What you missed: Mack leaves, coaching changes, Laksa scores 37

New USF coach Charlie Strong announced two additions to his 2017 staff Sunday. ORACLE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

Since students left campus for winter break, much has changed when it comes to USF Athletics. Beginning with the departure of former USF football coach Willie Taggart, USF changed coaches for its football, men’s soccer and men’s basketball teams over the holidays.

Aside from shaking up a few of its coaching staffs, several noteworthy moments happened at USF that students likely missed in the midst of catching up with family and taking a break from thinking about school. 


Mack Leaves for NFL


Following a season in which he scored 15 touchdowns and helped lead USF football to 11 wins for the first time in school history, junior running back Marlon Mack announced Thursday that he’s decided to pursue a career in the NFL rather than returning for his senior season. 

Mack, who finishes his USF career as the school’s all-time rushing leader (3,609 yards), announced his decision on Twitter on Thursday morning. 

“This decision was not easy, but after weeks of contemplating… I’ve decided to declare for the NFL Draft,” Mack wrote on Twitter. 

Replacing Mack as USF’s lead back will be senior running back D’Ernest Johnson, who ran for 569 yards and eight touchdowns on 111 carries while also adding 28 receptions for 293 yards and five touchdowns.


Women’s Basketball remains ranked 


Even with most students taking a break at home for the holidays, it was business as usual for the USF women’s basketball team, as the No. 22 Bulls became nationally ranked thanks to a 7-1 record over the break. 

Led by the play of AAC Freshman of the Year Kitija Laksa (21.6 points per game), USF is off to a near-perfect 13-1 start. The Bulls’ lone defeat of the season came at the hands of Long Beach State in a 73-68 finish in the opening game of the Play4Kay Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

After losing the all-time program leaders in scoring and rebounding in Courtney Williams and Alisia Jenkins this offseason, USF hasn’t missed a beat the Bulls are off to their best start since they began the 2008-09 season 13-1. 


USF solidifies two more coaches


With USF football’s season now behind it, the Bulls have been hard at work overhauling the coaching staff following the departure of former coach Willie Taggart. 

Replacing Raymond Woodie as defensive coordinator will be Brian Jean-Mary, who has coached linebackers for new coach Charlie Strong for the past seven seasons. 

Jean-Mary also served as Strong’s recruiting coordinator at Texas, assembling the No. 7 (2015) and No. 8 (2016) recruiting classes in the country in the past two seasons, as ranked by scout.com.

Along with Jean-Mary, USF also announced the hiring of Charlie Williams as the school’s new wide receivers coach. 

Williams coached wide receivers for the Indianapolis Colts from 2012-14 before coaching running backs for the team in 2015 and then eventually joining Strong’s staff at Texas as his receivers coach. 

Prior to coaching in Indianapolis, Williams helped mold NFL players Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster as the receivers coach at the University of North Carolina from 2007-11. 

Jean-Mary and Williams join a Bulls staff that has seen a new coach at every staff position going forward for 2017. 

Also coming to USF from Texas includes offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sterlin Gilbert and offensive line coach Matt Mattox. 

Reports from 247sports.com indicate FAU assistant Corey Bell will work as USF’s defensive backs coach for 2017. 

Bell served as the University of Miami’s Director of Football Operations from 2007-10 before coaching Miami’s American Senior High for three years and then becoming a secondary coach with FAU in 2014.