Though the on-field product has been woefully lackluster during the Willie Taggart era at South Florida, there’s no disputing the success that he’s had on the recruiting trail.
Since his arrival prior to the 2013 season, Taggart has consistently put together stellar recruiting classes that have ranked at or near the top of the AAC every year. In fact, his 2013 and 2014 classes were the top ranked in the conference, and his 2015 class was ranked behind only Cincinnati in the AAC.
Taggart has brought in recruits such as athlete Lamar Robbins, defensive tackle Derrick Calloway, quarterback Quinton Flowers, running back D’Ernest Johnson, cornerback Kendall Sawyer, offensive tackle Glen Bethel, defensive end Danny Thomas and safety Khalid McGee.
And while it’s still relatively early in the 2016 recruiting cycle, Taggart and his coaching staff are once again finding success on the recruiting trail.
The Bulls have gotten commitments from 10 prospects (all of whom are from Florida) so far: outside linebacker Paul Dawson, inside linebacker Micario Stanley, cornerbacks Josh Dunn and Armunz Mathews, tackle Christion Gainer, quarterback Chris Oladokun, defensive end Kordell Slater, running back Elijah Mack and guards Michael Wiggs and Logan MacDonald.
With eight three-star recruits and a pair of two-star prospects, USF currently boasts the fourth-best recruiting class in the AAC and the 63rd-best class in the country according to 247Sports.
Some of these commits have been bigger surprises than others, such as Gainer, who had offers on the table from major programs like Florida, Miami, Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State and Clemson. Yet the Panama City native spurned each of these high-profile offers and chose to verbally commit to play for the Bulls.
Stanley is another example of a player who turned down offers from bigger schools in favor of South Florida. The Cape Coral standout has caught the eye of Louisville and several other programs, but he chose to go with the school that was the first extend him a scholarship offer.
Of course, verbal commitments don’t lock a player to a program, and other schools will continue to try and persuade them to renege on their verbal until the recruiting cycle has been completed and a letter of intent has been signed. USF will obviously add plenty of more players between now and National Signing Day, but they could lose a few whom they currently have verbal commitments from as well.
De-commitments could certainly come into play depending on how this season shakes out for the Bulls. USF has gone just 6-18 in Taggart’s first two years at the helm, and there’s no question that he enters 2015 squarely on the hot seat. Anything less than a bowl game could spell the end of his time in Tampa.
If history is a guide, it’s a safe bet that Taggart and his coaching staff will once again compile a recruiting class that is among the best in the AAC. The bad news for the USF head coach is that if he doesn’t start producing results with the talent he’s brought to the program in a hurry, the school might decide to bring in someone else to try instead.