Senior linebacker Kion Wilson can be considered one of the best players college football has to offer.
In January, Wilson will play in the East-West Shrine Game, which is an annual postseason all-star contest played each January since 1925.
“It’s a big deal,” said defensive coordinator Joe Tresey. “Kion has been given a chance to go and showcase himself and a bigger chance to play at a professional level.”
Wilson is the fifth USF football player that will play in the game, which benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children, an international pediatric health care system.
The game will have many general managers, coaches and scouts from all 32 NFL teams.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to even be recognized,” Wilson said. “It feels good to be chosen, and I look forward to displaying my skills in front of NFL scouts.”
In 2008, 43 of the 100 players were drafted in the NFL Draft and 95 ended up on NFL rosters.
For Wilson, playing in this game was not even on his mind when he began at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi prior to the 2008 season.
“I wasn’t expecting to be chosen for the game at all,” Wilson said. “The only goal that I set for myself since coming to USF was to play hard every time I hit the field.”
Wilson has stayed steady this season for USF, coming off an impressive performance against Rutgers with 18 tackles. He has 79 on the year – 19 more than the second leading tackler at USF. He also has 6.5 tackles for loss.
“Kion is concerned with only one thing right now, and that is the USF Bulls,” Tresey said.
“When the ball snaps, he is 100 percent there, and that is why he has been successful.”
Leavitt pained by RB Taylor’s injury
After making a surprise return to the field for USF’s game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 24, junior running back Jamar Taylor’s role has been limited during the last two games because of a lingering knee injury.
And that ails USF coach Jim Leavitt, who said Taylor’s attitude has stayed positive through the entire process.
“His knee’s been sore. He’s been struggling,” Leavitt said. “We couldn’t rep him through practice much. Now, we would play him on special teams and you wonder, ‘how do you play on special teams if his knee’s sore?’ Well, that’s a touchy thing. He’s an incredible kid and my heart is broken for the guy.”
Taylor was sidelined before the season after suffering the injury during a preseason scrimmage. He returned and carried the ball five times for 28 yards in a 41-14 loss to Pittsburgh. His role has declined since then. Taylor had three carries for two yards against West Virginia and no carries in a loss to Rutgers on Thursday.
“I don’t think we beat West Virginia without him,” Leavitt said. “He had a key role in that game. We’ve got more football left. We’ll see how it all works out.”
Leavitt speaks about NFL’s Belichick
If Leavitt thought he was gambling on fourth downs against West Virginia a couple weeks ago, he should get a few tips on taking chances from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Up by six on the Indianapolis Colts Sunday night, Belichick went for it on fourth and two from his own 28 with 2:08 remaining – with the mindset that a first down would seal the game. The Colts held and eventually got the win.
“Good for him,” Leavitt said with a laugh when asked Tuesday about the play.
The Bulls converted two of three risky fourth down attempts against the Mountaineers, near the 50 and their own 40.
“We could’ve lost that game and people would’ve beaten me up,” Leavitt said. “That’d been ‘you kidding me?’ But we got those fourth downs and won the game so nobody talks about it.”
Three key football players are either out or doubtful for Saturday’s game against Louisville, Leavitt said.
Defensive end Craig Marshall won’t play with an injured knee, senior end Aaron Harris did not practice Monday or Tuesday and is wearing an ankle boot, and junior wide receiver Carlton Mitchell is day-to-day with an ankle injury, Leavitt said.
Men’s soccer draws Stetson in NCAA tournament
The USF men’s soccer team will host Stetson in the first-round of the NCAA tournament on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the USF Soccer Stadium.
If the Bulls (13-3-3) win, they’ll travel to face top-seeded Akron in the second round.
USF is 23-4-1 all-time versus Stetson.
Former USF standout Gransberry signs with NBA Development League
Kentrell Gransberry, a star center who played for the Bulls from 2006-08, signed with the NBA Development League’s Springfield Armor, USF announced Tuesday.
Gransberry will be entering his second season in the league, playing for the Colorado 14ers last year, averaging 5.2 points and 4.6 rebounds.
Gransberry was a two-time All-Big East performer with USF and averaged 15.8 points and a school-record 11.1 rebounds for his career.