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USF’s huge July recruiting haul will bring dividends

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With the start of fall practice, the University of South Florida Bulls are looking forward to this season. Some key components, led by quarterback Quinton Flowers and running back Marlon Mack, provide good reason for optimism.

Football programs are always looking to build long-term stability based on recruiting. As the month of July began, Coach Willie Taggart had to be apprehensive about who would be following Flowers, Mack and others after they moved on.

Just two weeks ago, USF had precisely one commitment, receiver Jernard Phillips, for the 2017 recruiting class. Phillips committed in April, but as of July 19, no one had followed him to Tampa.

That changed dramatically in the month of July as Taggart received 12 commitments over the final 12 days of the month. The class was topped off when four-star athlete Bruce Judson of Cocoa Beach chose the Bulls over the college football elite programs that had expressed interest.

In a piece called “Winners, Losers from the College Football Recruiting Trail for the Month of July,” Bleacher Report calls USF a big winner. In fact, they said USF had the best month of all.

“Few schools, from the Power Five powerhouse to college football cellar-dwellers, can claim a month like the one South Florida had,” wrote National Recruiting Analyst Damon Sales.

The Bulls’ recruiting success is all the more remarkable after losing defensive coordinator Tom Allen and receivers coach Ron Dugans since last season. In fact, new defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie is the fifth to hold the position in the last six years.

All 13 USF commitments hail from the state of Florida, a big priority for Taggart. As of today, USF’s recruiting class for 2017 ranks 49th nationally according to While not on par with the classes of Ohio State, Alabama and Florida’s Big Three, it is a good spot for a mid-major conference.

The 2016 class had two four-star and 14 three-star players, who are now set to begin their college careers in a few days. The Bulls are expected to be in the mix for the East Division title in the American Athletic Conference Championship.

Taggart hopes that will be a true statement for years to come.


Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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