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Should USF be interested in ex-FSU quarterback Johnson?

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The University of South Florida needs a quarterback in the worst way.

Is De’Andre Johnson that way?

Johnson was recently dismissed from the Florida State football team for punching a woman in a bar, so the first reaction is probably to say no. Johnson is trouble, and South Florida certainly doesn’t need someone else’s. Why not pass and let Johnson go somewhere else? To a Division III school far away? To a junior college.

But Johnson was a four-star recruit who has some ability, and the Bulls have had a hard time finding that sort of talent. So it’s easy to wonder if coach Willie Taggart was paying attention when Johnson was interviewed Monday by former NFL star Michael Strahan.

“I totally should have walked away,” Johnson said. “I am ashamed of that. I’m sorry. I apologize to the lady in the incident, to her family, to my family, to my mother. I know I wasn’t raised that way.”

For Taggart, it would be a tough sell, because people locally are tired of abuse against women. But if Taggart is convinced that Johnson is a decent kid who did an indecent thing, it could be worth pondering.

Perhaps Taggart doesn’t think he needs Johnson because, after all, former UCLA signee Asianti Woulard just announcd his transfer to the Bulls. But under Taggart, the Bulls have gone through several quarterbacks. Of course, Taggart would have to be assured that no further violence would follow Johnson to campus, and perhaps volunteer work would help.

If you were Taggart, would you think a repentant Johnson is worth considering? Or is he too much baggage considering his history?

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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