Here’s our Mount Rushmore of Tampa Bay college sports
Of all the Mount Rushmores being chiseled on our previously prostrate landscape, we defy you to find one encompassing more ESPY-worthy clips per granite inch than the carved homage to USF and the University of Tampa:
Freddie Solomon, University of Tampa
Solomon was UT's option quarterback, the greatest player in Spartans football history and UT's all-time rushing leader (3,299 yards). Solomon, who finished 12th in the 1974 Heisman voting and earned two Super Bowl rings with the 49ers, was arguably two decades ahead of his time. Which is to say, he was a template for the next generation's dual-threat quarterbacks.
Matt Grothe, USF
Speaking of dual threats, with his blend of grit and improvisational flair, Grothe evolved into USF's first folk hero, setting the school's total yardage record (10,875) and leading the Bulls' ascension to the No. 2 spot in the BCS rankings in 2007. To this day, No. 8 Grothe jerseys abound at Bulls home games.
Quinton Flowers, USF
The No. 9 jersey could be the first to be retired by the school. Flowers, who did no less than save Willie Taggart's job (see Syracuse game, 2015), broke Grothe's total yardage record (11,802) and at least 36 other school marks. His 605-yard effort in last season's loss at UCF remains the greatest single-game performance in school lore.
Charlie Bradley, USF
Speaking of retired jerseys, that leads us to Bradley, whose No. 30 hangs in the Yuengling Center. Still the USF basketball program's leading scorer (2,319 points) more than 30 years after his college career ended, Bradley reached double figures in 84 consecutive games. He once hung 42 on FSU in a 13-point win in the old "Florida Four" tournament, then scored 30 the following night in a 77-73 victory against Florida.
Missed the Mount: Tino Martinez was a three-time Division II All-American at UT and member of the 1988 U.S. Olympic baseball team. And Bulls All-American edge rusher George Selvie may remain the best defensive player in a program built on defense.
Editor's Note: News of Lightning great Marty St. Louis' impending induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame got those of us in the Times sports department thinking: If Tampa Bay had a Mount Rushmore of sports, who would be on it? You can read columnist Tom Jones' answer to that here, but we didn't want to stop there. We also picked Mount Rushmores for each major league franchise in our market, a bay-area colleges Mount and one for individual sports.