Scattered Clouds97° FULL FORECASTScattered Clouds97° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

Brett Kean named Bulls' backup QB

USF redshirt freshman Brett Kean (7) will enter the season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Quinton Flowers (9), Coach Willie Taggart confirmed.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF redshirt freshman Brett Kean (7) will enter the season as the No. 2 quarterback behind Quinton Flowers (9), Coach Willie Taggart confirmed.

Bulls coach Willie Taggart confirmed Tuesday morning what spring practices and recent scrimmages seemed to suggest: redshirt freshman Brett Kean is his backup quarterback.

Kean, who guided Ohio's St. Edward High to a state title in 2014, exited spring practice at No. 2 on the depth chart and remained there as recently as Saturday night's closed scrimmage. According to the Bulls' official Twitter feed, he directed at least two touchdown drives in that 120-play situational rehearsal.

UCLA transfer Asiantii Woulard presumably is the No. 3 QB at this point.

"Brett has had an outstanding camp; really, really stepped it up," said Taggart, whose team practiced in shells Tuesday morning, when feel-like temperatures eclipsed 100 degrees. "I think...not necessarily surprised all of us, but really impressed all of us."

As for those making the snaps, the depth chart remains undecided. Taggart said fourth-year junior Cameron Ruff -- a Jesuit High alumnus -- and redshirt freshman Michael Galati still are competing.

"They're getting after it. Guys aren't giving in to either one," Taggart said. …

Full Story

Breaking camp: 5 observations from USF preseason

Brett Kean was the No. 2 guy following his breakthrough spring, and doesn't appear to have relinquished that spot.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Brett Kean was the No. 2 guy following his breakthrough spring, and doesn't appear to have relinquished that spot.

The Bulls' 15-day preseason camp, arguably the most physically demanding of the Willie Taggart era, concluded Saturday night with an extensive closed scrimmage. Because only three practices were open to the public, we can't deliver a nuanced assessment of every position, but we have gleaned enough to offer what we deem some key observations. Here they are, based on post-practice interviews, the sliver of daily practice time to which we were privy, and the basic vibes we sensed.

1. Khalid McGee's the man at striker.
The backup to Jamie Byrd last season, McGee initially seemed destined to stay at No. 2 when senior Nate Godwin was moved from safety to this de facto nickel-back spot. But Godwin's nagging hamstring ailment has lingered, and McGee has maximized his opportunity -- earning a coveted gray shirt in the process. Following Thursday night's practice, Willie Taggart all but proclaimed McGee the starter.

2. Brett Kean's the backup QB
A little disclaimer here: After Saturday's situational scrimmage, Taggart was asked if Kean had solidified the backup role, but said he preferred to review the film first. That said, Kean was the No. 2 guy following his breakthrough spring, and doesn't appear to have relinquished that spot. USF athletic department staff writer Tom Zebold, who observed all of Saturday's scrimmage, said Kean got the majority of snaps behind Flowers on Saturday. If/when the Bulls build a comfortable lead on Towson in two weeks, we'd be shocked if Kean isn't the second QB to play.

3. Camp casualties minimal
The Bulls might have set a preseason record for fewest walking boots required. Aside from WR A.J. Legree's torn ACL and Godwin's hammy, USF appears to have made it through camp unscathed.

4. Two bay area Bulls on defensive front
Next to McGee, no defensive youngster has drawn more unsolicited praise this preseason than redshirt freshman DE Kirk Livingstone, who appears a lock to start. We project him lining up with DT Kevin Bronson, NT Bruce Hector (Robinson High) and 'Bull' DE Vincent Jackson (Jesuit).  
 
5. From heralded to humbled?
Perhaps the most glowing testament to the Bulls' depth -- and Taggart's recruiting -- is the fact only one of last year's four heralded Division I transfers is expected to start against Towson. We see WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (N.C. State) on the field at the opening snap, but not FS Austin Hudson (Wisconsin), MLB Cecil Cherry (Texas) or QB Asiantii Woulard (UCLA). While Taggart recently indicated Hudson has had a solid camp, he's mired in a numbers game with Tajee Fullwood and Devin Abraham. And while Cherry's physicality has drawn raves, he hasn't unseated team captain Auggie Sanchez. Woulard, meantime, seems the No. 3 QB at this point.

