TAMPA, FL. - In less than 22 seasons of existence, USF Football has produced 39 NFL players.
But not all Bulls focus on a professional playing career. Some turn their attention to another part of the game: coaching.
- Auggie Sanchez went to St Pete-Northeast and coaches at USF.
- Thor Jozwiak went to Lake Region High and coaches at Clearwater High
- Cameron Ruff went to Jesuit and coaches at Jesuit
Recently, three USF grads began their career on the sidelines. Former Linebacker Auggie Sanchez is a quality control coach at USF, while former offensive linemen Cameron Ruff and Thor Jozwiak are settling in as high school coaches in the Bay Area.
When you get done playing, and you’re trying to find something to do, a lot of people revert back to football just because that’s what we know so much of and a lot of us have a passion for it,” said Sanchez, who is a St. Pete –Northeast alum and holds the USF program record for career tackles (388).
“To pass down the knowledge that I was able to take through my experience at USF back to my home high, there is no better way to do it,” said Ruff, who started the final 25 games of his career.
“I definitely had to be involved with the game of football,” said Jozwiak, who started all 13 games of his senior season in 2015, when USF reached the Miami Beach Bowl. “It’s something that I love and something I hold near and dear to my heart.”
Taking on any new role in football requires a learning curve; especially when it comes to devoting time to teaching and preparing players.
“We all have (taken off plays in practice) as a player, but as a coach it is your job to get the best out of somebody,” said Jozwiak.
”You realize that when you were a player you thought you had all the answers but you really didn’t,” said Sanchez.
These Bulls have the knowledge of the game – they’re also familiar with fighting through adversity. In 2015 they helped the Bulls reached their first Bowl game since 2010.
“In our time here we took a program that was really in the muck,” said Sanchez. “We elevated it to the best it’s probably ever been in program history.”
“It’s something special,” said Ruff. “To know that through that system we were like minded through the system and even after we are still like-minded.”
While all three have aspirations of moving up in the coaching ranks, one has a certain goal:
“My dream always was to be the head coach (at USF),” said Sanchez.
And how would Coach Sanchez fill out his staff?
“You sit there and you put together a mock little staff and you have fun with it but that would be really cool to put some people we played with together on a staff,” said Sanchez. “I don’t know how much work we would get done; we’d probably sit there and reminisce more than anything.”
“I don’t think Auggie thinks we would get a lot done, but I think we would get a lot accomplished,” said Ruff with a smile. “We have a lot of like-minded guys who have seen what works (to win at USF).”
All good things take time. These three know that. Maybe one day they will roam the sidelines at Ray Jay. But for now, they are focused on helping the next group of players achieve their dreams.
“Being a part of that brotherhood of Bulls – to see us going out into the Bay Area and getting involved, it’s amazing to be part of that brotherhood and now another brotherhood: the coaches’ brotherhood of Bulls in the Bay Area,” said Jozwiak.