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Miam Herald: Defensive backs keep FAU soaring

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Miam Herald: Defensive backs keep FAU soaring

Defensive backs keep FAU soaring

Three former Florida high school stars have combined for 17 interceptions this year, helping their team reach its first-ever bowl game.

Posted on Wed, Dec. 12, 2007

BY SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN
[email protected]

The most potent trio of defensive backs from the Football Bowl Subdivision hail from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Naples.

Among them: 17 interceptions, including one against Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and another against Kentucky's Andre' Woodson – ending Woodson's record-setting streak of 325 passes without a pick.

Two are little guys and the other spent nine years in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where cricket rules and football doubles as soccer.

All play for Florida Atlantic University, the only South Florida football team heading to a bowl game this season. They are Taheem Acevedo, a senior free safety out of Miami Felix Varela High; Tavious Polo, a redshirt freshman cornerback out of South Plantation High; and Corey Small, a junior cornerback out of Naples Gulf Coast High.

Together with the rest of the Owls, they will leave Boca Raton on Monday to face Memphis in the New Orleans Bowl on Dec. 21.

''This program has only been alive seven years,'' said the 5-10, 160-pound Polo, whose seven interceptions are tied with four other Bowl Subdivision players behind Alphonso Smith of Wake Forest and Troy's Elbert Mack, each of whom has eight. ``We've gotten to a bowl game faster than any other team in the country. It's a blessing.''

The Owls (7-5, 6-1 Sun Belt Conference) have had plenty of fun in the defensive backfield. Polo had three picks in FAU's 42-39 victory at Minnesota, including the game-saving catch in the closing drive. He also picked off early Heisman contender Woodson, ending his interception-less streak.

As soon as quarterbacks began to shy away from Polo, Small got his share on the other side. Small and Acevedo, who led the 2006 team with four interceptions apiece, ended this regular season with five each.

FAU defenders have accounted for at least one interception in the past 20 games, a number sports information director Katrina McCormack has not been able to duplicate among other Bowl Subdivision schools.

Small, 5-10 and 182 pounds, picked off Tebow and returned the interception 36 yards to set up an FAU touchdown in Florida's 59-20 victory on Nov. 17.

''He overthrew the ball,'' Small said. ``I don't know what he was reading, but he let it fly. The receiver misjudged it and it kind of fell into my arms. I was in the right place at the right time.''

Acevedo is a fifth-year senior who will earn his degree in health administration/business on Friday. Originally committed to West Point, he declined the offer when they asked him to go to prep school for a year.

''FAU offered me a full scholarship and playing time my first year,'' said Acevedo, who is 6-1 and 220 pounds. ``I just wanted to keep playing.''

Acevedo moved to Miami from St. Thomas at age 9 and played football for the first time in ninth grade at Miami American Senior High. He transferred to Felix Varela before his senior year.

Acevedo, Polo and Small know what they're up against in Conference USA's Memphis (7-5), whose quarterback, Martin Hankins, leads the 12th-ranked passing offense with 2,939 yards and 22 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions. Receivers Duke Calhoun and 6-8 Carlos Singleton have combined for 1,554 yards and 15 touchdowns.

''He's a good quarterback,'' Small said. ``But we've been up against some of the best in the nation. We'll be ready.''
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Re: Miam Herald: Defensive backs keep FAU soaring

POSITIVE press from the hearld?????

Wait, this just in from Satan, he's built his first snowman.

;D

I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick @$$ and I'm out of bubble gum.

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Re: Miam Herald: Defensive backs keep FAU soaring

We will miss Acevedo, hope we have somebody ready to come in and play some ball next season.

Teambeer is the most knowledgeable FAU sports fan I know, way smarter than me.
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