Staying home: CB Fullwood latest local commit for USF
Tajee Fullwood's family and friends gathered on his grandmother's front lawn, with dozens of relatives and Tampa Bay Tech teammates taking phone pics until his moment arrived: Donning a USF cap and announcing he was committing to play for the Bulls in 2014, choosing his hometown school over Florida State and Rutgers.
Fullwood, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound cornerback who is rated as a three-star recruit by 247, Rivals and Scout, continues a strong surge of local recruiting in Willie Taggart's first full recruiting class, following quarterback Chase Litton and fellow corners Deiondre Porter and Devin Abraham in the last two weeks.
"I feel like if we can keep everybody in Tampa, we're going to be like Miami in the 80s. Unstoppable," Fullwood said, unveiling a "GREEN MACHINE" T-shirt as he made his announcement. "I feel like Tampa has the best talent in the state of Florida."
Fullwood -- his first name is pronounced tah-GEE -- said he'll technically come in as an athlete, eager to play on both sides of the ball, but he smartly recognizes that 6-2 cornerbacks are much harder to find. He was first offered by USF last fall under coach Skip Holtz, but said he connected better with Taggart and assistants Ron Cooper and Raymond Woodie this spring.
"When I went to Florida State, I liked it a lot. I felt like I was going to commit there. But when I went to USF, I felt something else, something special," he said. "It was based on how I felt around the coaches. I felt way more comfortable with Coach Woodie, Coach Taggart and the rest of the USF coaching staff. ... Coach Holtz, I didn't really pay much attention to him much, but when I went to Coach Taggart, it was totally different. He was more down-to-earth, cool. I could come to USF and talk to him anytime I wanted to."
Fullwood will enroll at USF next year, but his mother, Takeela, is one step ahead of her son -- she's been taking classes at USF part-time and will continue to do so this fall, getting her pre-requisite classes for a degree in dentistry, which she'll complete at another college.
When Fullwood began the recruiting process, he thought he wanted to leave not only Tampa but the state of Florida, but as he got to know USF's program better, he started to embrace the idea of staying home, with that sentiment growing as other local standouts committed to the Bulls.
"I was really thinking about being a hometown hero, doing it for my city," he said. "I feel like I can make a big impact at USF. They're coming in with new coaches, starting something new, and I want to be a part of that."
Asked how firm his commitment to USF is -- if he could change his mind if other schools came in with offers between now and signing day -- Fullwood compared his commitment to another significant bond.
"It's like saying you're married and a beautiful girl comes into the bar. I feel like this is my firm commitment, this is where I really want to be," he said.