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It's official: Bulls land Woulard, and a wideout

Former Lakewood High receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has transferred from N.C. State to USF, the Bulls announced Thursday.

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Former Lakewood High receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling has transferred from N.C. State to USF, the Bulls announced Thursday.

USF confirmed the transfer Thursday evening of UCLA quarterback Asiantii Woulard, with a receiver tossed in for good measure.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling, a former Lakewood High standout who spent the past two seasons at North Carolina State, also is moving back home. Both players must sit out the 2015 season per NCAA rules, and will have two years' eligibility thereafter.

Woulard, ranked the nation's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect by ESPN.com while at Winter Park High, has enrolled for summer classes and will join the team for workouts this month prior to the start of preseason camp on Aug. 6.

Valdes-Scantling, a prep teammate of Bulls WR Rodney Adams, is expected to enroll for the fall semester and join the Bulls at the beginning of preseason drills. …

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Taggart promotes GA to coach tight ends

USF graduate assistant David Gilbertson, a former Washington State quarterback with a strong football pedigree, will replace Stu Holt as Bulls tight ends coach, the school announced.

Holt, who oversaw tight ends and special teams, recently departed for an assistant's job at Sun Belt Conference program Appalachian State. A North Carolina native and former Tar Heels long snapper, Holt joined the Mountaineers staff to move his family closer to home, USF officials indicated.

Gilbertson becomes the sixth new Bulls assistant hired since the end of the 2014 season. The Bulls still haven't indicated who will coach special teams.

“David is a really smart, cerebral coach who brings a lot of energy, is great with our kids and has their respect,” Bulls coach Willie Taggart said in a university release. “He is the son of a coach and has been with our program for a year now and really knows our system and what we want to do. He’ll be a great fit for the Bulls moving forward.”

Gilbertson, a Pac-12 All-Academic honoree, was a backup quarterback at Washington State, where he played for former Bulls offensive coordinator Paul Wulff and later Mike Leach. His dad, Keith, was head coach at three universities -- Division I-AA Idaho, Cal and Washington -- and later served in the Cleveland Browns front office.

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Bulls find new radio home

News-talk radio station WWBA-AM 820, which provides a 50,000-watt signal in the bay area, is the new flagship station for the USF/IMG Radio Network, Bulls athletic director Mark Harlan announced Wednesday.

The station, which bills its daytime signal as stretching north to the Panhandle and south to Naples, will carry all Bulls football and men's basketball games and coaches shows, and all night women's basketball games.

Under the terms of the multi-year deal, sister station WHBO-AM 1040 will carry women's hoops day games. USF baseball also will be carried on the 1040-AM signal, with postseason availability on 820-AM.

"We are excited for the opportunity to increase the signal strength and accessibility of our radio network in the bay area and statewide," Harlan said in a USF news release.

"We hope to provide the opportunity for more Bulls fans to tune in to what we anticipate will be a very exciting time for USF athletics, and look forward to a productive relationship with 820-AM and its sister station 1040-AM."

The new partnership comes seven months after the Bulls' previous radio home, WHFS-FM 98.7, ceased its all-sports programming in the wake of an ownership change. …

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Report: Stu Holt headed to Appalachian State

USF had not responded Tuesday evening to a Sports Illustrated report that Bulls tight ends/special teams coach Stu Holt has left the program and will join the staff at Appalachian State.

The report, citing an anonymous source, indicated the Mountaineers -- members of the Sun Belt Conference -- have a vacancy at running backs coach. Holt is a Hamptonville, N.C., native and former University of North Carolina long-snapper.

USF begins preseason drills Aug. 6. If the report is accurate, Holt would become the fifth Bulls assistant to depart or be dismissed since the end of the 2014 season.

In the last two seasons, Holt oversaw arguably the Bulls' brightest spots: PK Marvin Kloss and P Mattias Ciabatti. Kloss was a '13 Lou Groza Award finalist and Ciabatti was a '14 first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection.