Projected starting lineup
Offense
TE Kano Dillon, So.
LT Kofi Amichia, Sr.
LG Jeremi Hall, R-Jr.
C  Cameron Ruff, R-Jr.
RG Dominique Threatt, Sr.
RT Billy Atterbury, R-Fr.
QB Quinton Flowers, Jr.
RB Marlon Mack, Jr.
X Marquez Valdes-Scantling, R-Jr.
Z Ryeshene Bronson, Jr.
Slot Rodney Adams, Sr.

Defense
DE Kirk Livingstone, R-Fr.
DT Kevin Bronson, So.
NT Bruce Hector, R-So.
DE Vincent Jackson, R-So.
WLB Nigel Harris, Sr.
MLB Auggie Sanchez, R-Jr.
CB Deatrick Nichols, Jr.
CB Ronnie Hoggins, So.
Striker Khalid McGee, So.
SS Jaymon Thomas, So.
FS Tajee Fullwood, Jr.

Special Teams
P Brent Gordon, So.
PK Emilio Nadelman, R-Jr.
LS Alex Salvato, Sr.
H Alex Mut, Sr.
KR Rodney Adams, Sr.
   D'Ernest Johnson, Jr.
PF Tajee Fullwood, Jr.

Full Story

Full disclosure: My inaugural AP ballot of 2016

During the vexing, stimulating, maddening and mildly addictive process of filling out an inaugural ballot, voters lean on two factors: history and/or potential.

We can assess what a nucleus of returning players has achieved in the past, or what we believe a given team is capable of achieving in the upcoming season.

As my first ballot of 2016 suggests, I gravitate toward the former: My top three teams all possess a proven quarterback.

And that's why Clemson sits atop my initial ballot.

Deshaun Watson, currently the college game's best at his position, is surrounded by versatile, veteran skill guys (a handful of whom were plucked from the bay area). And while the Tigers clearly have vacancies to fill on defense, their stockpile of talent is such that they replenish as well as anyone in America.

One of those other instant-replenishment programs, Alabama, must replace its quarterback. And while the Tide have proven they can do that quite effectively, I'm still reticent to place the reigning national champ in my top three.

Elsewhere, I gave serious, serious thought to putting Houston in my top 10, and I still believe the Cougars will give Oklahoma all it wants on Sept. 3.

1. Clemson
2. Oklahoma
3. LSU
4. Alabama
5. FSU
6. Ohio State
7. TCU
8. Tennessee
9. Michigan
10. Louisville
11. Houston
12. Washington
13. Notre Dame
14. Georgia
15. UCLA
16. Washington State
17. Ole Miss
18. Stanford
19. Michigan State
20. Florida
21. Miami
22. Oregon
23. Iowa
24. Oklahoma State
25. Boise State

Full Story

Big plays abound in Bulls' night scrimmage

A week after being dominated by the defense, Quinton Flowers and Co. mostly held their own Saturday night in the Bulls' second major situational scrimmage to conclude preseason camp.

Among the highlights in first-team work: a diving interception by CB Ronnie Hoggins, who jumped a wheel route; and Flowers responding by scrambling right for a 64-yard strike to Ryeshene Bronson, setting up Marlon Mack's 1-yard TD.

So who won the 120-play rehearsal? "That's a great question," Coach Willie Taggart said.

"I thought both sides of the ball made plays for us. ... I thought our offense came out and drove the ball really well that first drive, and the next time we got back, our defense got a couple of three-and-outs. But it was going back and forth, and that was kind of good to see."

Hoggins' play may have been the highlight of the evening. The way he described it, the Bulls ran a post route and wheel to one side, with Hoggins passing off the post to a safety and concentrating on the tight end slipping out of the backfield in the wheel.

