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.Full Story
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. …
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.Full Story
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. …
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.Full Story
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)
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. …Full Story
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) Full Story
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.Full Story
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).
The upcoming World University Games in South Korea will feature Bulls representation in tandem.Full Story
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).
Tom Gilbert | Tulsa World
Tulsa senior Derrick Alexander, wrapping up USF quarterback Mike White last season, registered 7.5 sacks in 2014.
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
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.Full Story
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.Full Story
Coach: Curtis Johnson (fourth season, 12-25)
2014 record: 3-9 (2-6 in AAC)
Starters returning/lost: 20/8 (including specialists). The Green Wave return nine offensive and seven defensive starters.
Schedule's toughest stretch: October. Tulane's merciless month begins with an Oct. 3 home game against UCF, and continues at Temple (Oct. 10), at home vs. Houston (Oct. 16), at Navy (Oct. 24) and at Memphis (Oct. 31). The Green Wave's first seven Division I opponents were bowl-eligible last season.
Summer forecast (where the preseason magazines rank the Green Wave): ESPN -- fifth in AAC West; The Sporting News -- fifth; Athlon -- fifth
Top priority in August: Offensive improvement. The Wave were greenest at the skill spots in 2014, and it showed. With 6-foot-4 rookie Tanner Lee often more perplexed than proficient, Tulane finished 121st of 125 Division I teams nationally in scoring offense (16.0 ppg) and 107th in total offense (346.8 ypg). Logic suggests Lee (1,962 passing yards, 12 TDs, 14 INTs) and his fellow sophomores, protected by a seasoned line, will progress from their freshman disorientation.
One name sure to roll off Mel Kiper's tongue: CB Parry Nickerson, though we don't expect Kiper to drop his name 'til 2017 at the earliest. A year after surgery for a mysterious knee ailment, Nickerson (5-foot-11, 179 pounds) earned USA Today first-team Freshman All-America honors in 2014, setting a Green Wave freshman record with six interceptions. Two occurred in a 31-24 upset of Houston, one of several quality opponents against whom Nickerson shined.
December plans: Plenty of time for Christmas shopping, barring an autumn of steady over-achieving. While we expect the Green Wave offense to make strides in '15, the schedule's just too daunting. Tulane remains a year away.
Audible: "The efficiency of the offense is so much better. We still have to be efficient with Tanner [Lee]. ... The backs are good. These receivers, Teddy Veal (40 catches in '14) and Terren Encalade (20 catches), are going to be very, very good players for us. The offensive line played well. The tight ends are very good, also. We improved offensively in the spring." -- Johnson following the final day of spring drills
David Swanson | Philadelphia Inquirer
Temple junior Jahad Thomas will try to help improve an Owls run game that struggled mightily in 2014.
Coach: Matt Rhule (third season, 8-16)
2014 record: 6-6 (4-4 in AAC)
Starters returning/lost: 21/5 (including specialists). The Owls return 11 starters on a defense that ranked 24th nationally in yards allowed (347.1 ypg) and fourth in points allowed (17.5 ppg).
Schedule's toughest stretch: While the Owls don't exactly ease their way into 2015 (Sept. 5 vs. Penn State, Sept. 12 at Cincinnati), the real gauntlet occurs in October. In a 15-day span (Oct. 17-31), a trip to East Carolina is sandwiched between home games against UCF and Notre Dame.
Summer forecast (where the preseason magazines rank the Owls): ESPN -- first in AAC East; The Sporting News -- fourth; Athlon -- second
Top priority in August: Preparing this team -- physically and psychologically -- to take the next step. Temple has gone 2-10 and 6-6 in two years of the Rhule era, and appears poised for an even better season this fall. All the components are in place defensively, but Rhule must shore up an offense that ranked 117th nationally (308.4 ypg) in '14 and really struggled to run (107.8 ypg). Additionally, junior QB P.J. Walker must find his freshman groove (20 TDs, eight INTs) after regressing as a sophomore (13 TDs, 15 INTs).
One name sure to roll off Mel Kiper's tongue: OLB Tyler Matakevich. If the NFL drafted on production alone, Matakevich would be the first overall pick in '16. The 6-foot-1, 235-pound senior is the only current Division I player with more than 300 tackles, and can become only the seventh player in major college history with four seasons of 100 or more.
