TAMPA — Given time to reflect on his first spring at USF, coach Willie Taggart said Wednesday that his football players, across the board, need to be busy in the weight room.
"One big thing, we've got to get stronger as a football team," said Taggart, speaking to reporters for the first time since after the spring game April 13. "That's going to be a big emphasis: stronger and faster. That's huge. With what we're going to ask our guys to do, we've got to get stronger."
Taggart said he was pleased with the overall level of understanding and progress in terms of players learning a new offense and defense, but he said in watching video of practices and scrimmages, his players aren't physically where he needs them to be. The offensive line, he said, is "by no means where we need to be from a physicality standpoint, but we're headed in the right direction."
"You look at the numbers in the weight room, (and) you see where it shows up on film," Taggart said. "Our guys give great effort, and it gives you a chance. You just say, 'If they were a lot stronger with that effort, we'd be a lot better.' You can make big strides (in a summer). You're not going to get all to where you want to be, but you can get better than where you're at."
In early January, USF brought in a former Stanford colleague of Taggart's, Hans Straub, as strength coach, and Taggart and other coaches have already praised the strength staff for the work done this spring.
UF lineman to transfer
GAINESVILLE — Florida offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker, suspended since being charged with grand theft in January after getting pulled over while driving a motor scooter that had been reported stolen, will transfer, coach Will Muschamp said.
Dunker's attorney said the redshirt freshman, a top recruit out of Boynton Beach, paid for the scooter and was not aware it was stolen. The case is pending.
Playoff logo vote: The College Football Playoff's online voting in its logo contest has been manipulated by a cyber-ballot stuffer. BCS officials said an IP address in Austin, Texas, cast 50,251 for one of the four logos. Officials say the extra votes will be eliminated. The winner will be revealed Monday.
Returns, exits: Louisville guard Russ Smith announced he is staying for his senior season to chase another NCAA title and hopes to become his family's first college graduate. … Syracuse's C.J. Fair, the team's leading scorer and rebounder, will return for his senior season. … Indiana guard Maurice Creek will graduate next week but hopes to play next season at another school in order to get more minutes. NCAA rules allow graduate students to play without having to sit out for a season. No destination was announced. … Southern California 7-foot center Dewayne Dedmon said he will leave school a season early to enter the NBA draft.
Women's Tennis: Florida senior Lauren Embree was named SEC player of the year for a record third time, and Roland Thornqvist was named coach of the year for the fourth time in his 11 years with the Gators. Junior Alexandra Cercone of Seminole made the All-SEC second team.
Times staff writer Antonya English and Times wires contributed to this report.