"(Flowers) tried to throw it back shoulder and I jumped it," he said.

"I'm ready to go watch it again," Taggart added.

"He's a smart kid and he's always up there watching film or he's always out there working on his craft. Even on his days off, I look out the window and Ronnie Hoggins and (CB) Deatrick Nichols are out here working on backpedaling and breaking. It's not a coincidence why they're pretty good football players."

Other highlights:

* A tackle for loss by MLB Auggie Sanchez -- elected with Flowers as a team captain by his peers -- and sack by Countryside alumnus Mike Love on a stop against the first-team offense

* at least two touchdown drives by the second-team offense, led by redshirt freshman QB Brett Kean

* a 60-yard TD run by freshman QB Chris Oladokun

* a 40-yard run by freshman TB Trevon Sands

* a goal-line stand by the first-team defense at the 1-yard line, thwarting a 95-yard drive

"For me personally, it was just good to hear our guys out there communicating with each other," Taggart said.

"I think that's a credit to being in the system now going on Year 2. You just hear our guys communicating and calling out what they see, and you didn't get that before. I call a play and the defense is gonna call it out. I'm like, 'You gotta be kidding me. Shut up!'"

PICKED BY THEIR PEERS: Taggart used Twitter on Friday evening to confirm the selection of Sanchez and Flowers as 2016 captains.

"As you can see, Auggie is basically like the quarterback of the defense," Bronson said. "He's a real nice guy outside of football. He helps people out; when you're having a bad day he gives you wise words.

"Quinton, I think it's his time to be a leader. ... This year it's Year 3 and I feel like he's the man for the job and I think he's really gonna take care of us and lead us the right way."

ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls get Sunday and Monday off before embarking on more of a game week-type practice schedule. ... Taggart balked when asked after the scrimmage if Kean had solidified the No. 2 quarterback job. "We probably got about a 120-play scrimmage and our guys know we're gonna grade it. I hate just talking off the cuff 'cause I'm always wrong. I always think it's bad and I watch the film and it's not as bad as it looked and not as good as it looked." ... At least four Class of 2017 commitments attended the scrimmage including Cocoa QB Bruce Judson and Hillsborough High standout Duran Bell.

Full Story

Bulls put 214 on All-Academic team

Academically, the Bulls just hit the century mark -- twice.

USF placed 214 students -- 29 more than last year -- on the 2015-16 American Athletic Conference All-Academic team, the league announced Friday. The total ranks fifth among AAC schools.

Moreover, the combined 3.085 GPA posted by USF student-athletes for the 2015-16 academic year is highest on record for the Bulls athletic program.

To be eligible for the All-Academic team, nominees must have competed in an AAC-sponsored sport, attained a minimum GPA of 3.0 for the preceding academic year, and completed a minimum two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters of academic work, with a total of 18 semester or 27 quarter credits (excluding remedial courses).

The football team boasted 38 all-academic members, topping the previous program record (established in 2014 and '15) by 15. Women's track and field/cross country led all USF teams with a combined 45 honorees.

Here are the All-Academic team members broken down by sport:

Women's track and field/cross country: 45
Football: 38
Women's soccer: 22
Men's track and field/cross country: 19
Softball: 16
Baseball: 12
Volleyball: 12
Women's tennis: 11
Women's basketball: 9
Men's tennis: 8
Men's soccer: 7
Men's golf: 6
Women's golf: 5
Men's basketball: 4

Full Story

Khalid McGee making a move at striker

With slightly more than a week of preseason camp to go, USF's battle at striker (i.e. fifth defensive back) suddenly has shaped up as one of the fiercest.

Senior Nate Godwin emerged from spring practice atop the depth chart, but periodically has been nagged by a sore hamstring, creating an opportunity for sophomore Khalid McGee. Former Sickles High star Nate Ferguson also is believed to be in the mix.

McGee recently earned a coveted gray shirt, awarded to defensive players who display consistent practice effort. As McGee approached reporters for a post-practice interview Thursday night, Coach Willie Taggart walked up, put an arm around him and informed the media huddle that the former Miami Northwestern standout "has been having a heck of a camp."

