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LB Marc hopes for future in NFL


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 5, 2000

TAMPA -- Like teammate Jay Mize, it looks as if linebacker Vassay Marc's Bulls career is over because of a herniated disc in his neck.

But unlike Mize, who risks losing feeling in his left arm permanently if he plays again, Marc has some hope of continuing his career. Marc, who said he has no symptoms and feels fine, was evaluated last week. He said his doctor said his neck looked better but was going to send his MRI results to a specialist in California for evaluation.

Marc, who was named to the preseason "watch list" for the Butkus Award given to the nation's best linebacker, had 33 tackles in five games (five for a loss) and three forced fumbles. Coach Jim Leavitt said the 6-2, 230-pound senior was developing into an NFL prospect.

Marc likely won't play in USF's final two games, but said he might have surgery to repair the disc if it could help him get into the NFL.

"If they say surgery can help me in the future, yes, sure I'll consider surgery," he said.

Meanwhile, Marc watches from the sideline at games and attends practices, as he has since the injury Sept. 30 against Troy State. His attitude remains upbeat.

"It hurts," Marc said, but considering the seriousness of the injury, "it's for the better in the long run."

HISTORY LESSON: USF honored its 43 First Team members -- those who contributed $50,000 or more to the $5-million endowment the school needed to start football in 1997 -- with a permanent bronze plaque unveiled shortly before kickoff.

The 300-pound, $4,000 plaque, embedded in a wall in the club area on the west side of Raymond James Stadium, came later than the Bulls had hoped. It took athletic director Paul Griffin nearly two years to get the Bucs to agree on a permanent home for the plaque.

The interest from those early donations goes toward funding scholarships and other football expenses, while the principal remains untouched. "We want to be sure we don't lose sight of the folks that stepped up to the plate in '92 and '93, when (football) was just a vision," Griffin said.

INJURY REPORT: Defensive end Shawn Hay aggravated his sprained left ankle in the final minute and limped off the field. With linebacker Anthony Williams nursing a sprained ankle, senior Marshall Smith started in his place.

DROUGHT OVER: Kicker Bill Gramatica entered the game tied for 10th in Division I-AA with 1.38 field goals per game -- despite not having kicked one since the Sept. 30 victory over Troy State. Gramatica, who missed a 38-yarder into the wind at Connecticut, got on the board against Western Kentucky with a 29-yarder in the second quarter. He had two more field goals, from 40 and 27 yards.

IT'S BEEN REAL: This is expected to be the last meeting with Western Kentucky, the only team that has been on the Bulls' schedule since the 1997 inaugural season. Once USF enters Conference USA in 2003, league rules forbid it from scheduling I-AA teams.

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