(EDITOR’S NOTE: If you were expecting to read about Darius Tice today, he switched to a lower number in the offseason, so we’ll catch up with him later.)
#31 S Jay Mize
1997-2000, 5’11", 185 lbs.
Career Stats: Jay Mize was part of the O.G., and he was USF’s first special teams ace, excelling in that role during his first 2 1/2 years as a Bull while also backing up Anthony Henry at free safety. When Henry got hurt in 1999, Jay got his first real chance as a starter, and his success in the secondary helped free up Henry for a move to cornerback for the 2000 season. Mize started four more games in his senior year until a shoulder injury against Troy State (maybe the same one that he had battled injuries to his entire USF career) knocked him out for the rest of the season.
Mize made a grand total of 127 tackles for the Bulls and seven TFL. He had one career sack (against The Citadel in 1998), broke up three passes, and recovered a fumble. He also once reportedly jumped over a blocker in kick coverage, did a front flip and landed on his feet, something I really wish we had video of.
How He Came To USF: Jay played at East Lake High School in Tarpon Springs. He led Pinellas County as a senior in 1995 with nine interceptions and made 91 tackles. Mize also played on the Eagles’ basketball team for three years. He joined USF’s original 1996 recruiting class and redshirted during the year of practices and scrimmages.
Recruiting Rankings: No one was ranking USF recruits back then.
His Best Game: In a revenge game two years in the making, USF beat Western Kentucky 21-6 in 1999 and Mize had a career-high 16 tackles.
Did You Know: Newer USF fans may know Jay’s business ventures better than his football career. When we held our Voodoo Funeral party two years ago, it was at Mize’s Irish 31 pub on Swann Avenue in Tampa. Last year Mize and Bucs wide receiver Vincent Jackson opened Ferg’s Live, across the street from Amalie Arena.
Trivia: Excluding names with initials, Jay is tied with five other players for the shortest name in USF football history (seven total letters). Can you name the others?