Holt was nominated for the '13 Broyles Award as the nation's top assistant after the Bulls improved statistically in virtually every special-teams category. 

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Woulard's arrival: Cause for rejoicing or reticence?

Onetime four-star QB prospect Asiantii Woulard elicited both hoopla and hesitation with his announcement he's transferring to USF.

Orlando Sentinel photo

Onetime four-star QB prospect Asiantii Woulard elicited both hoopla and hesitation with his announcement he's transferring to USF.

Many Bulls football constituents awoke this morning to find their latte a bit tastier, their morning commute a bit smoother, and the humidity a bit more bearable.

All for one glaring reason: Their on-again, off-again courtship with Asiantii Woulard appears back on solid ground.

The onetime Bulls commitment confirmed via Twitter on Monday he's transferring from UCLA to USF, where he ultimately could help resuscitate an offense that has floundered in recent years. Woulard, who likely will have to sit out the 2015 season, is expected on campus in July.

For a fan base that has experienced six victories in the last two seasons, the news elicited revelry, with a side of reticence. For all of Woulard's promise, he still hasn't played a down of Division I football. And his commitment level remains in question, justifiably.

In fact, those who ponder the news objectively may find reason to be both captivated and cautious. At the risk of bringing precipitation on USF's parade, we've broken down the pros and cons of Woulard's arrival to Tampa.

The pros
1. Talent. Arguably no other quarterback on USF's current roster displays the dual-threat aptitude of Woulard, a former Elite 11 MVP. While he never panned out at UCLA, he nonetheless was recruited by UCLA, a prominent Power Five program the last time we checked. Based on stories emanating from Los Angeles, Woulard's struggles seemed more mental than physical. No one's doubting the guy can play.

2. Program buzz. For all the Bulls' noble efforts at winning back the fan base, nothing can generate excitement like the arrival of a four-star prospect. Plenty of ifs remain before the '16 season opener, but if Woulard's behind center for that first snap against Towson on Sept. 3, 2016, one must presume a hearty throng will be at Raymond James Stadium watching.

3. Domino effect. Conventional thinking is, if one four-star recruit comes, others will follow. It's precisely how Billy Donovan built Florida's basketball program (see Miller, Mike).

4. Stability. Granted, we're getting way ahead of ourselves here. A full season likely remains before Woulard is even eligible, and the Bulls could shock their skeptics in '15. But let's suppose they show clear progress this season, yet fall just shy of a bowl berth: Does having Woulard in the wings buy Willie Taggart and his renovated offense another year? For those clamoring for a change at the top, be careful what you wish for. A new regime would bring transition, a fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, and certain roster defections. Who's to say Woulard would even stick around?

The cons
1. Commitment in question. As we indicated above, who's to say Woulard remains a Bull if there's a coaching change during or after the '15 season? We're talking about a guy who "committed" to USF twice while in high school before ultimately spurning the Bulls. Remember the mantra our society has forged in the 21st century: When the going gets tough...transfer.

2. Unproven. Bottom line, Woulard hasn't appeared in a Division I game. In two seasons at UCLA, he never got no the field, and was beaten out by Jerry Neuheisel -- not exactly a Heisman candidate -- for the Bruins' backup job two springs ago.

3. Roster upheaval. Let's suppose Woulard ultimately wins the starting job in '16: What does that do to the rest of the depth chart? Will other Bulls QBs transfer? If they do, what happens to the depth behind Woulard?

4. Expectations. Again, Woulard will have to earn the starting job, but if he does, how will he handle the inevitably high expectations that accompany him? As Taggart likes to say, the spotlight does strange things to people. Woulard never has had a collegiate spotlight on him. How will he handle it?

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Nationally heralded QB Asiantii Woulard announces he's transferring to USF

As a four-star recruit from Winter Park High, Asiantii Woulard was ranked the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com and selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

The Orlando Sentinel

As a four-star recruit from Winter Park High, Asiantii Woulard was ranked the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation by ESPN.com and selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Two and a half years after nationally heralded prep QB Asiantii Woulard's turbulent courtship with USF ceased, he has announced his betrothal to the Bulls.

