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Linebacker gets to show off his abilities for NFL scouts

The senior linebacker has worked hard to improve his draft chances.

By GREG AUMAN
Published March 8, 2007


TAMPA - Stephen Nicholas has established his strength. Friday, he hopes to show his speed as well.

The ex-linebacker will work out with his fellow seniors at USF's soccer stadium, trying to improve his stock for next month's draft.

At last week's combine, Nicholas turned heads by bench-pressing 225 pounds 29 times, the third-best effort among linebackers. His reps were five more than his best at USF, an indication of the work he has put in over the past two months.

"I was kind of nervous. There's 50 guys on one side of the room, 50 more on the other side," said Nicholas, honored as USF's defensive MVP at the annual banquet Saturday.

Nicholas didn't run at the combine but will do so Friday, confident in the gains he has made by working with agility specialists alongside the likes of Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson and Florida defensive end Jarvis Moss. He likely will be the first USF player drafted since safety J.R. Reed in 2004.

"It's hard to know because nobody's going to show their cards right now," said Nicholas, who graduated in December with a degree in communications.

Heading north

One of USF's most tenured staffers is leaving. Mike Lewis, who has spent 27 years with the Bulls, most recently as executive director of the Bulls Club, has his last day March 15. Lewis' wife, Lisa, who spent seven years as president of USF's alumni association, has taken a job as executive director of Connecticut's alumni association.

Heading to the Dance

Two wins against Seton Hall last week all but wrapped up a return trip to the NCAA Tournament for the women's basketball team. ESPN.com and CollegeRPI.com have the Bulls as a No. 10 seed facing Iowa State with potential second-round meetings with Maryland and Stanford.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman @sptimes.com.