Darrien Grant has always been referring to his commitment to South Florida as a soft commitment, even as it remains the clear frontrunner. The Southeast High defensive end plans to take official visits to a handful of ACC schools and check out a few other Florida programs on an unofficial basis during the remainder of the season.
But USF has its clear appeals. He’s been able to visit Tampa four times this year already because of its proximity to Bradenton, and the coaching staff’s ties to Manatee County make it an appealing destination to prospects in the 941 area code.
“They’re from here,” Grant said of Bulls head coach Willie Taggart and defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie. “They know a lot about the area and stuff, and can bond with us, so that’s good.”
Taggart, who was a star quarterback at Manatee, and Woodie, who coached both Palmetto and Bayshore, have dipped deeper into this current crop of Manatee County talent than during any of Taggart’s previous three seasons as head coach. Woodie has served as a primary recruiting liaison between USF and his hometown, doing some initial recruiting work on Grant, Manatee wide receiver Tarique Milton, Braden River defensive back Tyrone Collins and Bradenton Christian linebacker Brett Gerber.
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Grant is now primarily in touch with defensive line coach Eric Mathies as the Bulls try to keep the defensive end on board until signing day. Grant plans to visit UCF and Florida International during the coming weeks, then wants to take his official visits to Duke, North Carolina State, Boston College and possibly Navy once the Seminoles’ season ends.
Before committing to USF after a summer camp in Tampa, Grant had previously camped with the Blue Devils in Durham, N.C., for their Saturday Night Live camp and took a tour of N.C. State in nearby Raleigh, N.C. He also holds an offer from Buffalo.
And even as he takes his time to make a decision, which will stretch into the offseason as he takes his final visits up north, Grant’s frequent trips across the Sunshine Skyway Bridge leave him leaning toward staying close to home.
“The coaches there are all great people,” Grant said. “Every time I go there they’re great.”
News and nuggets:
- Taylor Upshaw added another school to the rapidly growing list of programs who have shown interest when he took a visit to Florida State on Saturday to watch the No. 13 Seminoles beat Wake Forest, 17-6. Braden River’s junior end already has six offers during his first year playing organized football from California, Vanderbilt, Pittsburgh, Navy, South Florida and Central Florida. He’s also taken unofficial visits to Miami and Georgia, although neither has extended a scholarship offer yet.