Ten Bulls on ballot for AAC’s 5th anniversary football team

Former USF standout Marlon Mack had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Bulls. [CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times]
Former USF standout Marlon Mack had three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for the Bulls. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
Published July 5 2018

Your resident USF beat reporter's annual summer respite, observed this year in segments divided by some pomp and circumstance at the Yuengling Center (see Kelly, Michael), has ended.

But the 24/7 Bulls news cycle seemingly never takes a holiday. So with the body refreshed and batteries re-charged, time to play a little catch-up on what has transpired on the USF landscape recently.

* Ten former Bulls are on the ballot for the American Athletic Conference's fifth anniversary football team, which can be found at this link. Nominees on the fan ballot were first-team all-conference picks at least once in their careers, or multiple-time second-team selections.

Representing USF are QB Quinton Flowers, RB Marlon Mack, LB Auggie Sanchez, CB Deatrick Nichols, OL Kofi Amichia, OL Jeremi Hall, DE Aaron Lynch, DT Deadrin Senat, P Mattias Ciabatti and PK Emilio Nadelman.

Fans also may write in their own selections for each position, giving Bulls fans the opportunity to vote for players (i.e. Marvin Kloss, D'Ernest Johnson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling) who may have been overlooked. Deadline for fan balloting is July 13.

* Don't be surprised if some degree of administrative turnover (prevalent in the Mark Harlan era) also occurs on Michael Kelly's watch.

As he said more than once during his introductory press conference Friday, the Bulls' new athletic director is "drinking water from a fire hose" right now, engaging in a crash course on the Bulls' personnel and programs.

RELATED: New USF AD Michael Kelly on football center, conference realignment and new stadium

But it's only natural Kelly ultimately may wish to do some re-structuring, and perhaps bring in some people with whom he has worked in the past. "What we're doing is, we're going in to learn, assess and make the best assessment we can on what we have," he said.

"Talking to the whole staff (Friday), we're gonna be a positive team culture. We've got many sports, but we've got one team, and if people want to jump on to that type of philosophy, there's probably a place for you here at USF. But we're gonna make sure we're modeled for excellence."

* Sunday was a transformative day for USF on two fronts: The Sun Dome officially became the Yuengling Center, and the Bulls' eight-year partnership with Adidas formally began. Here's our story on the details of the agreement. (Note how the deal potentially becomes enriched if USF joins a Power Five conference).

* With six non-binding commitments (three offensive, three defensive players) at this point, the Bulls' 2019 recruiting class currently is ranked ninth in the AAC by 247Sports.

Which means squat.

More than five months remain until the NCAA's early signing period, and from what history has taught us, Charlie Strong and Co. are capable of going on a staggering recruiting surge. Not that such history will appease the more panic-prone members of the fan base.

* USF recently had 212 student-athletes named to the 2017-18 AAC All-Academic team, only two shy of the program record achieved in the 2015-16 school year. Women's track/cross country led the way with 41 honorees, while football (36) was second.

To be eligible, student-athletes must have competed in an AAC-sponsored sport, maintained a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the preceding academic year, and completed a minimum of two consecutive semesters — or three consecutive quarters — of academic work (a total of 18 semester or 27 quarter credit hours).

* Slipping through the cracks amid the Yuengling/Kelly news was the completion of the Bulls women's basketball team's 2018-19 non-conference slate, which features seven games against teams that reached last season's NCAA Tournament.

The home highlight is Oklahoma (Nov. 18). Less than a week later, the Bulls will face Kentucky, North Carolina and UCLA on consecutive days in the U.S. Virgin Islands Paradise Jam.

"We can control who we play during our non-conference," said Bulls coach Jose Fernandez, whose program seeks its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth next season.

"This type of schedule will prepare us for January, February and the NCAA Tournament. We strive in continuing to compete at the highest level and against the best teams in the country."

Question now becomes, will the NCAA selection committee strive to take notice?

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