2009 College Football Preview:No.25 South Florida

Rick GillispieCorrespondent IIAugust 1, 2009

RALEIGH, NC - SEPTEMBER 27:  Players from the South Florida Bulls hold their helmets into the air at the start of the college football game against North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium on September 27, 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina. South Florida won the game 41-10. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

In Rivals Preseason ranking of the top 120 teams in the country, they have picked the South Florida Bulls as No.25. Jim Leavitt enters his 13th season as the head coach of the Bulls. USF had a disappointing season last year, going 8-5 (2-5 in Big East play). The Bulls return only three starters on offense and six on defense.

The Bulls offensive scheme is the spread attack. The new offensive coordinator's main goal is to establish a more consistent rushing attack.

QB Matt Grothe is one of eight returning quarterbacks who led his team in both rushing and passing last season. He has 8,157 career passing yards and 2,085 rushing yards. While he has thrown 47 TD passes, he also has 42 interceptions.

Defensive End George Selvie's speed off the edge makes opponents account for him on every play, frequently with two blockers. Selvie, who was a high school center, has 25.5 sacks and 61.5 tackles for loss in his career.

The opening three games are a breeze. Two Football Championship Subdivision opponents, plus Western Kentucky, which is in its first full season in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

That should enable all the bugs to be worked out before Game Four. A trip to play Florida State for the first time.

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A win over FSU and USF can start dreaming big again. There are home games in conference play against Cincinnati and West Virginia, but the Bulls must travel to face Rutgers and Pitt. There's also a home game against Miami (FL).

This schedule isn't overly tough. In other words, the schedule shouldn't keep USF from winning the Big East.

Other returning starters for the Bulls are:WR A.J. Love (6'-2", 210, Jr.), C Jacob Sims (6'-5", 285, Jr.), K Maikon Bonani (5'-9", 174, Soph.), E Aaron Harris (6'-4", 260, Sr.), T Terrell McClain (6'-3", 306, Jr.), LB Kion Wilson (6'-2", 235, Sr.), CB Jerome Murphy (6'-1", 190, Sr.), FS  Nate Allen (6'-2", 205, Sr.), P Delbert Alvarado (6'-0", 209, Sr.).

In Other News:

South Florida kicker Maikon Bonani has been hospitalized after falling 35 feet from the Skyride at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla.

"Our entire program is praying for Maikon and happy that the injury was not life-threatening," coach Jim Leavitt said in a statement. "I was able to visit him. He's in pain, but doing fine and resting."

Leavitt told the newspaper that if Bonani faced a long recovery, the kicker could redshirt this season.

The 20-year-old sophomore won the Bulls' starting kicking job after two games last season. He finished 15-for-21 on field goals.

USF has added two walk-ons to its fall roster, with kicker Eric Schwartz rejoining the Bulls after practicing this spring and return specialist Faron Hornes joining the team from Butler Community College in Kansas.

Schwartz, a junior from Hudson who kicked in USF's spring game, will give the Bulls another strong leg in the absence of sophomore Maikon Bonani, who is expected to miss the 2009 season after injuring his back in a fall two weeks ago.

Hornes, 5-foot-7 and 176 pounds, will work as a slot receiver but could make an impact as a speedy punt returner.

Junior college left tackle Carlos Savala, signed in February as a potential starter, will not play for USF this fall because of academic issues.

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