Freshman receiver ‘clearly a starter’

Freshman receiver Sterling Griffin has impressed so much in practice that USF coach Jim Leavitt said he is “one of the best freshman receivers we’ve had come in here.”

“He hasn’t played a game yet. You always want to be careful,” Leavitt said. “You have to do it in games but so far he’s done really well. It’s hard to come in here and do what he’s done as a freshman.”

Griffin, from Opa Locka, was rated the 70th best wide receiver prospect by ESPN in high school. Griffin chose USF over Pittsburgh, Mississippi, Purdue and Kansas State. Leavitt said his young receiver’s work ethic has stood out the most.

“It’s his mentality, his focus- he works hard,” he said. “He’s clearly a starter at receiver.”

Another freshman, cornerback Kayvon Webster, has also been impressive for the majority of camp, Leavitt said.

Webster, from the same high school as Griffin, would be USF’s starter at nickel, Leavitt said.

End remains a battle

Senior George Selvie is penciled in as a starter at one defensive end position, but the spot opposite of him remains open competition – one that might just come down to the last day of practice before USF’s opener against Wofford Saturday.

“It’s really close,” Leavitt said. “(Junior) (David) Bedford is having a good camp. (Sophomore) (Craig) Marshall has done some good things. You got (sophomore) (Patrick) Hampton … It’s hard.”

Leavitt listed Bedford, Marshall, Hampton, Aaron Harris and freshmen Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte, who both were cleared by the NCAA last week for academics, as having impressed in camp.

Harris started 12 games last year as a junior, but Leavitt said he is “not necessarily” a starter because of experience.

Junior college transfer Jason Pierre-Paul has made strides in practice as well, Leavitt said. Pierre-Paul, ranked as the sixth-best junior college prospect last year by, was cleared to play a couple weeks ago after missing the first two weeks of practice while finishing classwork. He has a redshirt available.

“He’s really coming on. He’s getting real hungry,” Leavitt said after Friday’s practice. “We may need everybody this year. I’m not thinking about redshirts this year.”

Men’s soccer beats Stetson in last exhibition

In its third and final exhibition match, the USF men’s soccer team defeated Stetson 3-0 Thursday night at the USF soccer stadium.

The Bulls entered the contest having split their first two preseason matches against Tampa and Akron.

In the 13th minute, senior midfielder Jorge Mora received a pass from freshman Hasani Sinclair and scored to give USF a 1-0 advantage.

USF didn’t waste any time adding to its advantage after halftime, as junior Fernando Gonzalez made it 2-0 with a header delivered from Javed Mohammed’s corner kick just five minutes into the second half. Five minutes later, Sinclair scored to put the game away.

With a 3-0 lead, coach George Kiefer pulled most of his starters to get a look at his substitutes one last time before the regular season.

“I was happy with the way we played,” Kiefer said. “It was a pretty slow game from both sides, but I was glad to see good things from a number of different players.”

The Bulls kick off the regular season at home against the UCF Knights Tuesday.

-Joel Leventhal