Thursday, April 19, 2018
Colleges

Marquel Blackwell joins USF staff

TAMPA

From the day Willie Taggart was hired in December, USF football fans have clamored to see former Bulls QB Marquel Blackwell, a graduate assistant on Taggart's Western Kentucky staff last fall, make a homecoming.

Taggart announced Tuesday that Blackwell has been hired as his director of player development, a position that will have recruiting responsibilities and adds a bit of Bulls tradition to Taggart's staff.

"It's awesome," said Blackwell, a program assistant under former coaches Jim Leavitt and Skip Holtz from 2009-11. "I'm excited. It seems like I never leave this place. I've been around for a long time, but I appreciate it."

Blackwell, 33, worked with Taggart's running backs at Western Kentucky, and he has familiar faces at USF, which has five of Taggart's Hilltoppers staff among his eight full-time assistants.

"Last year was a great opportunity for me, being with Coach Taggart and understanding what he's about as a coach," said Blackwell, who holds USF's career records for passing yards (9,108) and passing touchdowns (67). "Being around him, understanding his vision and goals and everything, that will make this transition easy."

The former Dixie Hollins star is excited about assisting USF's recruiting efforts, mining not only his strong local ties in Hillsborough and Pinellas but the network of former Bulls teammates now coaching throughout the state.

"Most of the schools that our guys are at are pretty big schools that produce a lot of prospects," Blackwell said. "I always think this is a special place that does a lot of things. I know (local) kids talk to each other and a lot want to play with each other. Hopefully we can do the things we need to do to keep those guys close to home."

USF also announced the hiring of a director of player personnel, Paul Gonnella, who held the same job on Alabama's national championship staff last season. That move allows former Western Kentucky assistant Stu Holt to be promoted to a full-time assistant as Taggart's special-teams coordinator. Taggart has one assistant opening left, for tight ends and tackles, to replace Larry Scott, who left this week to coach Miami's tight ends.

WHERE IT STARTS: Taggart spent 20 minutes Saturday morning talking with the board of the USF Alumni Association, taking a wide range of questions, such as what his simplest measure of success in his first season would be.

"Going bowling. That should happen here, year in and year out," said Taggart, who is taking over a team that hasn't played in a bowl since 2010. "Our ultimate goal is to win the Big East. That has to be our goal every season. But I want this football team to come together. We can't get any of those things done until we come together as one team."

ROUGH STARTS: To put the softball team's 6-8 start in perspective, the Bulls weren't shut out last season until the 48th game; USF was shut out four games in a row over the weekend, the first time that has happened since 2002. … Even against tough competition, pitching played a huge role in the baseball team's 1-5 start entering Tuesday's game at UCF. The staff ERA was 7.28, and the Bulls have control issues. The team had 14 wild pitches in six games, after totaling 34 in 60 games last year. The Bulls also had hit 16 batters and had more walks (35) than strikeouts (34).

Comments
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18
FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

FSU quarterback Deondre Francois faces marijuana complaint

Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois agreed to a pre-arrest diversion program after police found 17 grams of a cannabis/tobacco blend in his bedroom Thursday afternoon.The Tallahassee Police Department previously received a report of drug activ...
Published: 04/13/18