Ward: "Taggart's a great mentor to me"

Purdue Boilermaker commit Denzel Ward took an official visit to South Florida over the weekend, and recaps his visit with USFNation.com

Over the past month, Chicago (Ill.) Simeon offensive tackle Denzel Ward has built a strong relationship with the South Florida coaching staff, especially Bulls' defensive line coach, Eric Mathies. The 6-foot-9, 305-pound Purdue commit took his only official visit to the Boilermakers a few months back, and this past weekend, Ward took a trip down to the Sunshine State to check out South Florida University and it's beautiful surroundings.

"My visit went great," Ward said. "Coach Taggart is a great guy. It's what you see is what you get with him. His staff really cares about the players. USF has great connections throughout the world. It's a really cool opportunity. That team just looks really motivated going into next year.

"On Friday, we went Columbia the restaurant. It's like one of the oldest restaurants. I hung out with Mike White for the rest of the night. On Saturday, we did a big tour on campus and went to Busch Gardens. Hogan's dinner was pretty nice. It showed the Tampa life out there on the beach. They're (USF) definitely in top consideration."

Along with the Bulls' coaching staff, freshman quarterback Mike White has done his own share of recruiting of the athletic tackle prospect, and the two are starting to build a strong connection.

"I like Mike White," Ward said. "He seems like he's a great guy. He's going to be a great quarterback himself. He's trying to get some good guys down there with him."

Though college life can be strenuous at times when you're juggling your classwork with a long football season, the activities surrounding Tampa Bay were viewed as a major positive for Ward.

"The campus is just the campus," Ward said. "You do your work there at the campus and the city is a whole other party. You can go downtown and everything is not really close to each other. You have your focus and when do you want to get away from campus, you can go off to different places. It was pretty nice."

Bulls' head coach Willie Taggart has only been recruiting Ward for a few months, but the Bradenton native has made a significant impact on the Windy City big man's recruitment.

"Coach Taggart, he's a really great guy," Ward said. "Taggart's a great a mentor to me and a guy I would like to model myself after. He's a guy that I would like to be around to be a better person."

Ward plans to major in broadcasting and the staff has preached to him on how great the opportunity it is to kick start your career in Tampa Bay.

"They said there's a lot of opportunities there for my broadcasting major, and that I have the opportunity to come in and compete as a freshman there if I come in and do the work.

With a Syracuse visit in January yet to go, Ward doesn't plan to make his college decision anytime soon.

"I still have my Syracuse visit set and I'm debating a few other ones," Ward said. "I'm just waiting until Signing Day so I don't rush anything. I'm just trying to make sure I make the best decision."

Fresh off a visit from over the weekend, where does Ward's recruitment stand going forward?

"I can't really say I have a leader right now because I've only took two visits," Ward said. "Both of my visits went well and I've made great connections at both places. I've made great connections with both quarterbacks at Purdue and USF. I just have to compare my opportunities when it comes down to it later. I have to look more in-depth into the situations."

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