Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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 starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

FSU starter Josh Ball faces Title IX suspension over dating violence accusation

Florida State starting offensive tackle Josh Ball faces a university suspension after a Title IX investigation found him responsible for dating violence.The suspension came to light in a Facebook post Monday afternoon by Sandra Sellers, an FSU studen...
Published: 05/22/18
Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

Willie Taggart will take more fourth-down chances than Jimbo Fisher. But how many more?

TAMPA — Florida State coach Willie Taggart fielded an interesting question near the end of his Q&A with fans during Sunday's booster stop at Armature Works.Are the Seminoles going to be going for it more on fourth down?"We will be goin...
Published: 05/21/18
Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

Athlon: Florida Gators, FSU and Miami will all finish in top 20

One of the first big nuggets from preseason college football magazines is out: Athlon's top 25.The site considers its rankings a prediction of where teams will be at the end of the year, not the beginning.Alabama and Clemson are 1-2 (no shock). Miami...
Published: 05/21/18
Taggart delivers a bolt to area

Taggart delivers a bolt to area

TAMPA — After spending four years as USF’s football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it’s no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," he sai...
Published: 05/20/18
Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

Willie Taggart: ‘Pretty cool’ to be back in Tampa as FSU coach

TAMPA – After spending four years as USF's football coach, Willie Taggart knows what to expect this time of year in the area, so it's no surprise how he began a chat with reporters Sunday before a booster stop at Armature Works."Go Lightning," ...
Published: 05/20/18
ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

ACC football announces early kickoff times, TV info for FSU, Miami games

The ACC has released some kickoff and TV information for the first three weeks of the season:Week 1 (previously announced)Miami vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas): Sunday, Sept. 2, 7:30 p.m., ABCVirginia Tech at Florida State: Monday, Sept. 3, 8 p.m., ESP...
Published: 05/18/18
Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Why FSU playing Boise State in Jacksonville is a smart risk

Old, unofficial news is expected to become old, official news today with a formal announcement that Florida State and Boise State are kicking off the 2019 season in Jacksonville.  A lot has changed since the schools announced the series (FSU pla...
Published: 05/16/18
FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

FSU-Boise State to open 2019 season in Jacksonville

What had been an open secret for months is now open and shut: Group of Five power Boise State will face FSU at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville in the teams' 2019 opener.A formal announcement is expected Wednesday, but the '19 schedule on Boise's offi...
Published: 05/15/18
RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

RHP Mark Moclair’s versatility proves valuable to University of Tampa

TAMPA — He’s the accidental pitcher who can’t be pigeonholed into a defined role. He’s a well-spoken economics major who morphs into fire-breathing intensity on the mound. And he’s one of the biggest reasons why the University of Tampa Spartans are p...
Published: 05/15/18
Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

Police: Florida Gators recruit Justin Watkins kicked female’s car, broke her phone

One of the Florida Gators' top incoming recruits was released from jail early Wednesday after police allege he kicked a female's car and broke her phone after an argument.Justin Watkins — a four-star athlete from Clermont — and ...
Published: 05/10/18