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Bulls Beat: Taggart excels at winning over players

TAMPA — As the University of South Florida football program reeled in players, rapid-fire style, on National Signing Day, Bulls coach Willie Taggart sent out his commentary via Twitter.

These weren’t the typical signing day platitudes.

Before the signing of Nick Holman, a linebacker from Madison, Ala., Taggart tweeted: “And I can’t hear the critics talking over the applause.’’

Before the signing of Marlon Mack, a running back from Sarasota Booker, Taggart tweeted: “Somewhere between I want it and I got it.’’

Before the signing of Tajee Fullwood, a cornerback from Tampa Bay Tech, Taggart tweeted: “Hillsborough County! We may not be nothing to y’all, but understand nothin was done for us so we don’t plan on stopping all.’’

Throughout the day, Taggart tweeted the lyrics of Drake, the popular rapper. He decided to do it on the dawn of signing day and it went over big with his players.

Holman: “@CoachTaggart tweeting Drake lyrics was the highlight of signing day.’’

Returning Bulls QB Mike White: “Show me a head coach who tweets Drake lyrics for every recruit on NSD. Who has it better than us … NOBODY!’’

Asked about his attention-getting Drake strategy, Taggart smiled and said, “That’s pretty cool, huh? You didn’t think Coach T had some swag?’’

USF’s 28-player class was ranked a consensus No. 1 in the American Athletic Conference by the recruiting experts. For the Bulls to regain their momentum as a program, recruiting is vital. And a vital part of recruiting is the coach’s ability to relate to young players.

That’s where Taggart excels.

“That’s all of our jobs as coaches to be able to relate to them in different ways,’’ Taggart said. “These kids, they want you to be able to relate to them. We understand what they’re going through. It’s only right that we help them.’’

Football opponents for 2014 announced

The AAC announced its intra-conference opponents Wednesday, giving USF its first home game against the Central Florida Knights since 2007 and its first trip to Tulsa, a new league member.

USF home opponents: UCF, Connecticut, East Carolina, Houston.

USF road opponents: Cincinnati, Memphis, SMU, Tulsa.

Additionally, USF has non-conference home games against N.C. State and Maryland, along with a trip to Wisconsin.

Hot start for tennis

Matt Hill’s men’s tennis team has begun 5-0.

Roberto Cid, a sophomore from the Dominican Republic, has twice been named AAC player of the week. He went 4-0 in last weekend’s matches against No. 54-ranked Texas Tech and No. 60 Miami. Cid is 5-0 in dual-match singles play and 7-1 while including individual play. Cid and Sasha Gozun are 5-0 in doubles.

USF returns to action on Feb. 21-22 against San Diego and South Carolina, both in Columbia, S.C.

Bulls bits

Football assistant coach Raymond Woodie was named the AAC’s top recruiter by 247Sports.com and Rivals.com. … A pair of No. 1-ranked opponents will visit USF this weekend. Saturday, the top-ranked Tennessee softball team faces USF at 4 p.m. Sunday, the top-ranked Connecticut women’s basketball team meets USF at 4 p.m. … Softball ace left-hander Sara Nevins, on everyone’s preseason watch list for national pitcher of the year, emerged from last weekend’s opening tournament at 0-2 with 12 walks in 12 innings pitched. … Men’s basketball coach Stan Heath, who signed Oldsmar Christian’s sharp-shooting Troy Holston last fall, said he will utilize one or two scholarships in the spring, probably for another shooter and perhaps a wing player. … Outgoing USF athletic director Doug Woolard celebrated his 64th birthday on Monday.

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