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Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Joey Knight

A fourth-generation Floridian, Joey Knight was born in Tampa and raised in Zephyrhills, where he still resides. He moved to the Times in July 2006 after 15 years at the Tampa Tribune, which included a seven-year stint (1997-2004) as University of Florida beat writer. He began covering the University of South Florida athletic department for the Times in 2013. A married father of three, he enjoys running, classic television and classic heavy-metal music.

Phone: (813) 310-6328


  1. Report: Stu Holt headed to Appalachian State


    USF had not responded Tuesday evening to a Sports Illustrated report that Bulls tight ends/special teams coach Stu Holt has left the program and will join the staff at Appalachian State.

    The report, citing an anonymous source, indicated the Mountaineers -- members of the Sun Belt Conference -- have a vacancy at running backs coach. Holt is a Hamptonville, N.C., native and former University of North Carolina long-snapper.

    USF begins preseason drills Aug. 6. If the report is accurate, Holt would become the fifth Bulls assistant to depart or be dismissed since the end of the 2014 season.

    In the last two seasons, Holt oversaw arguably the Bulls' brightest spots: PK Marvin Kloss and P Mattias Ciabatti. Kloss was a '13 Lou Groza Award finalist and Ciabatti was a '14 first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection....

  2. Woulard's arrival: Cause for rejoicing or reticence?


    Many Bulls football constituents awoke this morning to find their latte a bit tastier, their morning commute a bit smoother, and the humidity a bit more bearable.

    All for one glaring reason: Their on-again, off-again courtship with Asiantii Woulard appears back on solid ground.

    The onetime Bulls commitment confirmed via Twitter on Monday he's transferring from UCLA to USF, where he ultimately could help resuscitate an offense that has floundered in recent years. Woulard, who likely will have to sit out the 2015 season, is expected on campus in July.

    For a fan base that has experienced six victories in the last two seasons, the news elicited revelry, with a side of reticence. For all of Woulard's promise, he still hasn't played a down of Division I football. And his commitment level remains in question, justifiably.

    In fact, those who ponder the news objectively may find reason to be both captivated and cautious. At the risk of bringing precipitation on USF's parade, we've broken down the pros and cons of Woulard's arrival to Tampa.

    The pros
    1. Talent. Arguably no other quarterback on USF's current roster displays the dual-threat aptitude of Woulard, a former Elite 11 MVP. While he never panned out at UCLA, he nonetheless was recruited by UCLA, a prominent Power Five program the last time we checked. Based on stories emanating from Los Angeles, Woulard's struggles seemed more mental than physical. No one's doubting the guy can play.

    2. Program buzz. For all the Bulls' noble efforts at winning back the fan base, nothing can generate excitement like the arrival of a four-star prospect. Plenty of ifs remain before the '16 season opener, but if Woulard's behind center for that first snap against Towson on Sept. 3, 2016, one must presume a hearty throng will be at Raymond James Stadium watching.

    3. Domino effect. Conventional thinking is, if one four-star recruit comes, others will follow. It's precisely how Billy Donovan built Florida's basketball program (see Miller, Mike).

    4. Stability. Granted, we're getting way ahead of ourselves here. A full season likely remains before Woulard is even eligible, and the Bulls could shock their skeptics in '15. But let's suppose they show clear progress this season, yet fall just shy of a bowl berth: Does having Woulard in the wings buy Willie Taggart and his renovated offense another year? For those clamoring for a change at the top, be careful what you wish for. A new regime would bring transition, a fourth offensive coordinator in as many years, and certain roster defections. Who's to say Woulard would even stick around?

    The cons
    1. Commitment in question. As we indicated above, who's to say Woulard remains a Bull if there's a coaching change during or after the '15 season? We're talking about a guy who "committed" to USF twice while in high school before ultimately spurning the Bulls. Remember the mantra our society has forged in the 21st century: When the going gets tough...transfer.