Woulard announced via Twitter on Monday he is transferring from UCLA to USF, to whom he committed twice then ultimately spurned following the dismissal of Skip Holtz. He almost certainly will have to sit out the 2015 season per NCAA transfer guidelines, and will have two years' eligibility therafter.

"I am very familiar with the team already, it's close to home and it's a great situation to come in and compete," Woulard told ESPN's Joe Schad. "USF is a program that has been waiting for something special and I want to help build that.""

USF could have a formal statement on Woulard, expected on campus in July, at some point this week. His arrival would represent arguably the biggest coup of the Willie Taggart era and could radically upgrade one of the Bulls' most unstable positions. …

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Men's hoops: Bulls gain transfer, lose another

The makeover of the USF men's basketball roster continued Sunday with Penn State G Geno Thorpe confirming via Instagram he is transferring to the Bulls program.

Thorpe, who averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 rebounds as a sophomore this past season, likely must sit out next season per NCAA transfer guidelines, with two years of eligibility thereafter.

He becomes the Bulls' second transfer of the offseason, joining former Gonzaga F Angel Nunez, who already is on USF's campus. Nunez, a senior, could be eligible for his final season immediately pending a review by the NCAA. Prompting the review is the fact this would be Nunez's second transfer.

A consensus three-star recruit out of Pittsburgh's Shaler High, the 6-foot-3 Thorpe was a two-time Class 4A first-team all-state selection, averaging 26 points as a senior. According to his Penn State bio, he chose the Nittany Lions over Wisconsin, Pitt, Seton Hall and Kansas State, among others. …

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Recruiting: Banner weekend for Bulls

Like your typical afternoon thunderstorm, many oral commitments come and go briskly this time of year. Hence the reason Bulls fans should probably enjoy the current deluge of verbal pledges while it lasts.

In the last nine days, six rising seniors -- three of them offensive linemen -- have made a non-binding commitment to the Bulls, increasing the program's Class of '16 pledge total to nine.

The latest: Panama City Bay OT Christion Gainer (6-foot-6, 285 pounds) and Lake Gibson OG Michael Wiggs (6-3, 275), both of whom announced via Twitter over the weekend they intend to sign with USF in February.

A week earlier, another Polk County lineman, Ridge Community G Logan MacDonald (6-4, 254), committed to the Bulls. USF's nine pledges are fifth-most among American Athletic Conference schools to this point.

Should Gainer honor his word to Coach Willie Taggart, he'd be considered a steal of sorts. A three-star prospect according to 247Sports, he reportedly has offers from Florida, Miami, FSU and Clemson. ESPN's Derek Tyson reported Gainer only recently indicated Florida was his leader.

Expecting the Gators to back off now would be like expecting a July drought.

Just keep your peeled on the summer pattern, and brace yourself for a possible depression. After all, this is recruiting.

Meantime, here's the list of USF's current pledges:

OLB Paul Dawson, Sebastian River (6-3/205)
OT Christion Gainer, Panama City Bay (6-6/285)
OG Logan MacDonald, Davenport Ridge Community (6-4/254)
RB Elijah Mack, Punta Gorda Charlotte (5-11/195)
CB Armunz Mathews, Tallahassee N. Fla. Chr. (5-11/180)
QB Chris Oladokun, Sickles (6-1/175)
WDE Kordell Slater, Port Charlotte (6-5/250)
ILB Micario Stanley, Cape Coral (6-1/245)
OG Michael Wiggs, Lake Gibson (6-3/275)

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ACL injury sidelines USF's Troy Holston Jr.

USF rising sophomore guard Troy Holston Jr. could miss all or most of the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL.

AP Photo

USF rising sophomore guard Troy Holston Jr. could miss all or most of the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL.

