Monday, January 28, 2013

Taggart reels in another highly touted prospect for USF

Willie Taggart and the USF football program had a bonanza of weekend.

The Bulls head coach picked up his second four-star verbal commitment in a week Sunday when Miami Southridge cornerback Lamar Robbins announced he would sign with USF.

Robbins is a highly sought after commodity, particularly at conerback where he can use his 6-3, 188 pound frame to cover tall receivers and has the size to more than hold his own in the tackling department. He had visited and received offers from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Lousville and Purdue.

It was the Bulls second four star recruit to commit. Taggart, the Manatee High legend, last week convinced Hurricanes four star defensive tackle Derrick Colloway to committ to USF after he had  pledged to Louisville.

Taggart, who took over the program in December, has now garnered both of USF's four star recruits.

Rivals currently has USF's 2013 recruiting class ranked third in the Big East, but the Bulls are only a few points behind second place Rutgers and could surpass the Knights when signing day concludes on February 6th. They could also pass number one Pittsburgh.

Robbins is a welcome addition for a Bulls secondary that allowed 252 yards passing per game last season and had only two inteceptions.

This past weekend, the Bulls also received a verbal commttment from running back Stafon McCray, a 5-11, 196 pound three star recruit from Kissimmee Osecola.

The running back rushed for more than 1,700 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in leading his team to a 13-1 record last season and has amasssed more then 3,200 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns the past two seasons.

Friday, January 25, 2013

On the road back, Dylan Lee signs baseball scholarship after football injury

When the school year began Dylan Lee was set on turning his senior year of baseball into a season that would bring him a Division I scholarship.

The Braden River first baseman/outfielder had put together an impressive career and finished his junior season with a .444 batting average that included a .549 on base percentatege, five triples and two homers and 11 doubles. He holds the school career record for homers with seven and will be one of all time leaders in hits when he walks through the graduation line.

Lee felt so good about baseball being the spring board to his dreams he decided to give up football to avoid an injury problems.

About a week before the season after talking with the football coaches at Braden River, the 6-1, 210 Lee changed his plans and came out for football. He had been an oustanding defensive lineman for the Pirates prior to his senior year.

His worst fears hit him almost immediately. In the pre-season game against Booker he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He had surgery in September and is still undergoing rehab.

Despite the injury, Lee said he has no regrets about playing football.

"I wasn't going to play, but I missed it and decided to play," Lee said. "I have no regrets. I am going to DH at the beginning of the season hopefully for no more than about five games. When I got hurt the doctor said I wouldn't be able to play baseball, but I am able to play."

Those colleges who were looking at him as a baseball prospect said they wanted to take and wait and see attitude according to his father Ian Lee.

St. Johns River State College, a two year school for baseball in Palatka, stuck by him and said he had a standing offer. Lee liked the loyalty shown by the coaches and on Thursday signed  a scholarship The school that plays in the state junior college athletic association formerly known as the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA).

"Even though the coach there knew he was hurt they offered and we appreciated that. It's a full deal with books and tuition," Ian Lee said. "The (Braden River) coaches talked Dylan into playing and then wouldn't you know it he gets hurt the first freaking game. I knew it was going to happen. He is about 85 percent healthy right now."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Tampa Bucs DB coach Ron Cooper joins Taggart at USF

Ron Cooper has left the Tampa Bay Bucs to become Willie Taggart's assistant head coach at the University of South Florida.

Cooper will also coach the USF defensive backs. He was the defensive backs coach for Tampa this past season and served in the same capacity at LSU three years prior. In 2011 he coached Morris Claiborne, the first cornerback selected in last year's NFL draft.

Cooper brings 30 years of coaching experience including two different stints as a defensive coordinator and three as a head coach on the collegiate level.

“Ron Cooper is a valuable addition to our staff,” Taggart said. “His experience will be a huge asset in his role as assistant head coach. In addition, he has recently worked with some of the top secondaries and defensive backs in college football, which will serve us greatly both on the field and in recruiting.”

Cooper spent three seasons (2009-11) as LSU’s secondary coach. Under his tutelage Claiborne and fellow cornerback Patrick Peterson won the Thorpe Award, which goes to best defensive back in college football. Those two along with Tyrann Mathieu were consensus All-Americans 
In 2011, Claiborne (Coaches) and Mathieu (AP) each earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.  Peterson earned SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 before being selected fifth overall in the '10 NFL Draft.
 Cooper was head coach of Louisville ('95-'97). His '95 team led the nation in takeaways and finished No. 9 in the nation in scoring defense. The following season, the Cardinals ranked No. 4 in the country in both total defense and rushing defense.
The Tampa Bay Bucs ranked  last in pass defense in 2012. It was beset with injuries and its two top cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Eric Wright were suspended for four games each because they violated the league's substance abuse policies. Talib was subsequently traded and Wright is not expected to return next season. Their fill-ins were mostly undrafted free agents and late round draft choices that were considered well below NFL standards for cornerbacks.
Cooper earned his bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State in 1983 and later received his master's degree from Appalachian State in 1986. He and his wife, Djuna, have a daughter, Tyler, and two sons, Tristan and Ronald, Jr.

