Raymond Woodie is not only USF's linebackers coach, he is now the assistant head coach/linebackers coach. Last season saw Ron Cooper as assistant head coach/defensive backs coach; Cooper was let go in December. As assistant head coach, Woodie will be responsible for the team if Head Coach Willie Taggart is absent and will presumably be more involved in decision-making. Woodie came to USF with Taggart in 2013 after the two worked together for three seasons at Western Kentucky. USF linebackers have been pretty solid under Woodie's tutelage, and he is an excellent recruiter. Since most USF players outlast most USF coaches, it makes sense that Taggart would turn to Woodie, one of his most consistent staff members, as assistant head coach.
Jon Haskins has been hired as director of player personnel. Haskins played linebacker at Stanford and spent 1998 and 1999 playing in the NFL for the Chargers and Eagles. Before coming to USF, he was director of player personnel at Nevada for a year and at Florida for two years. In this position, Haskins will be involved with recruiting, facilitating the off-the-field needs of players and coaches, and with ensuring that the team complies with university and NCAA rules.
Taggart has also brought in Joe Kinnan to be the volunteer senior offensive consultant. Kinnan was Taggart's high school coach at Manatee High School in Bradenton, where he coached football for 29 years. Kinnan is not just any high school coach. He has coached and worked with tons of successful players and coaches in the past. Star Nebraska quarterback Tommy Frazier played for Kinnan, as did star Florida kicker Robby Stevenson and star South Carolina receiver Tracy "Ace" Sanders. Danny Hope, former Purdue head coach and USF's new co-offensive coordinator, was one of Kinnan's assistants at Manatee. Kinnan's Manatee Hurricanes won five state championships, including in 1992 when Taggart was the starting quarterback. Kinnan has exchanged ideas over the years with former Nebraska Head Coach (and later Nebraska Congressman) Tom Osborne and with current Auburn Head Coach Gus Malzahn.
Leah Knight left her position as USF's recruiting operations coordinator this week to become assistant director of football operations at Colorado State. There was no recruiting operations coordinator at USF before Knight, and there is no word on her replacement yet.
Player changes include the absence of defensive end Demetrius Hill, who has left for personal reasons, and offensive lineman Zach Hudson, who has apparently decided not to play football anymore. Hill was a JUCO transfer and rising senior who had five tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries last season; Hudson was a redshirt freshman last season. Stanford transfer Reilly Gibbons (OL) was hoping to be able to play this season, but he has been ruled ineligible until 2016.
The coaches are trying out sophomore quarterback Evan Wilson at wide receiver. With five other quarterbacks on the roster, plus Brett Kean coming in this fall, playing receiver may be the only way Wilson gets on the field this year.
Also in player news, D'Ernest Johnson's son, D'Ernest Johnson Jr., was born Monday afternoon.
Meet your Stinger and your Huskie:
My understanding of the new defense is imperfect, but I know that it was brought here by defensive coordinator Tom Allen, and is a 4-2-5. This is a nickel defense that is designed to stop an up-tempo spread attack. The front six includes a nose tackle, a defensive tackle and two ends on the line, backed up by a Mike linebacker, who covers gaps to stop runs or drops into coverage for passes, and a "Stinger" linebacker, who disrupts the offense by blitzing, forcing a rusher outside, or dropping back into pass coverage. Currently, the Bulls' Stinger is Nigel Harris, who had 77 tackles and six forced fumbles last year.
In the 4-2-5 defensive backfield, there are two cornerbacks, two safeties and an extra defensive back known as the "Huskie," which is the guy disrupting things in the backfield. The Huskie may blitz, cover a passing route, or hover near the line of scrimmage waiting to tackle outside rushers. Jamie Byrd is now playing Huskie, and is familiar with the position from his days with the same defensive scheme at TCU. Byrd had 95 tackles and two interceptions last year.