"I tell you what, you'll be seeing him play Sept. 3 (against Towson), that's for sure," Taggart said.

Meantime, the battle at punter remains undecided between sophomore Brent Gordon -- who punted in the Miami Beach Bowl -- and FSU transfer Jonathan Hernandez. During the brief practice window opened Thursday to reporters, Hernandez had an attempt blocked deep in his own territory and scooped up by S Malik Dixon for a TD.

"We just talked about (the punting battle) as a group at the end," Taggart said. "We've got two weeks to go and those guys have got to separate themselves and make a big impact on our football team."

ODDS AND ENDS: Most of Thursday evening's practice was closed, but the team's official Twitter feed noted backup TB D'Ernest Johnson scored on a 60-yard run, finding a gap on a cut-back. Later, sophomore Chris Barr converted a quick out pattern into a 40-yard TD. ... Taggart got a mild surprise after making the team run following a missed field goal at the end of practice. "I was gonna run 'em just once and they came back, 'We want some more, Coach,'" he said. The players eventually did several sideline-to-sideline sprints. ... The Bulls are set to hold a closed scrimmage Saturday night.

AUDIBLE: "After having a day off, you always want to see how the guys are gonna respond after that, and I thought they came out with a lot of energy today and came out with a mindset of getting better. I felt like we got better as a football team today." -- Taggart, who cut Wednesday afternoon's practice short and treated the team to an afternoon at Clearwater Beach

Full Story

Data: Bulls boast nation's most localized roster

USF senior receiver Rodney Adams is among 34 bay area players on the Bulls' current roster.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

USF senior receiver Rodney Adams is among 34 bay area players on the Bulls' current roster.

If the Bulls wish to argue their roster contains more local flavor than any other team in the nation, they now have hard data to support their case.

Jake Sharpless, a marketing manager for New York-based secondary ticket marketplace Rukkus, recently compiled a study of all 128 Division I rosters that statistically illustrates USF's emphasis on recruiting the bay area. According to his data, the average distance from hometown to school is slightly more than 128 miles for Bulls players.

That's the shortest distance of any Division I program.

"I went to school at the University of Miami, so you'd always hear about the State of Miami, and keeping it as close to the vest as possible," said Sharpless, a 2008 UM graduate who grew up in Boston.

"I wanted to actually take like, a data-driven approach to it. So I took...over 13,000 players who are listed on rosters for the upcoming season, and put it into some spreadsheets, and this is some of the stuff that got spit back out."

Of the 105 players on USF's latest roster, 94 list a Florida hometown. Thirty-four hail from the bay area (Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco or Pinellas counties), with nine more from Sarasota or Manatee County, and five from Polk County.

"I tried to make it as visual as possible and also as data-driven as possible," Sharpless said. "It just so happens that, to my surprise, USF was the smallest radius -- if you want to call it that -- in terms of how far players travel to go to school."

Sharpless' analysis, which can be found at this link, also revealed more than one-third of all current Division I players hail from either Texas, Florida or California, with Texas (13.4 percent) leading the way.

Broken down to conferences, the shortest average distance from a player's hometown to school belongs to Conference USA (282.20 miles).

Bay-Made
A look at the average distance a player travels from hometown to school for the state's Division I football programs, according to data compiled by Jake Sharpless (distance computed in miles)

USF: 128.72
FAU:  189.03
FIU: 209.47
UCF: 351.10
Florida: 379.02
FSU: 402.66
Miami: 533.10

Full Story

Women's soccer: Roster features 5 backyard Bulls

USF forward AJ Blount, formerly of Wiregrass Ranch.

Courtesy of USF

USF forward AJ Blount, formerly of Wiregrass Ranch.

The Bulls women's soccer team features more local faces than it has in the last half-decade, and veteran coach Denise Schilte-Brown has plain ol' puberty to thank.

