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USD Training Camp
Wasn’t it just the other day that the University of San Diego had the best non-scholarship football program going? The Toreros were churning out a couple of NFL-caliber players and beating teams they never defeated before, including those who gave out some scholies?
Those days aren’t necessarily over, but after 2009’s 4-7 campaign, you have to start wondering if the end is not at least close.
The Toreros report to training camp on Tuesday to try to get back on the winning track as Ron Caragher enters his fourth year as the head coach. Before last season’s disappointment, he put together consecutive 9-2 campaigns. It’ll be interesting to see if he can get back there again.
The 2010 Toreros will be built around senior DT Paul Tremblay and junior DE Mario Kurn (both of Santa Fe Christian), who had four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. The 12 returning starters include five on offense, six on defense and placekicker Mike Levine. The rushing game could be enhanced by the return of injury-plagued RB Phil Morelli, and John McGough (49 receptions) and 2009 Pioneer League Offensive Freshman of the Year Kyle Warren (6 TDs among 11 catches) lead the receiving corps.
There are three names on the roster worth pointing out, transfers of the sort that have powered USD in the recent past: former Union-Tribune Male Athlete of the Year QB Mason Mills (Coronado High), ex-Helix High and Southwestern College RB Kenslow Smith, who returns home from Sacramento State, and TE Colin King, who brings excellent size in from the Air Force Academy.
The home schedule is highlighted by a Sept. 18 visit by FCS scholarship program UC Davis and a showdown a week later with defending PFL champion Butler.
Caragher’s seat could be a bit warm, if USD’s push to advance its athletic programs remains as strong as it did a few years ago when a number of longtime coaches in several sports were sent packing. There are a lot of reasons for last year’s 4-7, including stability at QB and injuries. Whether the after-effects are to be felt in 2010, I don’t know. Lindy’s preseason college football magazine listed the Toreros fourth in the PFL behind Jacksonville, Butler and Dayton but The Sporting News puts them seventh. Phil Steele’s magazine did not place any USD players on the first team PFL squad.
That could be all from a bunch of unknowns who will make their marks in 2010. Or it could be a continuation of a downward trend. Either way will be interesting, because this program is in flux.
By James R. Riffel, San Diego Sports Blog