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USF football turning heads during off-season

The Bulls football team is ranked – almost. The Sporting News has USF ranked at No. 21 on their preseason Top 25 rankings. If these rankings carry on into the season, it will be the first time the football team has been ranked since its entry into Division I-A. The Bulls pulled off their most successful season in their 11 years with a 9-4 record in 2006. Their first bowl berth was in 2005 in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but they earned the school’s first bowl win in the PapaJohns.com Bowl last year over East Carolina. The team is led by its 2006 Offensive MVP Matt Grothe and a defense that was ranked 17th in the nation one year ago. The Bulls’ balanced attack hopes to take them somewhere they have never been – atop the Big East standings.

– Daniel Falco

QB MATT GROTHE NAMED TO PRE-SEASON HEISMAN TROPHY WATCH LIST

The idea of the Heisman Trophy coming to USF is not just a pipe dream anymore. USF’s offensive savior and star quarterback Math Grothe is ranked 25th on Nationalchamps.net’s Heisman Watch List. Grothe led the Bulls to a 9-4 record and the school’s first bowl win on his way to earning Big East Rookie of the Year. The Sporting News also named him 2006 Freshman of the Year. He led the team in both rushing and passing yards. Grothe broke four USF freshman quarterback records, including passing yards (2,576), rushing yards (622), total yards (3198) and rushing touchdowns for a quarterback (9). He also broke an overall USF record with a 63.7 completion percentage.

– Daniel Falco

MEL KIPER NAMES CB MIKE JENKINS No. 5 CORNERBACK IN THE NATION

USF cornerback Mike Jenkins has ranked fifth place in draft guru Mel Kiper’s list of top cornerbacks for the upcoming football season. Jenkins was plagued with an ankle injury during his freshman season but has been impressive ever since. Last season, Jenkins was named to the All-Big East second team, making one interception and leading the team in passes broken up with 15. This 2007 All-American prospect is teaming up with Trae Williams, who led the conference with seven interceptions. The duo is expected to become one of the best cornerback tandems in the country next year.

– Daniel Falco

LB BEN MOFFITT NAMED TO PRE-SEASON NAGURSKI TROPHY WATCH LIST

Ben Moffitt, the unquestioned leader of the Bulls’ defense, was placed on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List, given to the nation’s top defensive player. Moffitt, the hard-nosed middle linebacker, led the team in 2006 with 112 tackles and recovered two fumbles. In 2005, Moffitt was named the Nagurski Defensive Player of the Week for his performance during the Bulls’ 45-14 win over then-ranked No. 9 Louisville. He was given Conference USA All-Freshman honors in 2004. Moffitt earned his starting job during the last five games of his redshirt season and has started ever since. He is returning for his senior season to improve on a defense that ranked 17th in the nation last year.-Daniel Falco