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Friday, Feb 24, 2017
USF Bulls

USF assistants facing daunting task after Holtz firing

TAMPA - While the University of South Florida searches for its new head football coach, the staff of holdover assistants must hold together the Bulls' recruiting class. With Sunday afternoon's firing of Skip Holtz, that job became more difficult. Winter Park High School quarterback Asiantii Woulard, the most valuable player of the Elite 11 Camp last summer, announced he was de-committing from USF – for the second time – although he's keeping the Bulls in the mix. Woulard also had visited N.C. State. Meanwhile, Robinson lineman Bruce Hector (6-foot-2, 270 pounds), who committed to USF with teammate Connor Rafferty earlier this year, said he will likely re-open his recruiting process. Hector had offers from Florida Atlantic, Bowling Green, Ball State, Akron, Buffalo and Wake Forest.
Most of USF's Hillsborough County commitments had sympathy for Holtz. Players also have learned the hard way about the business aspect of college football. "I really, really like Coach Holtz a lot, he's an awesome person and I'm disappointed I'm not going to have the opportunity to be coached by him and be around him more,'' Plant linebacker Mitchell Wright said. "But they always say commit to a school based on the school and not the coaches because coaches change so much. I'm still committed to the school.'' USF athletic director Doug Woolard will insist all recruiting commitments be honored by the Bulls' new coach. "We entered a partnership with those athletes,'' Woolard said. "They verbally committed to us and we verbally committed to them. We're going to hold up our end.'' Jesuit linemen Robby Garcia and Cameron Ruff remain committed to USF, but both said they will keep their options open. "It's (stinks) that the guy I committed to got fired because I formed a good relationship with him and the defensive line coach, who I don't know what will happen to now,'' Garcia said. "I'll probably take some visits now, but I'm not sure yet. This happened pretty fast.'' "Coaches aren't going to be at a school forever, so you have to be prepared for something like this,'' Ruff said. "But if you're committed to the school, you're committed to the program.'' That's the recruiting strategy for USF's assistants. "This is a great university and it has a lot to sell,'' said USF running backs coach Larry Scott, who played for the Bulls. "You don't come to school because of coaches. You come because of the education you get and it's a great place to live. "You don't sell kids on a coach. Of course, you build relationships with them, but you're just an extension, a buffer between the kids and the university.'' Robinson coach Mike DePue said Holtz built great relationships with Hillsborough County's coaches. "One of the very first things Skip did when he got here was he made it a point to come out and visit coaches like me, (Hillsborough head coach) Earl (Garcia) and others to develop very close relationships,'' DePue said. "He wanted to recruit Tampa and made it a point to do so. He's one of the good guys and he and his staff were so proactive. "It's too bad he's leaving. I really thought they would give him another year.''

wward@tampatrib.com jjohnston@tampatrib.com