The USF Bulls football team is entering just its 15th season of existence, but USF has sent quite a few players to the NFL. I whittled the list down to my top 10 picks.
Here are the top 10 NFL players who are former Bulls:10. Ryan Benjamin (Buccaneers, Bears), 2001-2004: Are you surprised the list begins with a long snapper? Benjamin got to live the dream of so many kids: grow up in the Tampa Bay region, play college ball at USF, and win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs and Bulls share Raymond James Stadium, and he was the only former Bull on the only Bucs team to win it all. 9. J.R. Reed (Eagles, Rams), 2004-2008: Bulls fans will always remember the hard-hitting safety who patrolled the secondary for the Bulls. Football is a team game, but Reed basically beat the Memphis Tigers in 2003 all by himself. He had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and three interceptions. His NFL career was cut way too short by a freakish offseason injury while climbing a fence.
8. Jacquian Williams (Giants), 2011-present: Williams had a very solid season for the Giants as a rookie in 2011, contributing both on defense and special teams. He earned a place on this list for making the key play that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl as a rookie. He stripped the ball from 49ers kick returner Kyle Williams late in the game that set up the game-winning field goal.
7. Bill Gramatica (Cardinals, Dolphins), 2001-2004: Gramatica made a 63-yard field goal at USF in 2000. He is also the all-time leading NFL scorer amongst former Bulls with 171 NFL points. Unfortunately, for him, he will also be remembered for tearing his ACL during his rookie season after celebrating a made field goal.
6. Nate Allen (Eagles), 2010-present: Allen reminded Bulls fans of J.R. Reed; they were both hard-hitting safeties drafted by the Eagles. Allen has over 100 NFL tackles and five interceptions in just his first two NFL seasons.
5. Mike Jenkins (Cowboys), 2008-present: Jenkins was USF's first ever first-round NFL draft pick when the Cowboys drafted him in 2008. He has proved his worth, with eight NFL interceptions and almost 150 tackles. At USF, Jenkins was a lockdown corner, often shutting down the opposition's best receiver.
4. Jason Pierre-Paul (Giants), 2010-present: Pierre-Paul was only a Bulls player for one season, joining the Bulls for his junior season in 2009 before declaring for the NFL draft. Jason teamed up with two-time All-American George Selvie to harass opposing quarterbacks. He has 21 NFL sacks in his first two seasons, one Pro Bowl invite, and one Super Bowl title. He is one of the brightest stars in the NFL today, and he will certainly climb up this list in future years.3. Stephen Nicholas (Falcons), 2007-present: Bulls fans will remember Nicholas as the star of the best Bulls linebackers squad alongside Ben Moffitt and Patrick St. Louis. As a member of the Atlanta Falcons, his play has been outstanding. He has over 250 tackles, five sacks, and a couple interceptions.
2. Anthony Henry (Browns, Cowboys, Lions), 2001-2009: Henry was clearly the star of the early years of Bulls football. He was not only a four-year starter but also was a four-year captain. His NFL numbers are very impressive: over 500 tackles and 31 interceptions in nine seasons. His best year in the NFL was his rookie season when he picked off 10 passes. He is also USF's first football player inducted into the school's hall of fame.
1. Kawika Mitchell (Chiefs, Giants, Bills, Saints), 2003-2010: Mitchell was dominant as a linebacker for the Bulls. His NFL resume is impressive, with almost 500 tackles, 12 sacks, six forced fumbles, and six interceptions. He got the nod for the No. 1 position on this list because he was a key member of the 2007 Giants team that won the Super Bowl.
Mike Stuben is a USF alum, former employee of USF, and fan of the USF Bulls.
Sources: www.gousfbulls.com and www.nfl.com
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