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Bulls Beat: Louisville football has strong Florida presence

TAMPA - The University of South Florida's football team has an annual Big East Conference game against Louisville – the latest clash with the No. 16-ranked Cardinals is Saturday afternoon at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium – but the pursuit of Florida-based recruits is ongoing between the two programs. In addition to the high-profile presence of Florida, Florida State and Miami, the Bulls (2-4, 0-2) must fend off Louisville (6-0, 1-0) for players. The Cardinals have 34 players from Florida high schools, including nine starters and 13 more listed on the two-deep roster. One of those is sophomore QB Teddy Bridgewater of Miami Northwestern, who strongly considered USF, but no doubt preferred the early playing time of Louisville since the Bulls already had B.J. Daniels. "More than anything, it (recruiting) is about relationships,'' said Louisville coach Charlie Strong, who recruited Miami during his days as the University of Florida's defensive coordinator. "We've been able to go down there and find the guys who are key to our program.''
Florida players at Louisville are nothing new. The Cardinals have signed former luminaries such as Deon Booker, Ernest Givins, Jay Gruden, Browning Nagle, J.R. Russell and Ted Washington from the Tampa area alone. "There's a lot of people who recruit this state that we go up against, but you hear their name quite a bit,'' USF coach Skip Holtz said. "We battle them for a lot of the same players. A lot of the players who are here were recruited by Louisville.'' Familiarity is the rule. "It's no friendships, no nothing, just football,'' said USF sophomore defensive tackle Todd Chandler, who is facing four of his former Miami Northwestern teammates. "They have on different jerseys now. We're not really worried about the guys over there. Coach Holtz said it's USF vs. team seven.'' Basketball recruiting Byron "Bo'' Zeigler, a 6-foot-6, 180-pound wing from Detroit Community School, committed to USF following Friday's Bulls Basketball HoopLa event. Zeigler also had offers from Indiana, Iowa and Dayton. Stan Heath's men's basketball recruiting class, which could make it official when the early signing period opens on Nov. 14, includes center John Egbunu (7-0, 220), who transferred to Fort Walton Beach High from McDonough, Ga., and his high-school teammate, point guard Drew Davis (6-0, 180); power forward Chris Perry (6-8, 245) of Bartow and the coach's son, point guard Josh Heath (6-2, 165) of Tampa Prep. Egbunu is ranked 70th and Perry 94th in ESPN's list of top 100 national players. Bulls bits USF's women's tennis team hosts the USTA/ITA Southeast Regional Championships, one of 12 sites nationally, on Friday through Monday at the Varsity Tennis Courts. …Courtney Draper's volleyball team (12-9, 4-4 Big East) can surpass last season's victory total by defeating Connecticut at home on Friday night at 7. Erin Fairs was named Big East freshman of the week after USF beat Villanova and Georgetown last weekend. …Denise Schilte-Brown's women's soccer team (10-4-2), unbeaten in its last six games, clinched a home game in the Big East tournament quarterfinals on Oct. 28. The Bulls finish the regular season at Marquette on Saturday night.

jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353 Twitter: JJohnstonTrib

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