Game on Saturday Is Special For Miami Natives

Several players scattered throughout South Florida's roster hail from the Miami Dade area. While some of them grew up fantasizing to wear the orange, white and green of the Hurricanes, they eventually took their talents to South Florida to play for the Bulls for the collegiate career.

A dozen players on South Florida's roster hail from the Miami Dada area and growing up watching Hurricane football was a ritual in their household. Several of their family members donned the orange, green and white and they dreamed of running through the tunnel at Sun Life Stadium. For some, not every dream comes true.

"I try to look at every game the same," defensive tackle Todd Chandler said. "Coming from Miami, this is a big game, mentally. Just to play against some guys that I do know and who I was with on a day-to-day basis. One of my best friends is Maurice Hagens, the fullback. That's a guy that we used to stay at each other's houses on a nightly basis."

Chandler was one of those prospects who grew up a Hurricane fan when he was a youngster as well.

"Yeah, I grew up a Miami fan," Chandler said. "My whole family was Miami fans. Everyone expected me to go there, but like I said, it just didn't feel quite like home like South Florida did when I took my visit.

Junior defensive tackle, Elkino Watson, shocked the recruiting analysts on signing day when the former Booker T. Washington standout choose the Bulls on signing day over the Hurricanes.

"It's a pretty cool game," Watson said. "I'm going against a lot of old high school teammates. A lot of old friends I used to play optimist ball with. Challenges like this, our defense has to come out and play great, while limiting the big plays.

Friendships that Watson developed on his visit to South Florida when he was in high school sealed the deal for the Bulls back in 2011, choosing them over the Hurricanes and Florida Gators.

"I pretty much broke the Miami fans hearts when I came to USF," Watson. "Everyone wanted me to go to Miami because I always grew up and talked about them a lot. I feel like this is my home and this what I love now, USF. When I came here, the brotherhood I formed with these guys on my visit that was an unpredictable moment. I never thought random guys could click that fast.

South Florida hosts the instate Miami Hurricanes on Saturday in Raymond James Stadium at 12:00 PM.


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