South Florida needed to hire a head coach that would restore the program’s appeal to recruits in the talent-rich Tampa Bay area and energize a fan base that had clearly given up in the final weeks of the Skip Holtz era.
They couldn’t have made a much better choice than Willie Taggart.
Taggart was born in Palmetto, Fla., less than a half hour from Tampa and he was a star quarterback for Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee in the early 1990s. In three years at Western Kentucky he has established himself as a solid recruiter in west central Florida.
It’s his reputation as a recruiter and a time coaching at Stanford and Western Kentucky that have South Florida fans and local recruits excited about his arrival.
Quarterback Asiantii Woulard (Winter Park, Fla./Winter Park) who has committed and decommitted from South Florida on two occasions, said through Twitter he was "excited" to see what Taggart has planned for USF.
While re-securing Woulard’s commitment will be a top priority for Taggart and his staff, it likely they will also try to make a splash at the running back position. While running backs coach at Stanford, Taggart had the opportunity coach and develop Toby Gerhart into a Doak Walker Award winner and Heisman finalist.
The top undecided running backs in the state are ESPN 150 prospects Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) and former Miami commit Alex Collins (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation). Don’t be surprised if both players receive special attention from South Florida as early as Monday and Taggart touts his time with Stanford and the Bulls' thin depth chart.
But make no mistake about it: Taggart will primarily focus on the Tampa Bay area from Hillsborough County to neighboring cities Lakeland, St. Petersburg, Bradenton and Sarasota. The talent is there to build South Florida into the program it was supposed to become under Holtz.