By Suzy Stark

TAMPA, Fla. – USF has seen an influx of players from Miami in recent years, with ten Bulls on its current roster.

Second-year Running Backs Coach Telly Lockette also hails from Miami, where he spent five years years as the head coach at Miami Central High School before joining USF’s staff. While at Central, Lockette amassed a 60-10 record, leading the team to three straight 6A state championship appearances, winning two state titles with teams ranking first and second in the country.

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Lockette also served on the staff at his alma mater, Northwestern High School, for four seasons as the running backs coach, three of those also as the offensive coordinator. Over the past decade, Lockette had the opportunity to virtually scout future Bulls.

“Most of the kids we have here – I either coached against them when they were in high school or I knew them as they were growing up, coming up through Little League,” said Lockette.

Senior defensive tackle Todd Chandler (Northwestern High School) and senior defensive end Elkino Watson (Booker T. Washington High School) have taken the younger players from Miami under their wings.

“Every time one of the recruits comes up here, I make it my main objective to come and talk to the young guys and let them know that USF is an upcoming program. It’s good to get away from Miami because there’s a lot of things that you can get caught up in. Tampa is just a nice area, you don’t have to worry about hearing the gunshots all night or going back to where you’re from,” Chandler said.

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“You already know they’re family members, so it’s better to relate to those kids and keep them on the right page,” said Coach Lockette. “[I] always give them a reminder of how rough it is back home and they can keep grounded and do a good job while they’re here.”

That Miami brotherhood off the field is leading to success on the field.

“It really helps on the field because you’ve always got trust. You’ve got to trust the man next to you for you to win,” said sophomore cornerback Lamar Robbins, who attended Southridge High School in Miami.

“Not only do we do these little things on the field, off the field we go out together, go to church together, eat together,” said sophomore halfback Darius Tice, who went to Northwestern High School. “You can tell all of us have come together as a family.”

But when the high school football season comes around, the light-hearted trash talking comes out when their alma maters go head to head.

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“During the season, that’s really the talk of the locker room. Everybody’s got so much pride in their high school,” said Robbins.