TAMPA – The University of South Florida football team will head back to head coach Willie Taggart’s roots this Saturday when the Bulls hold an open practice at Manatee High School in Bradenton.
Taggart is opening six Bulls’ spring practices to the public on Fridays and Saturdays through the spring and will take this Saturday’s back to the field where he earned first team all-state honors as a quarterback and guided the Hurricanes to back-to-back 5A state championship game appearances in the early 1990’s.
“I think it is a great opportunity for us to go out and connect with fans from the greater Tampa Bay area," Taggart said. "We need everyone to help us rebuild this, and I hope they will come out and see their team.”
The Bulls’ practice will be held in Hawkins Stadium on the Manatee High School campus and will be open to the public from 2:30-5:00 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free. There will be no concessions, but fans will be allowed to bring in their own water.
Taggart played for current Manatee head coach Joe Kinnan who has guided the Hurricanes to five state championships and three runner-up finishes and was elected to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1999. Taggart helped lead the Hurricanes to the 1992 5A state title as a junior and a return to the 1993 5A state championship game as a senior. Manatee posted a 26-4 record as Taggart recorded more than 3,000 yards passing and 975 yards rushing over that two-year span before going on to great success as a quarterback at Western Kentucky.
Several current Bulls have ties to Bradenton. Saturday will also mark a return to home turf for Bull’s sophomore defensive tackle Derrick Calloway who was a first team Associated Press all-state selection at Manatee and helped lead the Hurricanes to the 2011 state title and three regional championships. Calloway was one of nine true freshmen to see action for the Bulls in 2013, playing in six games.
Senior center Austin Reiter, who has started all 24 games the last two seasons and was on the Rimington Trophy Watch List in 2013, and senior tight end Jake Carlton also hail from Bradenton and attended Lakewood Ranch High School.
The Bulls 2014 signing class includes one player from Manatee High. Michael Galati, a 6-3, 283-pound guard, is expected to be on the USF campus this summer and will join the Bulls’ offensive line unit in the fall.
The USF football team will return to Raymond James Stadium for the annual Spring Game on Saturday, March 29. Kickoff is set for 4:00 p.m. and admission and parking is free. For the 2014 Spring Game, fans will be seated in the west stands so they may enjoy the game from the cool shade of the home sideline. The game can be heard live on 98.7 The Fan with a 30-minute pre-game show starting at 3:30 p.m. More information on the game and events surrounding it will be announced in the coming weeks on GoUSFBulls.com.
The Bulls return 17 starters (10 offense, 5 defense, 2 specialists) for coach Willie Taggart’s second season at the helm, which kicks off on Aug. 30 vs. Western Carolina at Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls 2014 schedule will feature six teams that reached a bowl game last season, with four of those coming to Raymond James.
The 2014 non-conference schedule features home clashes vs. Big Ten foe Maryland (Sept. 6) and ACC opponent N.C. State (Sept. 13) as well as a road game at perennial Big Ten power Wisconsin (Sept. 27). In American Conference action the Bulls will host UCF, Houston and East Carolina, which all competed in bowl games last season, as well as UConn.