As her sixth-grade twins -- Ethan and Kenza -- have grown, so has her relationship with local club and prep coaches. To Schilte-Brown, a former Canadian national team member who still heavily recruits internationally, that's not a total coincidence.

"I think my twins are getting older, so I've been more engaged in the Florida scene," said Schilte-Brown, whose 2016 roster features five bay area players (three from Hillsborough County, two from Pasco).

"It's tough as a head coach, you feel like you're pulled in a million different directions. And although my husband (Chris) and I are associate heads, I still feel like the expectation for (recruits) is to see me, and that can be tough sometimes. But because my twins are more involved in the youth game, my relationships personally with the local club coaches and the girls have strengthened."

While the quintent of local Bulls is the most on a USF women's team since 2011, the roster remains distinctly international, with 13 players who hail from outside the U.S. including six from Canada.

Schilte-Brown, an Ontario native who played professionally in Germany, needed her international recruiting ties to initially fortify the Bulls program upon her arrival a decade ago. Even today, she said it remains her and her husband's niche. …

Full Story

USF hires Murry Bartow as assistant

Veteran college coach Murry Bartow has been hired as a USF men's basketball assistant.

Photo provided by USF

Veteran college coach Murry Bartow has been hired as a USF men's basketball assistant.

In what some might deem a late-summer coup for USF men's basketball, the Bulls have hired veteran college coach Murry Bartow to fill the vacancy on their staff.

Bartow, who turns 55 on Thursday, won 327 games and earned four NCAA Tournament trips as coach at UAB (1996-2002) and East Tennessee State (2003-15). He replaces Oliver Antigua, who resigned amid an NCAA probe into possible academic fraud issues at USF.

His dad, Gene, replaced John Wooden at UCLA before starting the program at UAB in 1978.

"He is someone who has great integrity and a basketball pedigree," Bulls coach Orlando Antigua said in a USF news release. "I have known him for a few years and have admired the type of person he is and the success he has had. I’m excited to have him as a member of our staff."

Bartow compiled a 103-83 record with one NCAA appearance at UAB before moving to ETSU. In 12 seasons with the Buccaneers, he amassed a 224-165 mark, won four conference titles and reached three NCAA Tournaments before the program endured a mild regression.

He was fired in 2015 after a 16-14 season.

Full Story

USF to send promotional material to Big 12

Screen shot from USF's promotional video.

University of South Florida

Screen shot from USF's promotional video.

USF has prepared a collection of promotional material, including a four-page "case statement" and a

short video, in its effort to land membership in the Big 12.

The material was provided Tuesday following a public-records request from the Tampa Bay Times. It also includes a full-color "highlights book" of more than 20 pages, showcasing the bay area and some of the school's most prominent academic/athletic accomplishments.

The case statement highlights an assortment of USF attributes including the average high school GPA (4.08) of its students, its freshman retention rate (89 percent), research dollars spent ($489 million, most of any current Big 12 school except Texas) and student population (41,938).

Upon its release, however, readers were quick to highlight its glaring faux pas: the word "research" misspelled (as reasearch) in its second paragraph. The school issued a corrected version shortly thereafter.

The two-minute video is rife with images of the campus and Tampa skyline, and features staged shots of USF athletes as well as football coach Willie Taggart delivering a pep talk. …

Full Story

Bulls bracing for stout test against Towson tailback

Towson senior Darius Victor, who faces USF in the Bulls opener on Sept. 3, is seeking his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

Photo by Doug Kapustin

Towson senior Darius Victor, who faces USF in the Bulls opener on Sept. 3, is seeking his third consecutive 1,000-yard season.

Arguably the most underrated ball carrier the Bulls defense will see all season happens to be majoring in electronic media and film.

But it's the footage of -- and not by -- Towson senior Darius Victor that USF defensive line coach Eric Mathies can't put down.

Seemingly crafted from the Ray Rice mold, Victor (5-foot-8, 227 pounds) seeks his third consecutive 1,000-yard season operating behind the same offensive line from 2015. Last fall, he ran 207 times for 1,021 yards and 15 touchdowns, including a monstrous effort (28 carries, 137 yards) in a 28-20 loss to East Carolina.

