Slowly but surely, Willie Taggart is piecing together his first coaching staff at USF. And, not so surprisingly, he’s reaching back to his old staff to do it.
USF announced Thursday evening that Taggart has hired Walt Wells and Nick Sheridan to his Bulls offensive staff. The former will serve as Taggart’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, the latter as quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator.
Both coaches were members of coach Taggart’s staff at Western Kentucky and will remain with the Hilltoppers through WKU’s bowl game.
“Walt Wells and Nick Sheridan are great teachers and great mentors,” Taggart said. “Both played a critical role in building the foundation at WKU. They understand the way we will run our offensive system and our program.”
Wells had spent the past 10 seasons at WKU, while Sheridan continues his meteoric rise up the coaching ladder.
Sheridan played quarterback at Michigan from 2006-09 and graduated from UM in 2010 before embarking on his coaching career at the high school level. After just one season at his alma mater — Saline High School in Saline, Mich. — Sheridan joined Taggart at WKU in the spring of 2011 as an offensive grad assistant. He was promoted to quarterbacks coach and passing-game coordinator a year later, and has now moved on from high school to the Sun Belt to the Big East in just three short years.
Wells and Sheridan join Raymond Woodie (defensive assistant) and Larry Scott (offensive assistant) as members of Taggart’s initial staff. Woodie was also a member of WKU’s 2012 staff, while Scott is the lone holdover from the Skip Holtz era.
The opening of the Big Ten’s Media Days Monday brought some welcome news for Rutgers fans.
One of the most explosive and productive players in the conference, Janarion Grant went down with a serious-looking ankle injury — at the end of a 76-yard touchdown — late in the first half of a Week 4 game against Iowa that ultimately ended the wide receiver’s 2016 season. Grant was in non-contact mode this past spring, leading some to wonder whether he’d be available for summer camp or even the start of the upcoming season.
Yesterday, Chris Ash put any such fears to rest by declaring Grant completely recovered less than two weeks ahead of the start of camp.
“He’s 100 percent… He’s had a great summer,” the head coach said according to nj.com. “He was limited through the spring semester, but this summer he’s been pretty much full go for the majority of the summer. He looks great, he’s in great shape, he’s put weight back on. We’re obviously excited to have him back.”
At the time of the injury, Grant led the Scarlet Knights with 15 receptions and was second on the team with 143 yards rushing. His 562 all-purpose yards were tops in the Big Ten entering Week 4 play last year.
He had six touchdowns in those three-plus games and did it in a quartet of ways — rushing (three), punt return (one), kick return (one) and passing (one).
Suffice to say, Grant was named as part of the Hornung Award watch list earlier this month. He’s on the watch list for the prestigious Maxwell Award as well.
In a day packed full of Big Ten moves becoming official, Ohio State has added a roster move of its own.
Urban Meyer revealed at the conference’s media gathering in Chicago on Monday that defensive lineman Darius Slade will not return to the team.
A 3-star recruit out of Montclair, N.J., Slade (42) redshirted in 2014 and missed the ’16 campaign with a lower leg injury. He racked up seven appearances in 2015.
Slade was expected to back up Sam Hubbard at defensive end.
Meyer said that he “thinks” Slade is off to Arizona State. If that’s true, Slade would have two years of eligibility to play as a Sun Devil unless the NCAA approved a waive for him.
Indiana running back Camion Patrick and linebacker T.J. Simmons will not return to the team this fall after being granted medical hardships, the program announced Monday. Both players would be fifth-year seniors in 2017.
Simmons appeared in 37 games with 35 starts before suffering a season-ending injury that knocked him out of the 2016 campaign entirely. He collected 213 tackles, six sacks, 16.5 TFLs, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery as a Hoosier. Simmons will remain with the program as a student assistant.
“T.J. was a three-year starter and a tough kid that I was looking forward to coaching,” head coach Tom Allen said in a statement. “He did everything that he could to get himself back from his knee injury, but he was unable to reach a place where he could consistently play. T.J. is excited about his new role as a student assistant coach in the weight room and on the field. He will be helping his teammates get better. T.J. has such a passion for the game and this program, and I am thrilled to have him help us breakthrough.”
Patrick arrived from East Mississippi Community College — of Last Chance U. fame — and proceeded to sustain injuries to his ACL and a shoulder. He caught six passes for 154 yards with one receiving touchdown and one rushing score for Indiana.
“Unfortunately, Camion dealt with multiple injuries during his time at IU and was never able to fully recover,” Allen said. “He has worked hard in the classroom. Camion has battled to get back following each injury, but his body has let him down. He recognizes that. We recognize that, and we want to help him finish strong in the classroom and help him create a bright future for himself.”
Joey Julius was everyone’s favorite kickoff specialist last season. Sadly, he won’t be your favorite kickoff specialist in 2017.
At Big Ten media days on Monday, the Nittany Lions unveiled their 2017 roster and Julius was not on it.
Listed at 5-foot-10, 258 pounds, Julius announced in May he would seek treatment for an eating disorder.
“I have been struggling over the last couple months with my eating disorder,” he announced at the time. “It got to the point where I had to return to St. Louis to seek further treatment at the McCallum place. Recovery is a wonderful and beautiful thing that I am working on returning too.”
Julius handled 93 kickoffs for the 2016 Big Ten champions, averaging 62.1 yards per kick with 45 touchbacks. His kickoff average ranked 47th nationally, and his 48.4 touchback percentage was 40th in FBS. Julius made 10-of-12 field goals and 20-of-24 extra points in 2015 before ceding the job to Tyler Davis last season.