Coaching Experience
1983: Appalachian State (Graduate Assistant)
1984: Minnesota (Graduate Assistant)
1985-86: Austin Peay (Assistant Coach)
1987-88: Murray State (Defensive Coordinator)
1989: East Carolina (Assistant Coach)
1990: UNLV (Defensive Coordinator)
1991-92: Notre Dame (Assistant Head Coach)
1993-94: Eastern Michigan (Head Coach)
1995-97: Louisville (Head Coach)
1998-2001: Alabama A&M (Head Coach)
2002: Wisconsin (Assistant Coach)
2003: Mississippi State (Defensive Coordinator)
2004: South Carolina (Defensive Backs)
2005: South Carolina (Outside Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator)
2006-07: South Carolina (Assistant Head Coach/Secondary)
2008: South Carolina (Safeties)
2009-11: LSU (Secondary)
2012: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Defensive Backs)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Manasota Hoops Classic tips off Saturday at Lakewood Ranch

The second annual Manasota Basketball Classic will be held Saturday at Lakewood Ranch High School. It’s the 23d year Manatee and Sarasota County teams will compete in the event that originally began as the Sarasota County Youth Foundation Classic. Action tips off at 11 am with the Bayshore girls facing Sarasota Christian girls. The final game pits Braden River boys against the Riverview boys.

Taggart hires successful NFL coach as his defensive coordinator at USF

The Willie Taggart-Jim Harbaugh connection helped the new USF head football coach secure a defensive coordinator who has known much success in the NFL.

Chuck Bresnahan is the Bulls new defesnsive coordinator, Taggart announced on Wednesday. The 52 year-old was defensive coordinator for the Oakland Raiders from 2000-03 holding that position when the team reached Super Bowl XXXVII.

Bresnahan also served as defensive coordinator for Cincinnati for three years helping the Bengals capture their first division title in 17 years in 2006. He went to Cincinnati after six successful seasons with Oakland. The Raiders won three straight AFC Western Division titles and played in a Super Bowl with Bresnahan as defensive coordinator.

Taggart has stressed he is always looking for good leadership skills in his coaches and with his experience as a player at the Naval Academy Bresnaham seems to fill that requirement. He was a three year letterman for the Midshpimen where he helped Navy win three Commander-in-Chief Trophies, played in two bowl games and then became a commissioned officer.

Bresnahan has some good football lineage. His father Tom, served in the NFL for 17 years as an offensive line coach and was a member of Marv Levy's Buffalo Bills staff that went to four consecutive Super Bowls.

"I couldn't be more excited about the talent and experience we've added to our defensive staff," Taggart said. "Chuck has coached at  the highest levels and will bring a wealth of knowledge on the defensive side of the ball. His ability to teach the game and mentor our players will be an asset to this football team and I know he'll be a terffic recruiter."

It was through San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh that Taggart was able to connect with Bresnahan.

Harbaugh,who has been a mentor to Taggart, was Oakland's quarterback coach two of the years that Bresnahan served as the Raiders defensive coordinator. They were also together in 1996-97 when Harbaugh was the Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Bresnaham coached the linebackers there.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Southeast girls; Cardinal Mooney boys earn top 10 rankings

The Southeast High girls and Cardinal Mooney boys were the only area teams to earn a spot in the top 10 of their respective classes in the latest FABC-Source Hoops poll released on Tuesday.

Southeast (13-3) is ranked eighth in the Class 5A poll, but getting out of the district is going to be a tough task even for a team as talented as the Seminoles.

Three teams from 5A-12 are ranked in the top 10 in the 5A poll. Along with Southeast, St. Petersburg Lakewood (13-3) is fifth  and Gulfport Boca Ciega (13-5) is ninth.

Southeast defeated Boca Ciegao 55-40 earlier in the year. The Seminoles losses are to state ranked teams: 52-47 to Lakewood; 76-60 to Ft. Myers Dunbar, ranked third in 3A and 58-52 to Leesburg, (#8 in 6A).

Cardinal Mooney (14-1) is ranked 8th in Class 3A. The Cougars have some impressive notches on their belt with victories over Fort Myers (#8 in 6A), Tampa Sickles (#10 in 6A) and Miami Carol City, which is 10th in 8A.

Cardinal Mooney looks to have a good chance of making it out of its region. The Cougars are the highet ranked team in Class 3A-Region 3, two spots head of #10 Community School of Naples (14-3).

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ace Sanders gets 63 yard punt return for TD in Outback Bowl

South Carolina receiver/punt returner Ace Sanders said he wanted to put on a show for home folks in Outback Bowl.

The former Manatee High standout out is on his way with a 63 yard punt return for a touchdown in first quarter against Michigan. It was his second punt return TD of the season.