tampabay.com

There's a little Duck in Bull

Senior cornerback Ryan Gilliam will have friends on both sidelines when he plays his final college game in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 against Oregon, the school he attended for two years before transferring to USF in 2005.

By GREG AUMAN
Published December 12, 2007


TAMPA - Senior cornerback Ryan Gilliam will have friends on both sidelines when he plays his final college game in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31 against Oregon, the school he attended for two years before transferring to USF in 2005.

"I have the utmost respect for coach Mike Bellotti and his program," said Gilliam, who had 13 tackles as a redshirt freshman in 2004, starting his final game against rival Oregon State.

Gilliam's roommates in 2004 included quarterback Dennis Dixon, the Pac-10 offensive player of the year who will miss the bowl with a knee injury, and linebacker A.J. Tuitele, the Ducks' other senior captain.

"We all came in the same class, were the so-called big recruits in the class," Gilliam said. "We still talk. Earlier in the year, when we were No.2, they were talking about how fun it would be to play in the national championship against each other."

Gilliam said his transfer had little to do with football and more with getting closer to his family in Tallahassee.

"I was really immature. I wasn't as mature as I thought I was," Gilliam said. "It really wasn't about football. ... My grades weren't very good, some family issues. I hadn't seen my mom in two years. I was about 18, 19, kind of big-headed."

Gilliam, also a standout sprinter in track, has been a top backup at cornerback his two years at USF, totaling 26 tackles with the Bulls and getting two fumble recoveries this season.

He said even if he had bad things to say about his old school, he remembers the Ducks well enough to know better.

"I'm not going to do anything to give Coach Bellotti any bulletin board material," he said. "Before every game, he does that with the team. He'll run through every word, and I'm not giving him anything."

FLYING HIGH: After Saturday's win against UAB, men's basketball coach Stan Heath specifically thanked USF's administration for flying his team back to Tampa by charter after its win at Richmond four days earlier.

Getting back early helped lessen the quick turnaround between games, and though the Bulls won't fly charter on every road game, Heath and athletic director Doug Woolard identified three other road games where a charter flight was a smart upgrade from a commercial flight.

"The difference between getting back at 1 a.m. vs. the next day at noon isn't just 12 hours of rest and recovery. It can mean a full academic day and a great benefit from that standpoint," Heath said.

USF will fly charter in February to games at Georgetown and Cincinnati, then in March for a game at Villanova that is three days before the home finale against Notre Dame.

SWITCHING OVER: Freshman running back Tyson Butler, who rushed for 439 yards in a game as a high school senior, has switched to cornerback, where coaches think his speed and size (5-11, 170) can get him on the field faster.

"It doesn't mean it's permanent," coach Jim Leavitt said. "I know he can play for us at running back. We just want to see what he can do at corner."

Another redshirting freshman, Gibbs grad Jerrell Young, has shifted from cornerback to safety and could battle senior Danny Verpaele for the nickel back job in 2008.

THIS AND THAT: USF has lost an oral commitment as defensive end Anthony Mains of Naples is now committed to Wisconsin. The Bulls lost out on junior college star Markus White, who committed to FSU, but are in the mix for several high-level defensive ends. ... Volleyball assistant coach Erik Peterson is leaving after four seasons but intends to stay in coaching.