TAMPA — The University of South Florida football team got a surprise visitor to its morning practice — Super Bowl-winning coach John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, who was in town for Thursday night’s NFL preseason game against the Bucs at Raymond James Stadium.
“It’s not every day that you get to hear from a Super Bowl champion,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart told his players.
Taggart played quarterback at Western Kentucky University for Jack Harbaugh, the family patriarch. Taggart also served on the staff at Stanford for head coach Jim Harbaugh, his mentor and John’s brother.
“We’re so proud of Willie Taggart,’’ Harbaugh said. “Willie is like a brother to me. People refer to Willie as the third son in the Harbaugh family. He’s more like the first son.”
Harbaugh spent a few moments addressing the USF players.
He asked players what they knew about the history of USF’s program. A few correctly detailed the program’s infancy, when it began in Division I-AA and worked out of trailers.
“This place has come a long way,’’ Harbaugh said. “It started the same time as some of you were born. The birth of this program is like the birth of you.
“The question I have for you now is this: What are you going to be known for. This program has grown to the point where it can stand alongside Florida, Florida State and Miami. It can achieve great things.’’
The pads are on
After three days in helmets and shorts, USF brought together its freshmen and upperclassmen, while also working out for the first time in shoulder pads.
“Let’s see who can play with a little physicality,’’ Taggart said. “Football is a physical sport. Some guys who were All-American without pads might not necessarily be All-American when you put on the pads. Courage upon impact is very important in football and not all people have that.’’
You’d think sophomore TE Sean Price, who saw his role increase in last season’s second half, would be looking to build upon his 21-catch freshman year. But to him, 2012 no longer exists.
“I don’t think about last season,’’ Price said. “This is my freshman year now. New coach, new beginning, so I just want to start fresh. Turn the page. I’ve moved on.’’