Why Isaiah Bolden flipping from FSU to Willie Taggart's Oregon could shift local recruiting
It's not a surprise that news Oregon coach Willie Taggart is recruiting the talent-rich Tampa Bay area.
He did it at USF; his signing classes in 2015 and 2016 each featured four players from Hillsborough/Pinellas (even if at least one prominent local high school coach thought he should have signed more).
But Taggart seemed to turn a corner this weekend when Wesley Chapel cornerback Isaiah Bolden flipped from Florida State to the Ducks.
Granted, Taggart had already been recruiting Florida in his new school. Seven of Oregon's 24 signees in February's class were from Florida. That includes defensive lineman Jordon Scott, a one-time Gators commit from Pinellas Park, and Armwood athlete Darrian McNeal, who switched from Arizona soon after Taggart was hired.
Scott was a well-regarded recruit, but his early high school graduation sped up the process and led to some extenuating circumstances. McNeal had several in-state offers (including USF and UCF) but none from Florida, FSU or Miami.
Bolden had offers from all three. And that's why his commitment to Taggart seems different.
Scott and McNeal were both three-star prospects. Both ranked outside the top 800 nationally. Bolden? He's a four-star recruit and the nation's No. 167 prospect. He would have been a huge get for the Ducks, regardless of where he's from. Nonetheless, the fact that Taggart came into Florida and plucked him away from the Seminoles - a team he had been committed to since June - is significant. He's the type of top-tier local talent Taggart never got at USF. In fact, the Bulls never signed a player ranked higher than Bolden under Taggart.
Let's pause here for the standard recruiting disclaimers. Oral commitments are non-binding until recruits sign letters of intent. Things change. FSU's 2018 class has two cornerbacks rated higher than Bolden, so other factors could be in play. A commitment here or there doesn't necessarily mean a trend.
But Taggart appears to be building a bridge from Tampa Bay to Eugene, or at least trying to do so. Jefferson three-star athlete Jermaine Eskridge said last month that the Ducks were in his final three. Wiregrass Ranch four-star cornerback Jordan Miner is considering Oregon, too.
Add in Bolden's flip, and it looks like the local recruiting scene is starting to shift northwest.