    2. Unproven. Bottom line, Woulard hasn't appeared in a Division I game. In two seasons at UCLA, he never got no the field, and was beaten out by Jerry Neuheisel -- not exactly a Heisman candidate -- for the Bruins' backup job two springs ago.

    3. Roster upheaval. Let's suppose Woulard ultimately wins the starting job in '16: What does that do to the rest of the depth chart? Will other Bulls QBs transfer? If they do, what happens to the depth behind Woulard?

    4. Expectations. Again, Woulard will have to earn the starting job, but if he does, how will he handle the inevitably high expectations that accompany him? As Taggart likes to say, the spotlight does strange things to people. Woulard never has had a collegiate spotlight on him. How will he handle it?...

    Onetime four-star QB prospect Asiantii Woulard elicited both hoopla and hesitation with his announcement he's transferring to USF.
  3. USF Bulls finally land QB Asiantii Woulard


    TAMPA — Two-and-a-half years after nationally heralded high school quarterback Asiantii Woulard's turbulent courtship with USF ceased, he has announced his betrothal to the Bulls.

    Woulard said via Twitter on Monday that he is transferring from UCLA to USF, to whom he orally committed twice then ultimately spurned after the dismissal of Skip Holtz. He likely will have to sit out this season per NCAA transfer guidelines and will have two years' eligibility remaining....

    Asiantii Woulard likely will have to sit out this season per NCAA guidelines and will have two years’ eligibility left.
  4. Nationally heralded QB Asiantii Woulard announces he's transferring to USF


    Two and a half years after nationally heralded prep QB Asiantii Woulard's turbulent courtship with USF ceased, he has announced his betrothal to the Bulls.

    Woulard announced via Twitter on Monday he is transferring from UCLA to USF, to whom he committed twice then ultimately spurned following the dismissal of Skip Holtz. He almost certainly will have to sit out the 2015 season per NCAA transfer guidelines, and will have two years' eligibility therafter.

    "I am very familiar with the team already, it's close to home and it's a great situation to come in and compete," Woulard told ESPN's Joe Schad. "USF is a program that has been waiting for something special and I want to help build that.""

    USF could have a formal statement on Woulard, expected on campus in July, at some point this week. His arrival would represent arguably the biggest coup of the Willie Taggart era and could radically upgrade one of the Bulls' most unstable positions....

    As a four-star recruit from Winter Park High, Asiantii Woulard was ranked the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation by and selected for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
  5. Men's hoops: Bulls gain transfer, lose another


    The makeover of the USF men's basketball roster continued Sunday with Penn State G Geno Thorpe confirming via Instagram he is transferring to the Bulls program.

    Thorpe, who averaged 8.7 points and 2.6 rebounds as a sophomore this past season, likely must sit out next season per NCAA transfer guidelines, with two years of eligibility thereafter.

    He becomes the Bulls' second transfer of the offseason, joining former Gonzaga F Angel Nunez, who already is on USF's campus. Nunez, a senior, could be eligible for his final season immediately pending a review by the NCAA. Prompting the review is the fact this would be Nunez's second transfer.

    A consensus three-star recruit out of Pittsburgh's Shaler High, the 6-foot-3 Thorpe was a two-time Class 4A first-team all-state selection, averaging 26 points as a senior. According to his Penn State bio, he chose the Nittany Lions over Wisconsin, Pitt, Seton Hall and Kansas State, among others....

  6. Recruiting: Banner weekend for Bulls


    Like your typical afternoon thunderstorm, many oral commitments come and go briskly this time of year. Hence the reason Bulls fans should probably enjoy the current deluge of verbal pledges while it lasts.

    In the last nine days, six rising seniors -- three of them offensive linemen -- have made a non-binding commitment to the Bulls, increasing the program's Class of '16 pledge total to nine.

    The latest: Panama City Bay OT Christion Gainer (6-foot-6, 285 pounds) and Lake Gibson OG Michael Wiggs (6-3, 275), both of whom announced via Twitter over the weekend they intend to sign with USF in February.

