Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Colleges

With USF Bulls next, Charlie Strong brings Florida connections as Louisville Cardinals coach

TAMPA — Charlie Strong left the state of Florida three years ago when the former Gators defensive coordinator became Louisville's head coach. In many ways, he took a big part of the state with him.

As No. 16 Louisville prepares to play host to USF on Saturday, the Sunshine State has arguably a greater presence on the field for the Cardinals than the Bluegrass State. Star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is from Miami, and seven of his top nine targets for passes are from Florida, as are four of Louisville's top six tacklers. In all, you'll find twice as many players from Florida (27) on the offensive and defensive two-deep depth chart than from Kentucky (13).

Most Big East programs recruit Florida heavily, but few have the connections that Louisville has in the state — Strong had three stints in Gainesville and was defensive coordinator on the Gators' 2006 and 2008 national championships, and three of his current assistants were with him on Urban Meyer's staff. Recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt, who recruits the Miami area, played for the Hurricanes and was a top recruiter there before Strong grabbed him; receivers coach Ron Dugans, who recruits the Panhandle, played at Florida State; and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary was born in Apopka.

"It's about relationships. We have enough coaches on this staff that have recruited the state of Florida. We've been able to go down and find the guys that are key to our program," Strong said Monday. "It's all about getting the right fit. You look at our quarterback, our free safety (leading tackler Calvin Pryor), at numerous players within this program from the state of Florida, we've had that success, and it's easier to go back and recruit because of the success those players are enjoying right now."

That group enjoys a pair of Tampa-area players — junior George Durant out of Boca Ciega High has started three of the past four games at strongside linebacker and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss, while junior Kamran Joyer of Wesley Chapel, who signed with USF in 2009 but was not initially accepted into school, made his first career start for the Cardinals last week at left guard.

With 34 players from Florida on the roster and a head-to-head showdown on the schedule every year, Louisville is one of USF's biggest out-of-state recruiting rivals, so Saturday's outcome could play a role in signing day in February.

"We go up against (them) quite a bit," said USF coach Skip Holtz, whose team won at Louisville in 2010 and is hoping to end a four-game losing streak this season. "You hear their name quite a bit in recruiting, as we're battling for a lot of the same players. A lot of the players that are here were also recruited by Louisville. You get every school in the Big East coming down here but … probably Louisville is one of the bigger ones, yes."

The biggest recruiting battle­ground might be in Miami, where the Cards have Bridgewater and 14 others, including receiver Eli Rogers. Some of USF's top signees have come from Miami, including cornerbacks Kayvon Webster and George Baker and defensive tackles Elkino Watson and Todd Chandler.

"They have a strong presence. They put a lot of coaches in the area," said USF assistant Larry Scott, who has also found recruiting success in the Miami area. "They do a really good job of saturating it, which makes you really have to get in there and dig in also and be competitive. It's a healthy competition. We see each other all the time. It's kind of a rubbing of the shoulders when we walk by, but they're a bunch of good guys and they work hard. So do we down there. We get a guy on campus, they get a guy on campus and then you see what happens."

Comments
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Published: 12/10/17
Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield wins Heisman Trophy

NEW YORK — Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy on Saturday night, completing a climb from walk-on to one of the most accomplished players in the history of college football. Mayfield won a lopsided vote to become the sixth Okla...
Published: 12/09/17
Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

Could Jim Harbaugh soon be known as Willie Taggart’s buddy?

TAMPA — His team was in Ann Arbor, practicing. He was signing footballs in Tampa.Yet another Jim Harbaugh fun fact."I can’t be in two places at once," Harbaugh said.Not that Harbaugh wouldn’t try it if he could. College football’s firestarter, its bi...
Published: 12/08/17

Gasparilla Bowl journal: Temple’s Collins speaks highly of former boss, new Gator Mullen

ST. PETE BEACH — If anyone has an accurate read on how new coach Dan Mullen will fare at Florida, it’s Temple’s Geoff Collins.Collins worked under Mullen as a Mississippi State assistant from 2011-14. He jumped from there to Gainesville, where he spe...
Published: 12/07/17
No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

No. 5 Florida Gators lose stunner at home to Loyola-Chicago

GAINESVILLE — Aundre Jackson scored 23, Cameron Krutwig added 14 and Loyola-Chicago stunned No. 5 Florida 63-59 Wednesday, handing the Gators a third consecutive loss. Less than 48 hours after Florida coach Mike White said his team’s performance agai...
Published: 12/06/17
Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

Twitter propels man toward dream of becoming bloomin' onion at Outback Bowl

No matter what happens on the field at the Outback Bowl in Tampa, the star of the show will be the bloomin’ onion. Not the deliciously crispy, glistening, 1,900-plus-calorie appetizer served at Outback restaurants, but the person who parades t...
Published: 12/06/17
Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

Indiana hoops transplant perfectly at home in Tampa

TAMPA — Back home in Indiana, he was basketball royalty. He played in his first league at age 2. He lived — and loved — the hardwood life. He was accustomed to performing before more than 10,000 fans for his big games.Pat Bacon capped his storied pre...
Published: 12/06/17
Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

Offensive guru Heupel is named UCF coach

UCF hired Missouri offensive coordinator Josh Heupel as football coach.Heupel quickly hired former UF interim coach Randy Shannon as defensive coordinator.Heupel, 39, was a consensus All-American quarterback who led Oklahoma to the 2000 national titl...
Published: 12/05/17
At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

At Hall of Fame induction, Steve Spurrier and Peyton Manning share respect

NEW YORK — After the class picture of the latest Hall of Fame inductees was taken, Peyton Manning made his way over to Steve Spurrier for another handshake and some chit-chat before heading off in opposite directions to do media interviews. The forme...
Published: 12/05/17
FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

FSU upsets No. 5 Florida, its fourth straight win over Gators

GAINESVILLE — Terance Mann scored 25, CJ Walker added 17 and Florida State upset No. 5 Florida 83-66 on Monday night to remain undefeated. The Seminoles (7-0) also extended their winning streak against the Gators (5-2) to four, their longest in the 6...
Published: 12/04/17