TAMPA — When USF coach Jim Leavitt met Mary Trump, she was wearing a Miami sweatshirt while working in the office of her father's insurance company.
Leavitt knew exactly why the USF graduate had the Hurricanes gear on, but he still gave her grief about it. After the ensuing conversation, Leavitt told her he had never met a girl who knew more about football than she did. Three months later, Trump had a job with USF football, as recruiting secretary.
On Saturday, the reason for that Miami sweatshirt will have a homecoming of sorts, as Mary's brother A.J., senior starting center for the Hurricanes, will line up against the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium.
"It's a Catch-22," said Mary, 26, in her third season working with the Bulls. "I would support my brother no matter what. But I graduated from USF. I have a lot of roots there. You feel connected. I feel like I can't lose, but if USF wins, I can be a little more jubilant about it."
Leavitt has known the Trump family since before Mary or A.J. were born — their father, Frank, played football at Dixie Hollins High with Leavitt's older brother Rusty.
"I offered him in ninth grade," Leavitt said of A.J., who considered the Bulls but chose Miami, in part from wanting to get an experience away from home. "His dad was a tremendous player and is a great guy. Great family with old Dixie Hollins roots."
Much of that family will be at Raymond James — including A.J. and Mary, 11 of the 12 Trump children will be part of a sellout crowd. "It's amazing," A.J. said Wednesday. "For my last college game to be in my favorite stadium in the world. … I grew up there. I love the Bucs and went to a lot of games there."
A.J. estimates he will have 30 friends and relatives cheering for him, and Mary insists it'll be at least 50. A.J. said he respected the Bulls five years ago when they recruited him, and they've impressed him since then. "I knew they had something special there, but I didn't think they'd blow up like they did," he said.