2000 statistical leaders (* - returners) Rushing: Rafael Williams (704 yds) Passing: Marquel Blackwell* (2,016 yds) Receiving: Scott McCready (517 yds) Tackles: Kawika Mitchell* (77) Sacks: Greg Walls* (3) Interceptions: Anthony Henry (5)
This will be South Florida's first year as a full-fledged Division I-A team. The program debuted in 1996 and began competing in 1997. It has been nationally ranked in I-AA since '98. The Bulls will join Conference USA in 2003.
Battling it out
Gone is four-year starter Raphael Williams, so the Bulls will have to find a new tailback for the first time in the history of the program. The top candidates are redshirt freshman Clenton Crossley and senior Derrick Rackard. Rackard, who has only 18 carries in his career, is listed first after the spring, but Crossley has great talent and will be difficult to hold off.
Eye catcher: FS J.R. Reed
Reed saw limited action last year as a freshman in a secondary with four senior starters. He was expected to step into a starting role this spring, and he has not disappointed. He has a great work ethic and plays with a lot of intensity. He is a hard hitter for his size and has shown a good grasp of the defensive scheme. Reed has big shoes to fill, replacing NFL draft choice Anthony Henry.
Budding Star: WR DeAndrew Rubin
He had 17 catches last season, despite missing the second half of the year with an ankle injury. Rubin already has seven TD catches in his first season and a half of college football. A fabulous athlete, he runs a 4.42-second 40-yard dash and has averaged 23.4 yards on nine punt returns. Look for him to be a favorite target of quarterback Marquel Blackwell, who was his high school teammate.
Brad Edwards researches college football for ESPN and is a contributor to ESPN.com throughout the year.