Commentary | 'Be Like Willie' gaining momentum, Florida linebacker throws a million dollar punch and Johnny Manziel looks 40

June 21, 2013 

Willie Taggart's mantra is that playing for him is about "chasing greatness and capturing excellence."

But to a lot of young quarterbacks it might be just about chasing Willie; sort of like all those basketball dreamers who wanted to be like Mike when the Chicago Bulls were winning championships.

The waiting line to play quarterback at USF appears to be stretching from Fowler Avenue into Tampa Bay.

You would assume these kids are too young to know what Taggart accomplished at Western Kentucky, where he become one of the most decorated quarterbacks in NCAA history with the records he set.

Now as head football coach at USF, Taggart is in the business of selling dreams. He is doing well.

Heading into summer, there are four legitimate players vying for the USF starting quarterback job with incumbents Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd, transfer Steven Bench (Penn State) and incoming freshmen Mike White.

You would think that would frighten away others, but the line keeps growing.

The latest to join the foray is Out-Of-Door-Academy's Evan Wilson, who threw for more than 2,600 yards and 20 touchdowns last year in the Thunder's no-huddle offense.

Two high school verbal commits include quarterbacks Deiondre Porter from Tampa Jefferson and Tampa Wharton's Chase Litton, who join incumbent walk-ons Trent Miller (Palmetto) and Aaron Munoz.

That's nine, if you are counting.

Obviously there is going to be some switching positions, but you can never underestimate the value of someone who played quarterback.

Blakeney timing right

The FHSAA cleared former Cardinal Mooney basketball standout Antonio Blakeney to play at Orlando Oak Ridge, though his situation was nearly identical to what happened in his freshman year, when the state sports prep governing body ruled him ineligible.

A lot of officials in the state legislature want to dissolve the FHSAA. Their biggest criticism is that the organization doesn't treat kids fairly in its eligibility rulings.

The FHSAA is feeling the heat and, frankly, this is the best time to go up against the body if you are a high school athlete.

Blakeney and Bradenton's Alex Owens played on a travel team (Each 1 Teach 1) that was coached by an assistant coach at Oak Ridge and transferred there this spring. The school said the coach (Edward "Boobie" Francis) would no longer be an assistant, but in the past that would not have been enough to allow Blakeney and Owens to play.

Per example: Two girls from Southeast were ruled ineligible their junior seasons because a parent who coached them on a travel team kept the scorebook for a couple of Southeast games.

Gators' best punch

Florida's Antonio Morrison was arrested outside a Gainesville night club last weekend for punching a bouncer who wouldn't let him in for a discounted price that the starting linebacker loudly argued was his inalienable right as a member of the Gators.

If he never plays a game for Florida, this was a million-dollar punch that might have saved head coach Will Muschamp and his program a lot of headaches.

There were numerous witnesses, including one who recorded the incident on a cell phone. If the bouncer would've acquiesced and granted Morrison entrance because he played for Florida the NCAA cops would've been swarming all over Gainesville. You can bet the house a full-scale investigation would've been launched.

Is that really Manziel?

Conspiracy theorists should have a good time with the photo of Johnny Manziel on the NCAA 2014 video football game. The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M looks about 40 years old with a swollen face and baggy eyes.

With the Ed O'Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA hitting a crucial stage this week, you can't help wondering if this was done deliberately.

O'Bannon and other former collegiate athletes are suing the NCAA and companies that license and market college sports video games, claiming their likeness to the images on those games warrants they get paid.

The photo of Manziel is so unflattering you can't help wondering if the NCAA is saying you've got to be kidding.

Alan Dell, Herald sportswriter, can be reached at941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at@ADellSports.

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