December plans: We feel comfortable in projecting the Owls for bowl eligiblity, but the schedule's too stern to forecast anything bolder. This is the AAC's consummate wild-card team, which is to say, there's a reason the preseason magazines have the Owls finishing anywhere from first to fourth in the East.
Audible: "I don't think we protected P.J. nearly well enough last year and we certainly didn't run the ball well enough to operate at the level where he is not having to win games himself. We will this year." -- Rhule to Philly.com.
OCTAVIO JONES | Times
USF freshman tailback Marlon Mack recorded only the fourth 1,000-yard rushing season in school history.
Courtney Williams just hit another mid-range jumper.Full Story
Otherwise, the 2014-15 USF athletics season has reached its benediction. A year that featured madness in both March (women's hoops) and May (men's golf) is in the books. Over the previous nine months, postseason droughts were exorcised (baseball) and extended (football). Records were shattered (see Williams, Andre Davis), but so too were hopes (see AAC women's soccer final) and even hearts (rest in peace, Nick Wolf).
All part of the normal ebb and flow of a collegiate program. With the school year now formally in our rear view, we reflect on the superlatives and sub-par, the dazzling and disappointing, of 2014-15.
Male Athlete of the Year
Marlon Mack, Football
On a muggy August evening, Mack burst into the Bull nation's consciousness with a program-record-tying 275 rushing yards and four TDs (three of 56 yards or more) in a 36-31 win against Western Carolina. By season's end, he had recorded only the program's fourth 1,000-yard rushing season (1,041) and earned American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year honors. Even in USF's new spread-type system, we expect Mack to remain the resident bellcow.
Female Athlete of the Year
Courtney Williams, Women's Basketball
By the end of next winter, we just might be referring to this AP honorable mention All-American as the greatest player in program lore. Arguably the nation's best spot-up, mid-range shooter (just ask Geno Auriemma), Williams set USF's single-season scoring record (710 points) and led the team in assists (114) while guiding it to its best season ever. Barring injury, she's a lock to finish as the program's No. 2 all-time scorer behind Jessica Dickson (2,402 career points), and join Renee Bellamy as the only Bulls women to finish in the career top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists.
Single-Game Performance of the Year
Hard to argue with Mack's collegiate debut (see above), but we will. Our nod goes to softball senior Karla Claudio, who had a March afternoon that would make Roy Hobbs swoon. In the span of a doubleheader sweep of Tulsa, Claudio sent three Golden Hurricane pitches beyond the left centerfield fence. The first, with one out in the bottom of the seventh of Game One, was a game-tying grand slam. The second, a three-run shot, pulled USF to within a run in the fifth inning of Game Two. The last, with two out and the score tied in the bottom of the seventh, ended the day. Talk about a walk-off, right into USF lore.
Over-Achiever of the Year
Competing all season with a degenerative herniated disc, senior pole vaulter David Shepherd finished 16th at last week's NCAA Championships, earning second-team All-America status. Shepherd, who also has a history of knee problems, cleared 16 feet, 10.75 inches and narrowly missed the ensuing height (17-4.5) that would've eclipsed the 11-year-old school record.
(Most hard-luck team on campus)
While we never pegged the men's basketball team for an NCAA Tournament bracket in Year One of the Orlando Antigua era, we expected more than nine wins. Problem was, the Bulls never could box out attrition. Freshman SG Troy Holston injured his ankle at N.C. State in late November, hampering his progress for weeks. SG Corey Allen Jr. was shut down by the NCAA in late February for receiving impermissible benefits at a previous school. Even C Ruben Guerrero (groin) missed some early action. The back-breaker, however, was the unspecified health issue that sidelined top rebounder Chris Perry the final 13 games. Perry returns next season and is expected to be
stronger. So too, are the Bulls.
