Remember these names

By Greg Auman
Published December 26, 2007

TAMPA - Two years ago, it was quarterback Matt Grothe and defensive end George Selvie who showed promise during redshirt seasons. Last year, it was receivers Carlton Mitchell and Jessie Hester who were primed for breakout seasons.

As the Bulls prepare to face Oregon in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, we offer up five names you might not have heard of but probably will at this time next year. Not all five redshirted this season, but none saw significant playing time.

TERRELL McCLAIN, DT: They call him "Dancing Bear," and he showed promise while playing sparingly as a freshman. With seniors Richard Clebert and Allen Cray graduating, he's expected to be the starting nose tackle and will play plenty with limited depth in the interior.

QUENTON WASHINGTON, CB: Redshirted this fall, he could challenge for a starting job. Washington had 12 interceptions as a high school senior, returning four for touchdowns. Watch out for fellow freshmen Tyson Butler and Jerrell Young, who also have impressed coaches this fall.

SABBATH JOSEPH, LB: USF returns its outside linebackers for 2008, but Joseph as a sophomore will be the top backup to Tyrone McKenzie at strongside. He had 14 tackles as a redshirt freshman and showed promise during the December workouts.

KION WILSON, LB: Two of this year's biggest newcomers, McKenzie and running back Mike Ford, came in January, and Wilson comes next month after two strong years at Pearl River Miss. Community College. He'll compete for the middle linebacker job, and watch out for his roommate at Pearl River, defensive end Craig Marshall, who will come this summer.

PATRICK RICHARDSON, WR: Comparable to freshman Dontavia Bogan, who impressed in his debut this fall, Richardson needs only to add size to his 6-foot, 163-pound frame. He has the hands, speed and leaping ability to be a playmaker in a deep corps. Don't forget Colby Erskin, who missed 2007 with a knee injury but could be a major factor, including on returns.

LITTLE BETTER: The announced attendance figures for home men's basketball games in Stan Heath's first season are up about 20 percent from the first five of last season, though the real test will be how well fans show up for Big East games, which start next week with Rutgers.

Through five games, USF is averaging 3,530 fans, up from 2,991 last season. The smallest crowd so far (2,955 for Saturdayagainst St. Francis) is still larger than six of the seven nonconference games played at the Sun Dome last season.

The Bulls had three Big East home games draw more than 5,000 fans last season: Notre Dame (7,705), Syracuse (6,292) and DePaul (5,207). A good measure of the support for Heath's team will be how many of the eight Big East home games draw 5,000 fans now, when the Bulls are in position to compete for a spot in the league's postseason tournament.

THIS AND THAT:Jose Fernandez's women's basketball team, off to a 9-2 start, also has seen a bump in attendance. The average for seven games is 863 fans, which is more than any nonconference game last season. The home average ranks ninth among 16 Big East teams. ... Could having the Big East baseball tournament in Clearwater be enough of an edge to get Lelo Prado's team a league championship? USF was ranked 44th in Collegiate Baseball's preseason poll. Only Prado's previous school, Louisville, was ranked higher (23rd) among Big East teams. The Bulls get to play the Cardinals and Notre Dame (ranked 45th) at home during the regular season.

Greg Auman can be reached at auman@sptimes.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog from El Paso, Texas, this week at blogs.tampa bay.com/usf.