Top lineman 'homesick,' leaves team; another hurt

Published March 29, 2006

TAMPA - Defensive tackle Frank Harry, one of the most highly touted USF recruits, has left the team after only a week of practice.

Harry, who enrolled in January after two years at Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, left after Thursday's practice, and coach Jim Leavitt said it was because the junior was "homesick."

"I have no idea," Leavitt said when asked when or if Harry might return. "If he wants to play here, it'd be great to have him."

But Harry's coach at Varnado High in Angie, La., said Tuesday night that Harry won't be playing for the Bulls and will transfer closer to home.

"He's leaving," coach Paul Meyerchick said. "He said things weren't clicking down there. He'll stay in school the rest of the semester, but he said it was just too far from home. That means a lot to country boys like Frank, but it's a shame things didn't work out."

Harry, rated as a four-star prospect by Scout.com, is the second loss on the defensive line in the past week, following reserve Eric Thomas, who opted to become a student assistant after battling a lingering knee injury.

Leavitt also said senior Thed Watson, expected to be the starting left tackle, suffered a hairline fracture to his hand during drills Monday. Leavitt didn't know whether Watson would return during spring practice but said he knows what Watson can do. Redshirt freshman Danny Tolley of Wesley Chapel lined up in his spot Tuesday.

TO BE CONTINUED: The battle between sophomore Ricky Ponton and redshirt freshman Moise Plancher for the starting running back job likely will have to wait for the fall, with Plancher sidelined by a hamstring injury.

"He's got a pretty good hamstring pull, so I don't know how much he'll be in this spring," Leavitt said. "I know what Mo can do. We know what Ponton can do. We're really trying to look at (walk-ons) Ben Williams and Walt Smith. (Smith) is running the 4.4s, he's got good speed, good vision. We want a top three before we leave spring."

OFF AND RUNNING: After a 9-10 start in nonconference play, Eddie Cardieri's baseball team is off to a 5-1 start in the Big East, including a three-game sweep of Seton Hall over the weekend. USF (14-11) has won five straight, by a combined seven runs no less, going into today's game at Florida, whichwas ranked No. 2 in the preseason but has dropped four straight.

And from the Unbelieva-Bull Dept.: USF's Joey Angelberger has had game-winning, extra-inning hits against two different teams whose mascot is the Catamount this season. Frightening kudos to any fan who can name the two opponents without consulting USF's schedule.

TRACK TIME: The 10-year-old school record of 41.1 seconds in the men's 4x100 relay could fall Saturday, with three two-sport stars leading the Bulls' entry. Cornerback Ryan Gilliam and walk-on running back Anthony Gaines, two of the fastest members of the football team, and freshman Jordan Seabrook, the top scorer on the soccer team, will run with Jesuit graduate Taiwo Egunin the second home outdoor meet of the season.

MEET AND GREET: USF's annual Around the Horns summer tour kicks off June 5 at Tampa Palms Golf and Country Club, wrapping up with its Pinellas stop at Belleair Country Club on June 29. Athletic director Doug Woolard, Leavitt and both basketball coaches will be among the contingent.

The seven-stop schedule includes a first-ever out-of-state date, in Atlanta on June 12. USF president Judy Genshaft will attend the Georgia event, which reaches a major center for alumni with more than 3,500 USF graduates within a 50-mile radius. Leavitt has identified Atlanta as a new target for expanding USF's recruiting territory.

THIS AND THAT: Credit superior pitching for the recent surge of the softball team, which has won nine of 12. Led by sophomore Bree Spence and freshman Cristi Ecks, the Bulls held opponents to one run in a span of 40 innings last week. USF opens its Big East season this weekend with a doubleheader Friday at home against Seton Hall and another Sunday against St. John's.

Greg Auman covers USF athletics. He can be reached at auman@sptimes.com Check out his "USF Bulletin" blog online at www.sptimes.com/blogs/usf