"A horse," Mathies said Monday.

"I've watched every game he's played at least three times since the summer to now, and every time he impressed me more and more because of his balance, his power, his finishing runs, he's falling forward."

Nonetheless, Mathies, whose unit helped the Bulls rank 31st nationally against the run (141.4 ypg) in 2015, said his front will attack Victor the same way it will go after the far sleeker, shiftier backs (i.e. Dalvin Cook) on its schedule.

"You've got to make sure you gang tackle, you've got to run to the football and you've got to be in your gaps," Mathies said. "You can't give good backs seams. You give good backs seams and they're gonna hurt you."

BLACK IS BACK: A year after a redshirt freshman season abbreviated by a torn hamstring, third-year sophomore DE Josh Black said he's finally healthy.

"Early in the morning, I try to be the first one up here every morning to get treatment so I can stay healthy so I can be ready to go this year," the Sickles High alumnus said.

Lining up mainly in the five-technique -- or directly over the tight end -- this fall, Black was limited to five games last season, but started against UCF. Two seasons prior to that, he had 20 sacks as a Gryphons senior and was named the Tampa Bay Times' Defensive Player of the Year for Hillsborough County.

"He's doing the things that you expected Josh to do when you recruited him," Mathies said. "He's still got to shake off that rust. He's still a year not playing, and that's tough. But he's starting to figure it out. He's gonna make some big plays this year for us."

ODDS AND ENDS: Quinton Flowers is on the watch list for the Manning Award, which bills itself as the only college quarterback award that considers a candidate's bowl performance in its balloting. Flowers had a 60-yard TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling against the first-team defense Monday morning, according to the Bulls' official Twitter feed. ... OL Grant Polk, a Virginia transfer, participated in Monday's practice. Polk is sitting out this year per NCAA transfer rules. ... Ralph Russo of the Associated Press picks USF to win the American Athletic Conference.

AUDIBLE: "I think overall it probably was not our best day, because Coach (Willie Taggart) demands us to come out here and thrive for perfection. I don't know if we thrived for perfection today." -- Mathies on Monday morning's practice, when humidity was hovering around 60 percent and feel-like temperatures were flirting with 100.

Full Story

Bulls confirm arrival of OL Grant Polk

USF has confirmed the addition of OT Grant Polk, a Virginia transfer.

Coach Willie Taggart said Sunday -- the Bulls' picture day at Raymond James Stadium -- that Polk (6-foot-6, 295 pounds) has enrolled in classes, but will sit out the season due to NCAA transfer rules.

Polk, who redshirted last season, took part in the team's picture day at Raymond James Stadium, wearing No. 79.

"He's with our squad now and he will be participating in training camp with us," Taggart said.

A consensus three-star prospect out of Punta Gorda's Charlotte High, Polk earned Class 7A all-state honors in 2014. He was granted his unconditional release from Virginia following spring practice in April.

BIG BOARDS: Sunday provided the coaches and players their first up-close glimpse of RayJay's upgraded video boards.

QB Quinton Flowers described his initial reaction in one word: "Wow."

"It's really big," he said. "Just imagine yourself running down the sideline or running up the middle and just seeing somebody chasing you. You're looking on that jumbotron and it's really going to be feeling like that (defender) is right there.

"It's just amazing."

Taggart said the boards, along with the stadium's upgraded sound system, gives the team an even greater sense of home-field advantage.

"It's big-time, man," he said. "That scoreboard is big, and ... I think it's a great addition to what's already a nice stadium. This just adds on to it now, giving the stadium a little more detail. It's pretty cool."

 

 

Full Story

Defense dominates Bulls scrimmage

Nose tackle Deadrin Senat (10) is among the three latest Bulls defensive players to be awarded gray shirts for their practice consistency.

JOEY KNIGHT | Times

Nose tackle Deadrin Senat (10) is among the three latest Bulls defensive players to be awarded gray shirts for their practice consistency.