Game of the Year
Let's call it the half of the year. Abysmal in the first 30 minutes of their Oct. 18 game at Tulsa, the Bulls rallied from a 20-point halftime deficit for a 38-30 triumph, giving the program its biggest comeback win ever. QB Mike White, who guided the offense to three punts and a fumble in its last four possessions of the first half, guided the Bulls to points on five of their first six possessions in the second. The clincher: a "bubble take-off" in which Tulsa's safety bit on an apparent bubble screen, allowing Andre Davis to sprint behind him for an 85-yard TD reception.
Game of the Year That Nobody Saw
Who could've projected the baseball team's 8-5 win at Illinois in late March would hold such significance two months later? The Illini (50-10-1) ultimately earned the No. 6 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Many believe that victory propelled the Bulls -- one of the last four teams in -- into the 64-team field.
Premiere of the Year
Three coaches made their debuts in 2014-15, but none opened to such raves as baseball coach Mark Kingston. On a frigid February night at Clearwater's Bright House Field, three Bulls right-handers -- led by ace Jimmy Herget -- teamed for a two-hitter in a 2-1 victory against nationally ranked Cal State Fullerton. "To come out here on opening day and go toe-to-toe with them and then come out with a win at the end, very proud of what our guys did tonight," Kingston said.
Of course, if we're talking debut seasons and not games, men's golf coach Steven Bradley, whose team reached the golf version of the Elite Eight, wins by a par-5.
Three things that left us scratching our heads
The women's basketball team not being ranked in the AP poll until the second week in February. ... Levi Borders not getting drafted. ... The uproar (by a segment of the fan base) over Jim Harbaugh appearing at a Bulls one-day football camp.
Coach: Chad Morris (first season)
2014 record: 1-11 (1-7 in AAC)
Starters returning/lost: 15/7. The Mustangs return nine offensive starters, albeit from the nation's second-worst offense (269 ypg).
Schedule's toughest stretch: While no stretch is easy for a team coming off a one-win season, the Mustangs have a pretty merciless non-conference slate, with games against Baylor (home, Sept. 4) and TCU (away, Sept. 19) in a 16-day span.
Summer forecast (where the preseason magazines rank the Mustangs): ESPN -- last in AAC West; The Sporting News -- fourth; Athlon -- fourth
Top priority in August: While priorities are plenteous, most eyes will be on the Mustangs' transition to Morris' no-huddle, no-frills offense (two backs, tight end, running to set up passing). Junior QB Matt Davis, whom Morris recruited while still Clemson's offensive coordinator, remains the starter but desperately needs some ball carriers to emerge. Defensively, SMU, 119th nationally in yards allowed per game (499.4) last season, switches to a 4-2-5 that appears more suitable to its personnel.
One name sure to roll off Mel Kiper's tongue: How 'bout a name Kiper has dropped for a quarter-century -- Deion Sanders. The 5-foot-7 son of the neon one -- Deion Jr. -- won't approach his old man's NFL upside, but he was a second-team All-AAC kick returner last season (20.5 yards per attempt) and had 23 receptions. Look for him to have a higher profile in Morris' high-tempo attack.
December plans: Probably none this year, but Morris, a Texas prep coach for a decade and a half, has recruited well in the Lone Star State and likely will keep doing so. Don't be stunned if the Mustangs are bowling again in 2016.
Audible: "I'll tell you one thing, they're not a 1-11 football team, I know that for a fact. These guys have bought in, they've done a great job for us. They've learned the system; the installs we've put in, they've done a great job of picking those up. ... The thing about it is, in the fall we're gonna add more." -- offensive coordinator Joe Craddock following the Mustangs' spring game
USF's baseball team now officially is in the market for a new Friday night starter and closer.Full Story
Redshirt sophomore reliever Tommy Peterson, drafted in the 12th round by the Washington Nationals early last week, confirmed Monday via Twitter that he has signed with the club. Three days earlier, junior right-handed ace Jimmy Herget announced he has signed with the Reds, who drafted him in the sixth round.
Herget has reported to the Reds' rookie-league affiliate in Billings, Mont. Peterson is at the Nationals' spring training complex in Vieria, but will report to their short-season Single-A affiliate in Auburn, N.Y. by the weekend.
USF's two other 2015 draftees, RHP Casey Mulholland (Dodgers, 37th round) and SS Kyle Teaf (Rays, 30th) were seniors.