    A week earlier, another Polk County lineman, Ridge Community G Logan MacDonald (6-4, 254), committed to the Bulls. USF's nine pledges are fifth-most among American Athletic Conference schools to this point.

    Should Gainer honor his word to Coach Willie Taggart, he'd be considered a steal of sorts. A three-star prospect according to 247Sports, he reportedly has offers from Florida, Miami, FSU and Clemson. ESPN's Derek Tyson reported Gainer only recently indicated Florida was his leader.

    Expecting the Gators to back off now would be like expecting a July drought.

    Just keep your peeled on the summer pattern, and brace yourself for a possible depression. After all, this is recruiting.

    Meantime, here's the list of USF's current pledges:

    OLB Paul Dawson, Sebastian River (6-3/205)
    OT Christion Gainer, Panama City Bay (6-6/285)
    OG Logan MacDonald, Davenport Ridge Community (6-4/254)
    RB Elijah Mack, Punta Gorda Charlotte (5-11/195)
    CB Armunz Mathews, Tallahassee N. Fla. Chr. (5-11/180)
    QB Chris Oladokun, Sickles (6-1/175)
    WDE Kordell Slater, Port Charlotte (6-5/250)
    ILB Micario Stanley, Cape Coral (6-1/245)
    OG Michael Wiggs, Lake Gibson (6-3/275)


  7. Rays-Indians preview

    The Heater

    Rays vs. Indians

    When/where: 7:10 tonight; Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Sun Sports; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tickets: $7-$200, available at Tropicana Field box office, Ticketmaster,, team Tampa store; $3 surcharge within five hours of game time

    Probable pitchers

    RAYS: RH Nathan Karns (4-3, 3.28)

    INDIANS: RH Cody Anderson (0-0, 0.00)...

  8. Grady Sizemore makes good first impression on Rays

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Less than two weeks after signing 32-year-old Grady Sizemore to a minor-league deal, the Rays inserted the three-time All-Star into the No. 2 spot as the DH on Sunday.

    Whether the move represents a career resuscitation or cameo for Sizemore, whose career has been derailed by back and knee surgeries, remains to be seen. But if he can replicate Sunday's effort — 3-for-5, double, RBI — the former scenario could prevail....

    Grady Sizemore goes 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI as the Rays’ DH.
  9. Chris Archer gives up three homers, Rays fall to Red Sox (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — In a season of mostly staggering pitching lines, Chris Archer had a screwy one Sunday.

    Six innings, 10 strikeouts, one walk, three home runs.

    For the first time in his career, Archer gave up the long ball in triplicate in a single game in the Rays' 5-3 loss to the Red Sox before a Tropicana Field crowd of 21,963.

    "I thought Arch was really good," said Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose club (42-35) has dropped four of six on its current homestand and now is in a virtual tie for first place in the American League East with the Orioles. "The home run just kind of beat us up a little bit."...

    Tampa Bay Rays starter Chris Archer, center, wipes his face as teammate Evan Longoria, right, watches Boston Red Sox's Alejandro De Aza, left, round the bases after on a solo home run during the second inning of a baseball game Sunday, June 28, 2015, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius) SPD105
  10. Red Sox go deep on Archer, top Rays


    ST. PETERSBURG – In a season of mostly staggering pitching lines, Chris Archer had a screwy one Sunday.

    Six innings pitched, 10 strikeouts, one walk, three home runs.

    For the first time in his career, Archer gave up the long ball in triplicate in a single game in the Rays' 5-3 loss to the Red Sox (34-43) before a Tropicana Field crowd of 21,963.

    The three home runs equaled the total Archer had allowed in his previous 10 starts. He also gave up two home runs in an inning for the first time, surrendering solo blasts to Pablo Sandoval (left field) and Alejandro De Aza (right center) in the second....

