Willie Taggart

USF welcomes 23 newcomers to the football program

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(Below is USF’s press release on the players added as part of its 2013 recruiting class.)

TAMPA – The University of South Florida is entering the first year of the Willie Taggart era, and will do so with a group of 23 newcomers that cover virtually every position on the field. The Bulls finished off their 2013 recruiting class with 20 signees on Wednesday to go along with two junior college transfers, and one early enrollee, who have been on campus since the start of the spring semester in January.

Of the 23 newest members of the South Florida family, nine reside on the offensive side of the ball, while 14 are project to play defense. In addition, 18 of the newcomers earned all-state honors during their prep careers.

USF quickly utilized the state’s deep talent pool with 18 of the 23 signees hailing from Florida. The Bulls also received signatures from four Georgia players and one from Kansas.

The Bulls class includes six players at the defensive back position and three linebackers. Coach Taggart adds Hassan Childs of Osceola, Nate Godwin of Freedom, Lamar Robbins of Southridge, Torrel Saffold of Butler Community College, Johnny Ward of Colquitt County, and Darius Whitty of First Coast to the DB position. In the linebacker slot, the position will welcome Rahmon Swain of Butler Community College and local standouts Nigel Harris of Hillsborough and Mitchell Wright of Plant High School.

The defensive line will add three Florida natives in defensive tackles Derrick Calloway (Bradenton), Bruce Hector (Tampa) and Deadrin Senat (Immokalee). All three were all-state selctions by The Associated Press as seniors.

Additionally on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls add defensive ends Mike Love of Clearwater (Countryside) and Eric Mayes of Sarasota (Booker).

Offensively, USF welcomes a pair of running backs in Sta’fon McCray (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola) and Darius Tice (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) along with fullback Auggie Sanchez (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast). McCray rushed for 3,248 yards and 42 TDS over his final two seasons while earning first-team 7A all-state honors. Tice posted 1,587 yards during his junior and senior years and picked up all-state honors. Sanchez, whose brother Armando played for the Bulls, saw most of his action on the defensive side of the ball, tallying 298 tackles and 39 sacks.

Wide receiver Zach Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Catholic) also joins the Bulls and will be working with quarterback signee Mike White (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School). White was named the 3A Florida Player of the Year as a senior.

USF welcomes a pair of offensive linemen from Altanta, Ga., in Jeremi Hall and Dominique Threatt, who both played at Tri-Cities High School. Joining the pair on the o-line is Tampa native Cameron Ruff (Jesuit).

Emilio Nadelman, a place-kicker out of Miami, Fla. (Central), has already enrolled at USF and rounds out the Bulls’ 2013 signing class.

LOOK: TCU to wear debut new chrome helmets for game vs. Oklahoma

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As someone loathe to post on the myriad uniform combinations that college football teams toss out there on an almost weekly basis, I have to admit that these are… not bad. At all.

Quite fresh looking, actually.

Ahead of their black-out game against Oklahoma Saturday, TCU unveiled a new chrome helmet that the Horned Frogs will wear against the Sooners.  The helmets feature purple facemasks and a rather large purple horned frog on each side of it.

While all of that stuff, the helmets and uniforms and cleats and gloves and the like, are mainly for the benefit of recruits and current players, I and my particular demographic would have to give it a hearty thumbs up.  Which I’m certain means the world to the football program.

Longtime starting WKU safety likely out for remainder of 2016

TUSCALOOSA, AL - SEPTEMBER 10:  Calvin Ridley #3 of the Alabama Crimson Tide rushes away from Marcus Ward #8 of the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 10, 2016 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Like they have the last couple of weeks, Western Kentucky will have to get used to Marcus Ward not patrolling its defensive secondary on game days.

Ward (pictured, left) injured his knee in Week 2 and has not returned to the playing field.  Unfortunately for the player and the football program, that absence will continue as the safety underwent surgery on the knee, which is expected to sideline him for the remainder of the 2016 season.

This may not be the last of the fourth-year senior in a Hilltopper uniform, though, as Ward has yet to use his redshirt season and would have a medical waiver at his disposal even if he had.  It’s unclear, however, if Ward will return for another season or rather make himself available for the 2017 NFL draft.

Ward has started a total of 31 games since his true freshman season in 2013, including 26 the previous two seasons.  He was named preseason second-team All-Conference USA prior to the start of the 2016 season.

Perhaps more importantly, he was named a semifinalist earlier this month as a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, also known as the Academic Heisman.

No. 10 Washington becomes Pac-12 front-runner after Friday night thrashing of No. 7 Stanford

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Quarterback Keller Chryst #10 of the Stanford Cardinal is hit as he throws by linebacker Connor O'Brien #29 and linebacker Psalm Wooching #28 of the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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All summer long, people wondered why Washington was getting so much preseason love.

After Friday night’s 44-6 thrashing of Stanford in front of a national audience, nobody is wondering anymore about the Huskies.

The sophomore backfield combo of quarterback Jake Browning (210 yards, three touchdowns) and Myles Gaskin (an even 100 yards rushing, two scores) once again powered Washington to a big win, with the offense scoring on all but two full drives on a night where everything went right for the purple and gold.

Defensively is where the Huskies really impressed though. The team swarmed to the ball on every snap, forced two fumbles, racked up eight sacks and kept Stanford under three yards a play for most of the night. The normally reliable Christian McCaffrey was kept in check in remarkable fashion, rushing for just 49 yards on 12 carries.

Just six days after a remarkable comeback win at UCLA, there wasn’t much left in the tank for a Stanford team that was missing two starting cornerbacks and just couldn’t get anything going offensively on the road in a hostile environment. Quarterback Ryan Burns did throw for 151 yards and a touchdown but was under siege most of the night thanks to some shaky play up front from the normally reliable Cardinal offensive line.

The win by Washington certainly establishes Chris Petersen’s team as the Pac-12 favorite — at the very minimum — with a chance to all but punch their ticket to the conference title game next week at Pacific Northwest rival Oregon. If the Huskies continue to look like they did on Friday in Seattle though, a berth in the College Football Playoff is certainly going to be in the cards as well.

No. 10 Washington putting on a show with big first half against No. 7 Stanford

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30:  Head coach David Shaw of the Stanford Cardinal looks on prior to the game against the Washington Huskies on September 30, 2016 at Husky Stadium in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On the first offensive play of the night for Stanford, the Cardinal picked up a first down thanks to a face mask penalty.

It was all downhill from there for the Cardinal.

No. 10 Washington lived up to their high preseason billing on Friday night by manhandling the defending Pac-12 champions in just about every way possible to jump out to a 23-0 halftime lead.

Quarterback Jake Browning threw just three incompletions on his way to 167 yards and two touchdowns and the Huskies looked every bit the part of a top five team in a wild, vintage atmosphere on Montlake. While the offense was impressive, the Washington defense was swarming as well, racking up six sacks in the game so far.

Stanford couldn’t get anything going offensively, averaging just 2.8 yards per play in the first half. Superstar Christian McCaffrey was held mostly in check, with just eight yards receiving and 31 on the ground.

To add injury to the insult of that first half, the Cardinal’s best defender — defensive lineman Solomon Thomas — was injured in the second quarter with a lower leg injury. The team is already without both its starting cornerbacks for the game so it could be a long second half for the visitors.

The game isn’t over yet and there’s plenty of #Pac12AfterDark potential but that was quite a statement made by Chris Petersen’s Huskies in the first half in establishing their credentials for the College Football Playoff.