USF rising sophomore SG Troy Holston Jr., arguably the Bulls' top offensive player down the stretch last season, could be sidelined several months after sustaining a torn left ACL during a workout last week.

Russ Wood of Rivals first reported the injury Friday, and the school confirmed it Saturday morning. Holston's setback is the latest in a string of them to besiege the program at the outset of the Antigua era. …

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One-stop shopping: All 11 AAC team previews

Nearly every day over the last three weeks, we've rolled out small previews of each American Athletic Conference football team (except USF). The initial preview (UCF) was presented June 8; the last (Tulsa) was unveiled Tuesday.

Now, for the final touch: Here are all 11 previews, consolidated onto one convenient blog post. Enjoy.

UCF (June 8)

Cincinnati (June 9)

UConn (June 10)

East Carolina (June 11)

Houston (June 12)

Memphis (June 15)

Navy (June 16)

SMU (June 17)

Temple (June 18)

Tulane (June 22)

Tulsa (June 23)  

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Bulls lead AAC in final Director's Cup standings

USF's men's tennis team, led by Coach Matt Hill, was among four Bulls spring sports programs to appear in NCAA postseason competition.

American Athletic Conference photo

USF's men's tennis team, led by Coach Matt Hill, was among four Bulls spring sports programs to appear in NCAA postseason competition.

Buoyed by eight teams represented in the postseason, USF finished first among American Athletic Conference programs in the final 2014-15 Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings released Thursday.

The Director's Cup awards points for each school's finish in up to 20 sports (10 men's, 10 women's) at the Division I level. USF (257.75 points) finished 73rd overall among 347 D-I programs, and fourth among state schools behind Florida (fourth), FSU (11th) and Miami (55th).

The point total and overall finish were the Bulls' best in 15 years, and second-best in program history. A quintet of Power Five programs (Kansas, Pitt, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Washington State) finished below USF in the final standings.

"I am so proud of what our student-athletes, coaches and support staff accomplished this season," athletic director Mark Harlan, who recently wrapped up his first year at USF, said in a university-released statement.

"You can feel the momentum building in USF Athletics and everyone involved believes there is no limit to the great things we can achieve. Frankly, we feel like we left a few points out there, but this is a strong start to where we want to take USF Athletics and the great achievements on the road ahead."

Leading the charge were unprecedented postseason runs by men's golf (NCAA Championships quarterfinals) and men's tennis (Sweet 16). Baseball, women's basketball and women's soccer also reached NCAA Tournament play, with the baseball team earning its first postseason berth in 13 years.

Individually, the men's and women's track teams were represented at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, with triple jumper Matthew O'Neal earning All-America recognition at both (sixth indoor, ninth outdoor).

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Two Bulls bound for South Korea

The upcoming World University Games in South Korea will feature Bulls representation in tandem.

Four-time triple jump All-American Matthew O'Neal, ninth at the recent NCAA Outdoor Championships, will compete for the U.S. in the Games, to be held July 3-14 in Gwangju. He'll be joined by Bulls honorable mention women's basketball All-American Courtney Williams, who made the USA's World University team roster at tryouts in May.

"It’s a great opportunity and blessing to be able to go,” O'Neal told USF's official athletics website. “I’m looking forward to the different culture and time zone we’ll be in. This is my first time going to an Asian country."

Held every two years, the World University Games differs from the Olympics in that it's designed for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The U.S. leads the all-time medal count (1,202) and has won the most golds (456).

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AAC team-by-team preview: Tulsa

Tulsa senior Derrick Alexander, wrapping up USF quarterback Mike White last season, registered 7.5 sacks in 2014.

Tom Gilbert | Tulsa World

Tulsa senior Derrick Alexander, wrapping up USF quarterback Mike White last season, registered 7.5 sacks in 2014.

