews.com to name Reed national player of the week.
Reed finished his college career with 18 interceptions, the best in USF history. He also broke his own school record with seven interceptions this season, the most in C-USA. He was second on the team in tackles, posting 100 for the first time in his career. His 31.7 yards per kick return tied for best in the nation and also earned Reed second team all-C-USA honors on special teams.
Jones led the team with 116 tackles, one shy of the school record and eighth in C-USA. He also tied for the team lead with two fumbles recovered and made 14 tackles for loss on the year.
Sarosi has not missed a start in his three years at USF, with 33 consecutive starts to his credit.
Verpaele led the team with three forced fumbles on the year, tied for fourth in the conference, and was fourth on the team with 88 tackles. He picked off one pass and was third on the team with five passes deflected.
Selmon returned after sitting out the last two seasons, redshirting in 2001 and missing 2002 with a torn ACL. Selmon finished the season with 58 tackles, and his 3.5 sacks tied for third on the team. He secured a victory for the Bulls in their homecoming game against Cincinnati with his only interception of the season in double overtime. Selmon plans to return next year as a sixth-year senior if the NCAA grants him a medical redshirt for last season.
Nicholas, the only freshman starter on the Bulls defense, was inserted into the starting lineup after depth issues hampered USF in its season opener at Alabama. He responded with 46 tackles, including 11 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. His sack total was second on the team and second among freshmen in the nation.
C-USA champion Southern Miss led the way with 15 players named to the all-conference teams, including a league-high eight first-team selections. Only UAB and Army, with three selections and two selections, respectively, placed fewer players on the teams than USF.