Marquel Blackwell, who many believe to be the best quarterback in USF history, is returning to the Bulls to work under head coach Willie Taggart.Blackwell was a four-year standout quarterback for USF from 1999-2002 when the program made the leap to I-AA under then head coach Jim Leavitt
The St. Petersburg Dixie Hollins product holds most of the USF career passing records, including touchdowns (67), completions (795), attempts (1,417) and passing yards (9,108) and ranks ninth in career rushing yards (1,235) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (20).
Blackwell served on the Bulls’ coaching staff as a program assistant from 2009-11 and spent last season as a graduate assistant at Western Kentucky under coach Taggart. Prior to his first stint on the USF coaching staff, Blackwell served as the head football coach at Freedom High School in Tampa from 2007-08. He will serve as Director of Player Development.
Taggart has also hired Paul Gonnella, who will serve as the staff’s Director of Player Personnel. Gonnella spent the 2012 season as director of player personnel at Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide sign the nation’s top class. He had the same role at Purdue in 2011 and at Memphis in 2010.
Gonnella has also spent time at Miami, Tennessee and North Carolina in similar roles and capacities .A native of Wakefield, Mass., Gonnella began his career as a coach and has worked with high schools in his home state as well as in Georgia.
Taggart has also moved coach Stu Holt to special teams coordinator. Taggart also announced he was moving Stu Holt into the special-teams coordinator.
Holt has worked with special teams on numerous occasions throughout his coaching career, including stints as the special-teams coordinator at Western Kentucky in 2005 and ’09. In 2005, he helped the Hilltoppers rank fourth in the nation in punt returns.
He helped place-kicker Chris James earn first-team I-AA.org All-Star and all-Gateway honors, after pacing the league with 1.36 field goals and 7.91 points per contest. In addition, Dennis Mitchell was a second-team all-conference choice as a return specialist after finishing sixth nationally in yards per punt return.
In 2009, Holt coached four players that ranked in the top five of Sun Belt Conference statistical categories, including Jeremy Moore and Bobby Rainey, who led the league in punting and all-purpose yardage, respectively. The Hilltoppers kickoff return unit also ranked second in the league.