Taggart’s new team
National Signing Day brings in 23 recruits
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 01:02
Coach Willie Taggart was pleased with the 23 new recruits he and his staff welcomed on their first Signing Day with the Bulls in the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center on Wednesday.
“This is a recruiting class that can help us. Guys will have the opportunity to come in and compete,” Taggart said. “We got some really good talent. More importantly, we got guys that want to be here and be a part of this program.”
The 23 new names that will be added to the roster offered a glimpse of what to expect from the Bulls, following a
3-9 season that left fans wanting more.
The new class of athletes includes players from all over the field, mostly on the defensive side of the ball.
“Defense wins championships,” Taggart said. “We have to have a great defense if we want to build the program like we want to.”
USF recruited six players at the defensive back position, three linebackers, three defensive tackles and two at defensive end.
Among those defensive players is defensive tackle Derrick Calloway.
The 6-foot-1, 310 pound Florida native, who was expected to commit to Louisville, will join the Bulls from Manatee High School — the same high school Taggart graduated from. While Taggart shared a bond with him, Calloway’s athleticism as a third-team all-state defensive tackle spoke for itself during the recruiting process, Taggart said.
Calloway helped lead his high school to a 2011 state title and three regional titles made for a good resume builder as well.
“A guy that can play at his level can help this program out,” Taggart said. “Our coaches did a great job in recruiting him.”
Another highlight for the Bulls’ defense, who dominated the 2013 recruiting class, is defensive back Lamar Robbins. Standing at 6-foot-3, Robbins brings size to USF’s secondary. Rivals.com ranked the defensive back 32nd in the nation.
“He’s a talented young man that can do a lot of different things,” Taggart said. “We want him to come in and be the best defensive back he can be. He is one of those young men that will come in and compete, he’s just very competitive.”
Taggart’s addition of Robbins to the defense could be what USF needs. Last season, the Bulls had two interceptions total, one being by a defensive tackle — a trend Taggart said he will not accept.
“We had two interceptions last year,” Taggart said. “That can’t happen.”
But Taggart is an offense-minded coach, and USF recruited eight players that will compete for a starting spot on the offense.
One of the big departures in Bulls football from last season was B.J. Daniels.
And while junior Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld are favored with their experience on the field, Taggart spoke highly of Mike White, a new quarterback addition who will get the chance to battle for snaps this offseason.
“In a quarterback you look for a leader, a winner. Our offensive scheme is complex so you have to be smart. You have to be a gym rat, but you also have to be able to throw the football and not turn it over,” Taggart said. “Mike can do all those things and I think he’s going to be a great football player for us one day.”
White, at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, was named 3A Florida Player of the Year as a senior and was explosive on the field.
As a senior in Fort Lauderdale, White threw for 2,201 yards with 22 touchdowns and two interceptions and led his team to a 13-0 record, capped with a 3A state championship. Though each of the athletes bring a decorated high school career, the question of “Whether fans will see these names starting on the field?” still remains.
Taggart welcomes that curiosity, with a simple mindset — they will have to compete.
“They’re all going to have the opportunity to come in and take someone’s job,” Taggart said. “It’s going to be highly competitive— highly.”
But as anticipation builds before spring training, along with it comes excitement from Taggart as USF enters a new era in its football program.
“Everybody is excited,” he said. “Since I came here everyone has been fired up about a new Bulls football team and they got me fired up too.”