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USF Football: Media Day 2016


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USF
 

Bulls Embrace Expectations at Media Day

August 10, 2016
By  USF
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By TOM ZEBOLD

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA, AUG. 10, 2016 – The buzz around USF Football is back in the Bay Area in a big way and it was apparent at the Bulls’ media day on Wednesday.

A fleet of reporters filled the Sun Dome Arena Club to ask head coach Willie Taggart, members of his staff and veteran players about the highly anticipated season ahead.

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The most asked question was how USF is dealing with lofty expectations and lots of hype after the Bulls’ resurgence in 2015. USF won seven of its final eight games of the regular season and shattered program records on the way to the Miami Beach Bowl, the program’s first postseason appearance in five years.

“We’re going to embrace those expectations because that’s what our guys came here for,” Taggart said. “They wanted to make it where USF had high expectations.”

USF was picked to win the American Athletic Conference East Division after going 5-0 in the East last season. Offensively, USF returns 93 percent of its yardage producers from last season and seven of the top nine tacklers from 2015 have returned on defense.

“Do I think this team can win a conference championship? Absolutely, but we’ve got to do the things it takes to win a conference championship,” Taggart said.

“I think nobody’s expectations are as high as ours,” linebacker Auggie Sanchez added. “We want to do it for USF.”

College football experts also have great expectations for USF’s personnel with a program record of seven players – five on offense, two on defense – named to 11 national award preseason watch lists. Senior receiver Rodney Adams is on the watch list for the Biletnikoff Award and said the Bulls under the spotlight are keeping everything in the right perspective. Check out Bulls on watch lists HERE.

“Those are individual awards, but we couldn’t have done it without the whole offense, without the whole team,” Adams said. “Even though those are individual awards, they’re also team awards.”

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The buzz around the Bulls also is apparent on campus, where students are sharing their excitement about the season with the players that put on the pads. Several students made it out to the first three days of training camp that were open to the public and rooting for the Bulls has carried over to classrooms and cafeterias.

“They’re starting to be more proactive with everything that’s going on,” Adams said.  “They’re just as jacked up as we are. They’re ready for the season and we’re ready for the season.”

Despite all the positive vibes, players know preseason praise means nothing once the 2016 season kicks off. Senior safety Nate Godwin promises the Bulls will be ready for the season opener at home against Towson on Sept. 3 and beyond.

“People are patting our backs, and we do appreciate it, but we’re still going to go hard and we want more,” he said. “We’re not satisfied at all. We will be the hungriest team on the field.”

Built By the Bay

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Linebacker Auggie Sanchez (St. Petersburg) and safety Nate Godwin (Tampa) used part of media day to talk about how proud they are that so many Bay Area players are staying close to home to play for USF.

“When Coach Taggart came in, he kind of laid this imprint that he wanted to win the Bay, win the guys around here, and I think he’s done that,” Sanchez said. “It’s nice to see because we’ve got a lot of talent around here.”

USF’s current roster features 43 players from the Bay Area from the seven counties within the region. USF had 18 of those players on its depth chart heading into fall camp. Twelve of those players were listed as starters, including running back Marlon Mack (Sarasota), top receiver Adams (St. Petersburg) and safety/punt returner Tajee Fullwood (Tampa).

“Everything I envisioned for our football program is starting to happen for us now. When we recruited those kids when we came here, we talked about keeping kids here in the Bay,” Taggart said. “That was important to do that and slowly but surely we were able to do that and continue that. I think we’re seeing a change with our football program because of it.”

Legree Out With Knee Injury

One of USF’s deepest positions on the offense will be without the services of senior receiver A.J. Legree because of an injury.

“A.J. tore his ACL last (week). It was kind of a freak incident with no contact or anything, just running a route," Taggart said. "His foot got stuck in the ground and he tore it, I hate it. He had a heckuva spring and had a really, really good summer. We were expected big things from A.J."

Taggart said USF will attempt to get a medical redshirt for Legree, who capped off an impressive spring with seven catches for 73 yards in the spring game.

“If anybody will fight back and make it through it, it’s A.J. Legree,” Taggart said.

Bulls Bits

- USF’s productive offseason paid off Tuesday, when the well-conditioned team went through the first two-a-day of fall camp. Taggart flipped the script on the Bulls by surprising them with a scrimmage in the evening and players were up for the grueling task. “We had a little sudden change. Line up and let’s play football,” Taggart said. “It went well. We were really excited about our guys. I loved the energy.” Learn more about the summer conditioning program and the Bulls’ strength and weight gains HERE.

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- Position battles in fall camp have made every outing a must-see practice and Taggart has been excited to watch Brett Kean and Asiantii Woulard compete for the No. 2 QB spot. “I’m loving that part of it, that’s been awesome. I think we’ve got ourselves something here at the quarterback position,” Taggart said. Taggart also noted freshman Chris Oladokun (Tampa) has shown a plethora of potential. “He’s smart, very instinctive. He understands the game,” Taggart said.

- Meet players and coaches from all of USF’s 19 athletic teams at Fan Fest that’s set for Saturday, Aug. 27 at the Sun Dome. The fun-filled event will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and it’s free to the public. Learn more HERE.

 

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