Breaking Tampa Bay, Florida and national news and weather from Tampa Bay Online and The Tampa Tribune |
  • Home

Football: Sickles OL Hudson switches commitment to USF

Posted Jan 30, 2014 by Nick Williams

Updated Jan 30, 2014 at 04:29 PM

Sickles offensive lineman Zach Hudson, who previously committed to Missouri during the summer, has switched his committment to South Florida.

Hudson, a 6-foot-5, 285 pound three-star prospect, paved the way for the area’s top running back this season and helped the team reach the Class 7A region championship.

Hudson will officially sign his letter of intent to USF on Wednesday, National Signing Day, after school.

No Kloss? It’s baffling

Posted Dec 11, 2013 by Joey Johnston

Updated Dec 11, 2013 at 01:11 PM

The University of South Florida had one member of the All-American Athletic Conference football first team—sophomore DE Aaron Lynch—along with four players on the second team.

But for the Bulls, the most baffling news item on Wednesday was a player who WASN’T included on the All-AAC first or second teams.

Junior place-kicker Marvin Kloss, one of three finalists for the Lou Groza Award that will be presented Thursday night at Disney, was ignored by the AAC coaches. The first-team kicker was Memphis freshman Jake Elliott and the second-teamer was UCF junior Shawn Moffitt.

Elliott was 16-for-18 on field-goal attempts, including a 55-yarder against USF. Moffitt was 20-for-22 on field-goal attempts.

On paper, those statistics might look more impressive than the ones produced by Kloss (18-for-23 on field-goal attempts). But Kloss was 7-for-9 from 40-49 yards and 4-for-7 from 50 yards and beyond, giving him 11 converted field goals from 40 yards and beyond to lead the NATION. He was arguably the Most Valuable Player for the 2-10 Bulls, who managed just 11 offensive touchdowns all season.

USF’s two victories? They were largely made possible by Kloss. USF defeated Cincinnati (26-20) and Connecticut (13-10), becoming the first team since 2002 Notre Dame to win two straight games without scoring an offensive touchdown.

So Kloss has a compelling case for the Groza and certainly for all-conference, where his candidacy should have been a given.

Lynch, a transfer from Notre Dame who was mentioned as a high first-round NFL draft pick before he played a down for USF, led the Bulls with six sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss. He had a couple of monster games, including two sacks and four TFLs in the regular-season finale at Rutgers, but was inconsistent through most of the season.

USF’s second-team All-AAC selections were TE Mike McFarland, RB Marcus Shaw, DT Luke Sager and MLB DeDe Lattimore.

Lattimore had 98 tackles, including 18 at Rutgers, one off USF’s single-game record. Sager produced 11.5 TFLs. Shaw, who missed two full games and most of another with injury, had 765 yards to rank second in the AAC behind UCF’s Storm Johnson. McFarland had 23 receptions to rank second behind junior WR Andre Davis (49).

UCF’s George O’Leary was AAC Coach of the Year. UCF junior quarterback Blake Bortles was the All-AAC first-teamer, while Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, a strong Heisman Trophy candidate in the preseason, was relegated to second team.

USF Women: Weathering The Storm

Posted Nov 18, 2013 by Joey Johnston

Updated Nov 18, 2013 at 10:23 PM

It was about noon local time on Sunday, some three hours until game time. The University of South Florida women’s basketball was watching game film in a meeting room at the Marriott hotel in downtown Peoria, Ill. Then the hotel staff descended.

USF coach Jose Fernandez and his players were told to leave immediately.

“We were moved to the middle of the hotel with the other guests,’’ Fernandez said. “That was the safest place.’‘

The Bulls were caught in tumultuous Midwestern weather—dozens of tornadoes and intense thunderstorms swept through the area—and there were scary moments. The greatest damage occurred in nearby Washington, Ill., where some neighborhoods were wiped out in a matter of seconds.

Once the storm passed, the Bulls maintained a normal schedule and their afternoon game against Bradley University went on as scheduled.

“There was a moment of silence before the game,’’ Fernandez said. “Some employees of the university who were working the game, they just weren’t able to get there. Obviously, there was a lot of concern for what was going on.’‘

The game itself was routine. The Bulls (3-1) defeated Bradley 87-63. Afterward, the team traveled to Chicago and Monday’s return to Tampa was uneventful.

Fernandez will remember the initial moments, when the pregame film session was interrupted and no one was certain about the weather’s severity.

“You could see the water rolling down the streets, the hail, the wind picking up,’’ Fernandez said. “It was just howling. I had never been through a tornado like that before.’‘

As a Floridian, Fernandez had plenty of experience with hurricanes. He was a Miami resident in 1992, when Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida.

“I still remember exactly where I was,’’ Fernandez said. “In the closet. You can’t mess with Mother Nature. We think we’re in control. Moments like that prove to you that we’re not in control.’‘

QB White working overtime

Posted Oct 29, 2013 by Joey Johnston

Updated Oct 29, 2013 at 05:06 PM

Even before he was named starting quarterback at the University of South Florida, true freshman Mike White was considered a student of the game.

Now he is proving it.

USF coach Willie Taggart said he’s impressed with the preparation of White, who leads the Bulls (2-5, 2-1 American Athletic Conference) into Thursday night’s Halloween road game against the Houston Cougars (6-1, 3-0).

“I think he’s a coach now, I’ve seen him around so much,’’ Taggart said. “He wants it. I’m leaving and he’s still here and I’m like, ‘Wow!’ You got to love it. Hopefully it transfers onto the football field. Usually, it does. You put the work in and it does (transfer).’‘

Taggart stopped short of making an unfair comparison, but he said White’s approach reminds him of Andrew Luck. As an assistant coach, Taggart helped recruit Luck to Stanford University for Coach Jim Harbaugh.

“He was the same way as a true freshman, just constantly watching film,’’ Taggart said. “You knew it was only a matter of time before he was going to show everyone what he was capable of doing.

“That’s what it takes to be a big-time quarterback in college football. I’m pretty sure with all those big-name quarterbacks, if you see any similarities, it’s going to be their work ethic. They understand what’s going on and they can adjust to it on the field.’‘

Taggart said he asked White for a couple of his favorite plays from Fort Lauderdale University School, which he led to last season’s Class 3A state title, and they might be in the game plan for Houston. Taggart said he’s not asking White to win the game, but to simply protect the ball, manage the game and let the team itself win the game. He won’t compare anyone to Luck, but the former All-American, now the Indianapolis Colts, is a great example for methods of success.

“If you want (to be) a great one, he’s a prime example of how to be a great one from Day One,’’ Taggart said. “For us, we’d love to have Andrew Luck, but we’re just looking for a little luck.

“We’d like to get there, just a little bit. Not the whole Andrew. Just a little bit.’‘

White will be USF’s fourth starting quarterback this season, along with Matt Floyd, Bobby Eveld and Steven Bench.



Guastella named Citrus Park Christian’s boys basketball coach

Posted Oct 24, 2013 by Kyle LoJacono

Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 01:59 PM

Mike Guastella has been named Citrus Park Christian’s boys basketball coach.
Guastella led the programs at Lakeland Victory Christian and Ormond Beach Calvary Christian from 2008 to 2011, where his teams won three district titles in as many years and posted a combined 68-18 record.
Guastella, who is also the Eagles’ athletic director, is also coaching Citrus Park’s football team on an interim bases after Nathan Galan resigned earlier this month.

Tribune correspondent Kyle LoJacono can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and follow him on Twitter @Kyle_LoJacono.