VERO BEACH, Fla. - When you're a cornerback, everyone can see you out on the edges, lined up with the other team's receivers. Even though you might be winning the battles, it only takes one play for the receiver to win the war. But, there is one thing that can keep that from happening, the safeties.

"DBs have a hard job," senior Quenton Washington said. "But, having those safeties back there, that makes a huge difference. When you have safeties you can trust, we as corners can be a lot more aggressive because we know those guys are going to be there if we need it."

For the University of South Florida, that security blanket is led by Jerrell Young and Jon Lejiste. Young, a senior who has played in 34 games, starting 18, and Lejiste, a junior who has played in 26 games, starting 14, including all 13 last year, are very familiar with each other. That familiarity breeds confidence and they feel like as a duo, they can have an even greater impact for the 2011 Bulls.

"Jon and I have been working together for three years," Young said. "We know who is doing what, where each other are going to be and we can count on each other. I think it makes the defense that much better because we've played together for a long time."

As the pair has grown, not only have their skills improved, but their leadership has as well. Defensive backs coach Rick Smith has seen not only the growth in Young and Lejiste, but how that has impacted his room as a whole.

"They lead by example," said Smith. "I started talking about leadership when I was first hired here. I try to make them understand that you're either a positive leader or a negative leader. Those two kids have just been great examples."

Because of that leadership, they've helped grow the safety position into one of the strongest units for the Bulls. With sophomores JaQuez Jenkins and Mark Joyce, USF has at least four safeties they can rely on and the growth in the young players can be attributed to the elder pair.

"They bring a lot of leadership," said Jenkins. "They help us out a lot. If we have questions for them, they always seem to have the right answer. They always put us in the right position when we're on the field. They have a lot of game experience, which really helps us out."

By serving as leaders, Young and Lejiste have made life easier for the other members of the secondary. They've done the same for coach Smith and he's quick to point that out to head coach Skip Holtz.

"I told coach after the first month I was here that this might be the best group of men I've ever had in my room to meet with," Smith added, "and I told him again the other day, I just get excited to walk in there."



USF is just one of four programs nationally that has won three consecutive bowl games. Last year, the Bulls defeated Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, 31-26. Previously, USF was victorious in the 2009 International Bowl, 27-3, over Northern Illinois and bettered Memphis, 41-14 in the 2008 MajicJack St. Pete Bowl. Since joining the BIG EAST in 2005, the Bulls are 4-2 in bowl games.



Today's question from @Maloreetb on Twitter:
How many days a week do the guys train in the weight room? 

Thanks Maloreetb. This question makes sense coming from someone who is majoring in exercise science with a focus on strength and conditioning. During the season, the guys workout in the weight room three times per week and during the offseason, they are in the weight room five times per week.