Hillsborough football throwing weight behind Strong, USF

By Lindsay Liquori, Spectrum Sports
Last Updated: Thursday, June 29, 2017, 5:36 PM EDT

A flux of local football players are leaving the Bay Area for the West Coast.

Since December, five Tampa Bay recruits (Warren Thompson, Isaiah Bolden, Jonathan King, Darrian McNeal and Jordon Scott) have followed Willie Taggart to Oregon.

“Forget Oregon,” said Hillsborough head coach Earl Garcia.  “It’s a sexy choice right now.”

Keeping homegrown talent home.

It’s now up to, first year Bulls coach, Charlie Strong to repair the small puncture in that pipeline and he says that’s the plan.

"You always want to build at fence around your area and there’s some really outstanding talent here," said Strong.

He would know, recruiting the Bay Area over four different stints as a coach in Gainesville.  Even with his stops in Louisville and Texas he never closed the line of communication with Tampa high schools.

"He has instant credibility by coming back," said Garcia.  "He was the same Charlie I met in ‘81”

"With Coach Garcia," said Strong.  "It’s amazing that you still have Coach (Robert) Weiner, you still have Coach (Dominick) Ciao, and you still have those relationships.”

"Our kids are just like our children at home," said Coach Garcia.  "When we send a kid to a university, I want to know he’s very well taken care of.  I’m going to push my kids to Coach Strong."

And Coach Strong is pushing for every Bay Area prospect possible, but knows he cant beat the big three every time.

"Florida’s gonna get their recruits, FSU’s gonna get theirs, Miami, but there’s still enough around," said Strong.

"What Charlie needs to do in my opinion is come in and win those A-list players," said Garcia.  "Those 5-star players.  The way it is in town, all you need to do is get one.  You get one biggie and two’ll come and then three’ll come and then six’ll come."

And if that can’t convince them, Strong is also pushing for a new indoor practice facility to combat Florida weather.

"You look at players now, a lot of them are into 'the candy' is what I call it," said Strong.  "They want to see the new facilities."

What Coach Garcia would like to see, is some of his kids stay at home with Strong, so he can watch them play on Saturday.