  11. For starters, Red Sox vs. Rays, 1:10 p.m.


    Today's Rays lineup vs. the Red Sox

    Asdruabal Cabrera, SS
    Grady Sizemore, DH
    Evan Longoria, 3B
    David DeJesus, LF
    Logan Forsythe, 2B
    Steven Souza Jr., RF
    Marc Krauss, 1B
    Brandon Guyer, CF
    Rene Rivera, C

    Chris Archer, P (9-4, 2.01)

    ...and the Red Sox

    Mookie Betts, CF
    Brock Holt, 2B
    Xander Bogaerts, SS
    David Ortiz, DH
    Pablo Sandoval, 3B
    Mike Napoli, 1B
    Alejandro De Aza, LF
    Blake Swihart, C
    Jackie Bradley Jr., RF

    Justin Masterson, P (2-2, 6.37)

  12. ACL injury sidelines USF's Troy Holston Jr.


    USF rising sophomore SG Troy Holston Jr., arguably the Bulls' top offensive player down the stretch last season, could be sidelined several months after sustaining a torn left ACL during a workout last week.

    Russ Wood of Rivals first reported the injury Friday, and the school confirmed it Saturday morning. Holston's setback is the latest in a string of them to besiege the program at the outset of the Antigua era....

    USF rising sophomore guard Troy Holston Jr. could miss all or most of the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL.
  13. One-stop shopping: All 11 AAC team previews


    Nearly every day over the last three weeks, we've rolled out small previews of each American Athletic Conference football team (except USF). The initial preview (UCF) was presented June 8; the last (Tulsa) was unveiled Tuesday.

    Now, for the final touch: Here are all 11 previews, consolidated onto one convenient blog post. Enjoy.

    UCF (June 8)...

  14. Bulls lead AAC in final Director's Cup standings


    Buoyed by eight teams represented in the postseason, USF finished first among American Athletic Conference programs in the final 2014-15 Learfield Sports Director's Cup standings released Thursday.

    The Director's Cup awards points for each school's finish in up to 20 sports (10 men's, 10 women's) at the Division I level. USF (257.75 points) finished 73rd overall among 347 D-I programs, and fourth among state schools behind Florida (fourth), FSU (11th) and Miami (55th).

    The point total and overall finish were the Bulls' best in 15 years, and second-best in program history. A quintet of Power Five programs (Kansas, Pitt, Wake Forest, Rutgers, Washington State) finished below USF in the final standings.

    "I am so proud of what our student-athletes, coaches and support staff accomplished this season," athletic director Mark Harlan, who recently wrapped up his first year at USF, said in a university-released statement.

    "You can feel the momentum building in USF Athletics and everyone involved believes there is no limit to the great things we can achieve. Frankly, we feel like we left a few points out there, but this is a strong start to where we want to take USF Athletics and the great achievements on the road ahead."

    Leading the charge were unprecedented postseason runs by men's golf (NCAA Championships quarterfinals) and men's tennis (Sweet 16). Baseball, women's basketball and women's soccer also reached NCAA Tournament play, with the baseball team earning its first postseason berth in 13 years.

    Individually, the men's and women's track teams were represented at both the NCAA indoor and outdoor meets, with triple jumper Matthew O'Neal earning All-America recognition at both (sixth indoor, ninth outdoor)....

    USF's men's tennis team, led by Coach Matt Hill, was among four Bulls spring sports programs to appear in NCAA postseason competition.
  15. Two Bulls bound for South Korea


    The upcoming World University Games in South Korea will feature Bulls representation in tandem.

    Four-time triple jump All-American Matthew O'Neal, ninth at the recent NCAA Outdoor Championships, will compete for the U.S. in the Games, to be held July 3-14 in Gwangju. He'll be joined by Bulls honorable mention women's basketball All-American Courtney Williams, who made the USA's World University team roster at tryouts in May.

    "It’s a great opportunity and blessing to be able to go,” O'Neal told USF's official athletics website. “I’m looking forward to the different culture and time zone we’ll be in. This is my first time going to an Asian country."

    Held every two years, the World University Games differs from the Olympics in that it's designed for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The U.S. leads the all-time medal count (1,202) and has won the most golds (456)....