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Trib: USF's Pierre-Paul casting draft shadow over Selvie


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USF's Pierre-Paul casting draft shadow over Selvie

By SCOTT CARTER

scarter@tampatrib.com


42447_0418bulls.jpg

George Selvie (left) was once considered a first-round prospect, but now it's Jason Pierre-Paul drawing raves.


To fully grasp the oddity of where they are, you need to know where they were. A good place to start is near the end of 2007.

George Selvie was a star in the making. The University of South Florida sophomore was a first-team All-American and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year, and his school-record 311/2 tackles for loss - including 14 sacks - led the nation.

Selvie's accomplishments garnered stories in national magazines, created speculation about how long before he bolted for the NFL and, for perhaps the first time in the brief history of USF football, the Bulls had the kind of player who could boost the stature of a program all by himself.

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 miles away in Santa Clarita, Calif., a basketball player-turned-defensive end was homesick at College of the Canyons, a liberal-arts school that dropped football for more than a decade until restoring the program in 1998.

In his only season at College of the Canyons, Jason Pierre-Paul introduced himself regularly to opposing quarterbacks, leading the Cougars with 14 sacks.

"He came here and dominated," COC coach Garett Tujague said. "He was just a freak athlete who could do about anything on the field. He's the biggest, most athletic player I've coached."

Born to Haitian parents, Pierre-Paul spent most of his youth in Deerfield Beach. Being so far away from his family was difficult, and he transferred to Fort Scott (Kan.) Community College shortly after his freshman season.

Fast forward about two years.

Selvie and Pierre-Paul are two of the most talked about defensive ends available in the NFL draft, which starts Thursday. But the conversation isn't what you might expect.

Consider ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay's opinion prior to the NFL combine when discussing the Bucs' need for an elite pass-rush specialist with the third overall pick.

"They are in dire need of a speed rusher and Pierre-Paul is the most explosive one this draft class has to offer," McShay wrote on his draft blog.

McShay has retreated somewhat in his assessment that Pierre-Paul will go that high. But based on the countless mock drafts from draft experts and scouting services, Pierre-Paul appears almost a lock to supplant defensive back Mike Jenkins (25th overall pick by Dallas in 2008) as USF's highest-drafted player.

At USF's Pro Day on March 30, Pierre-Paul's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said, "I'll be stunned if he's not in the top 10."

NFL scouts marvel at Pierre-Paul's athleticism for a player who stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 270 pounds, highlighted by a YouTube video with nearly 500,000 views of him doing more than a dozen back-flips following an International Bowl practice.

"At the combine, he was unbelievable as far as first-step quickness," former Cowboys executive Gil Brandt recently told The Sporting News.

Pierre-Paul's breakout game last season was at Florida State. He forced a fumble and had three tackles for loss, including a sack in USF's 17-7 win.

The biggest question mark surrounding Pierre-Paul is his lack of seasoning playing against high-caliber competition.

"People say I'm raw," he said at Pro Day. "I say I'm God-gifted. I just want a chance to play and show what I can do."

As Pierre-Paul was surrounded by television cameras and microphones following his Pro Day workout at USF, Selvie quietly made his exit without speaking to reporters.

In his final two seasons at USF, Selvie managed only eight sacks - six fewer than in his record-setting sophomore season.

A former offensive lineman at Pensacola Pine Forest, USF was Selvie's only Division I offer. If measured by statistics, he had an excellent college career, leaving as USF's all-time sacks leader with 29 and playing in four bowl games.

In late September, NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. rated Selvie as one of the five best senior defensive ends available in the draft.

However, Selvie's stock has dropped considerably. According to scouting reports, it's primarily because he lacks upper-body strength. Scouts say Selvie, who checked in at 6-4, 252 pounds at the combine, doesn't have the kind of point-of-contact strength to battle 300-pound NFL offensive linemen.

He appears destined to get his shot in the NFL as perhaps a situational pass-rusher in a 3-4 defense, or as an outside linebacker. Mock drafts have him going no higher than the third round, possibly as low as the sixth.

Selvie has prepared for the draft quietly in Pierre-Paul's shadow since their only season as teammates ended more than three months ago.

Prior to his final game at USF, Selvie contemplated his NFL prospects and whether he made the right choice to finish his college career instead of entering the draft when he was a likely first-round pick.

"It was the right decision for me to stay in school," he said. "I don't regret anything. I wanted to get my degree and enjoy my time in college.

"I'll have to start over in the NFL just like I started fresh when I got to USF."

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its been the elephant in the room for some time.

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Surprised this wasn't written about earlier.

Hopefully Selve will do well in the pros

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Selvie has a "motor" !!! ... I still feel he'll do well and will be in the league for a while.

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i blame coaching staff for not making selvie stronger

usf's conditioning as a team was always bad

thatis why we arent finishers

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i blame coaching staff for not making selvie stronger

usf's conditioning as a team was always bad

There is some merit in this. I can think of a bunch of games where we were cramping and sucking wind in the heat and the northern schools were not.

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i blame coaching staff for not making selvie stronger

usf's conditioning as a team was always bad

There is some merit in this. I can think of a bunch of games where we were cramping and sucking wind in the heat and the northern schools were not.

I can think of many more where the opposite was true.

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