Tulsa

Coach: Philip Montgomery (first season)

2014 record: 2-10 (2-6 in AAC)

Starters returning/lost: 18/7 (including specialists). The Golden Hurricane return 10 starters from an offense that ranked fifth in the AAC and 56th nationally (412.5 ypg) last season.

Schedule's toughest stretch: Tulsa hosts Memphis on a Friday night (Oct. 23), only six days after a trip to East Carolina. Following shortly thereafter is a three-weekend November gauntlet of UCF (home, Nov. 7), Cincinnati (away, Nov. 14) and Navy (home, Nov. 21).

Summer forecast (where the preseason magazines rank the Owls): ESPN -- fourth in AAC West; The Sporting News -- last; Athlon -- last

Top priority in August: Transitioning to the breakneck-paced offense that arrived with Montgomery from Baylor, and reducing big-play vulnerability on defense. Count junior QB Dane Evans, erratic at best the past two seasons, among those who have warmed up to the new system. Despite stern competition for the starting job, Evans sparkled (18-for-23, 271 yards, three TDs) in the Hurricane's spring game. "I think Dane's night and day from Day One (of spring practice)," Montgomery told the Tulsa World. Defensively, veteran coordinator Bill Young must find answers in the secondary. Torched consistently last season (see Davis, Andre), Tulsa ranked 114th nationally in total defense (486.8 ypg).

One name sure to roll off Mel Kiper's tongue: WR Keevan Lucas. As a sophomore slot receiver last season, Lucas earned second-team all-conference honors (101 catches, 1,219 yards, 11 TDs) and could increase those totals in Montgomery's sleek, spread-type offense.

December plans: No bowl trip, but recruiting momentum after a season of noticeable improvement. Montgomery, a Texas native who spent the past 16 years alongside Art Briles, has the chops and area recruiting connections to resuscitate this program, which won 11 games only three seasons ago.

Audible: "I've never been in a system where I catch the ball and...the next play's already in and I have to run back and look at the (play call)," Lucas to the American Digital Network

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Two false starts later, Woulard may be bound for USF

Onetime USF quarterback prospect Asiantii Woulard is attempting to transfer to the Bulls program after two seasons at UCLA.

Orlando Sentinel photo

Onetime USF quarterback prospect Asiantii Woulard is attempting to transfer to the Bulls program after two seasons at UCLA.

The bizarre, vagabond college career of QB Asiantii Woulard could be coming full-circle.

Woulard, a onetime nationally-heralded USF commitment from Winter Park who has spent the past two seasons at UCLA, has looked into the possibility of transferring to the Bulls program. The news was reported earlier via Twitter by Juco Football Forer.

Woulard has spoken with Bulls coach Willie Taggart, who tried to recruit him upon taking the USF job three Decembers ago. If the transfer goes through, Woulard, selected for the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, would almost certainly have to sit out the 2015 season and would have two years' eligibility remaining.

A text message to Woulard wasn't immediately returned Monday evening. A message on his Twitter account read: I've made no decision. I don't know what's going on.
 …

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Back to the bench? Stan Heath could join BC staff

Former USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath appears set to join Boston College's staff.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Former USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath appears set to join Boston College's staff.

Former USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath's one-year hiatus from the sidelines could be ending.

Though not a done deal, Heath is expected to join Boston College's staff as early as this week. Eagles coach Jim Christian was a member of Heath's staff at Kent State in 2001-02, when the Golden Flashes reached the Elite Eight. When Heath left for Arkansas, Christian became Kent State coach.

Heath and his wife, Ramona, are visiting BC this week.

“When I was with Stan the first time, it was such a great working relationship," Christian told the Boston Globe. “It was almost like a great partnership, so it’s the same thing now."

Heath, 50, coached USF for seven seasons, amassing a 97-130 record and leading the Bulls to a pair of postseason appearances. He was dismissed in March 2014, shortly after USF completed its second consecutive 12-win season, with four years remaining on a deal that paid him a $375,000 annual base salary.

He spent the 2014-15 season as a men's college basketball analyst for ESPN.

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