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Site kicks off senior season for Bulls QB

By GREG AUMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 21, 2002

It probably won't stick, but South Florida quarterback Marquel Blackwell was given a new nickname by teammates in the Bulls' weight room this week: Dot-com.

"It comes with the territory," said the senior whose Heisman Trophy campaign arrived with the launching of marquelblackwell.com, the official site for the school's all-time leading passer.

The campaign is an ambitious leap for a player who did not receive a Heisman vote last year despite throwing for 20 touchdowns and rushing for nine more in leading USF to an 8-3 record.

"When they first told me, I was in awe, really," said Blackwell, who got a sneak preview of his site before it was launched this week. "Not many people are able to do this. It's awesome."

The site has nearly all the elements a Heisman front-runner's would boast, and seeks to help in the one area Blackwell is lacking: exposure. Visitors can view his game-by-game statistics, a photo gallery and testimonials from opposing coaches and players.

Blackwell's mother provided a home movie from his days at St. Petersburg's Dixie Hollins High that soon will be on the site, as will highlight footage from his first three seasons at USF. An Ask Marquel page invites fans to send questions and promises he will find time to respond.

The site is produced gratis by Tampa's TW Creative Communications as an in-kind donation from the company's owner, Skip Glass, a USF alumnus and booster. The company signed a similar contract to produce USF's main athletics site and is in discussions to produce a site for baseball's minor-league Tampa Yankees.

NO OFFSEASON HERE: Tampabaylightning.com unveiled the Weekly Charge, an interactive audio broadcast available exclusively online. The panel taking questions by phone calls and e-mail: Hall of Famer Phil Esposito and Lightning broadcasters John Ahlers, Bobby "The Chief" Taylor, Rick Peckham and broadcasting director Jason Dixon, who has done a similar show online with the Arena Football League Storm.

Looking for an NHL mock draft? Sportingnews.com has the Lightning taking Finnish defenseman Joni Pitkanen in the first round and Canadian sports site TSN.ca has Kamloops right wing Scottie Upshall going to Tampa Bay with the fourth overall pick.

ESPN WINS BIG: ESPN.com swept the sports honors at last week's Webby Awards, earning the Webby and the People's Voice. It's the third time in six years ESPN has taken the panel's honor, and the fifth time it has pulled in the popular vote. Webby acceptance speeches are capped at five words, and ESPN offered: "To all our users, thanks!" Other brief but well-chosen offerings: Guggenheim.org ("Through art, we see everything") and Kids category winner ology.amnh.org ("Kids wanna know what's what").

TID-BYTES: The official World Cup site (fifaworldcup.yahoo.com) passed 1-billion page views in a two-week span, more than three times the total hits in February by the official Salt Lake City Olympics site. ... ESPN.com is looking ahead to college football recruiting, with analyst Tom Lemming taking a national tour that stopped in Tampa. Lemming, who has relatives in Plant City, said Jefferson receiver Andre Caldwell should be the area's most coveted recruit: "He may be the best player in the state, one of them for sure. There are a lot of real good players in the bay area this year, more so than in any of the last few years."

-- If you have a question or comment about the Internet or a site to suggest, e-mail staff writer Greg Auman at auman@sptimes.com.

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