Three weeks before the season opener, QB Quinton Flowers says the offense is ready.

It just didn't show it for the better part of Saturday morning's closed situational scrimmage at the Morsani Complex.

"Rough morning," Flowers said following the closed session. "At the end of the day, I've got to get my guys to where -- no matter what time it is, no matter what day it is -- when Coach (Willie Taggart) says come out to practice it's time to practice."

Among the few offensive highlights was the final play (open to reporters), in which freshman QB Chris Oladokun found Newsome High alumnus Donovan Geter behind the secondary on a textbook post route for a 60-yard TD.

Earlier, WR Stanley Clerveaux hauled in a TD pass from backup QB Brett Kean, and backup RB Darius Tice had a couple of short scoring runs. Otherwise, the scrimmage was dominated by the defense, Taggart said. …

Full Story

Lessons from past propelling Nigel Harris

WLB Nigel Harris has just about everything going his way as he embarks on his final season with the Bulls.

The former Hillsborough High standout was one of the first defensive players to be awarded a gray “Bull Shark” jersey for his effort in spring camp. He has been referred to as a leader by his teammates. He’s even in arguably the best shape of his playing career at 218 pounds -- 13 fewer than last season.

This time last year, however, Harris was in a much different place following a breakout sophomore campaign.

Toward the end of spring practice in March 2015, he was suspended indefinitely along with teammate Tashon Whitehurst for an undisclosed violation of team rules. It carried over into the regular season, costing Harris the first two games of the season -- including USF’s matchup at Florida State.

But instead of letting it affect him negatively, Harris said he worked to set himself straight.

“I faced some big adversity last season, but I saw it as a lesson,” Harris said Friday. “I just (kept praying)...and other people were around me. The staff helped me out. They sent me to the right people to get things situated.”

There has been no looking back since.

After rebounding to finish with 42 tackles (4 1/2 for loss) in 11 games in 2015, Harris has carried those lessons into this season. He hopes to continue setting a high standard on and off the field.

“It’s just always about having good character,” he said. “It’s always about how you come back from certain things.”

LEARNING FROM THE GREATS: Redshirt freshman OL Billy Atterbury is taking teachings from the past to help his bid to start at right tackle on Sept. 3 against Towson.

The Clearwater Central Catholic alumnus, who capped a strong spring practice by taking the top spot on the depth chart, said the leadership and advice passed down from the seniors that anchored last season’s line have helped motivate him.

“I think through camp right now and into the beginning of the season, we just have to work to build that connection that they had last year to become as good as they were,” he said.

ODDS AND ENDS: Harris said DB Devin Abraham had an interception during 11-on-11 drills in practice, which was called early due to lightning. … CBS Sports ranked the Bulls 30th in its preseason poll of all 128 Division I-A teams, second in the AAC to only Houston (14th). … Though he might be battling for a starting spot, Atterbury said he has his fellow offensive linemen beat in one competition -- bowling. “I’ll have an unlucky game, someone will have a lucky game, but I’m winning most of the time,” he said.

AUDIBLE: “Every dream starts with a vision, and Coach (Willie Taggart) had a vision. Dreams are coming true right here in Tampa, Fla.” -- Harris on what it has been like seeing USF evolve from a 2-10 team (during his freshman year) to one of the top contenders in the conference as a senior

Full Story

Bulls announce non-conference schedule changes

USF announced more changes to its fluid non-conference slate Friday including confirmation of a home-and-home series against San Jose State.

The Bulls make the program's second trip to California -- and third to the Pacific Time Zone -- for a Friday night contest against the Spartans on Sept. 8, 2017. SJSU plays in Tampa on Sept. 12, 2020.

Additionally, the school announced its home-and-home series against Georgia Tech -- originally set for 2021 and '22 -- is being pushed ahead. The Bulls host the Yellow Jackets on Sept. 8, 2018 in Tampa, and play in Atlanta on Sept. 17, 2019.

The school also announced its return game at Northern Illinois, which visits Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 10, has been moved to 2025.

Full Story