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Bay Made: Reflecting On USF’s Graduating Class’ High School Days

Tampa, May 9, 2019- Today we re-wind and take a look back at a few South Florida graduates’ glory days; who stayed true to their hometown roots, despite the MANY options earned. In turn, they were part of the 2018 senior class that led the Bulls to 36 wins in a four-year span- the most in USF history; now, let’s dive into their past teenage contributions forever engraved in HSFB books.

Defensive End Vincent Jackson Jr, Jesuit High Alum- The former four-year starter and 4-star prospect for the royal blue and white Tigers, tallied 36 offers from the likes of almighty Alabama, Virginia, Texas Tech, Auburn, USC, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and more before sealing the deal to stay in the 813. Jackson was a key imposing force in Jesuit’s front seven, standing at 6’2″ 235; racking up countless accolades in any sport he laid his talented hands on.

In 35 games played per MaxPreps, Vincent recorded 163 total tackles, 65 solo, 3 pancake blocks, 32 tackles for loss, forced a fumble and recovered 2, had 22 sacks, 6 receptions for 93 yards and blocked a field goal as a four-year letterman. He was recognized with Class 5A all-state first team in 2014 as a senior leader and second team as a junior, named first-team All-Hillsborough County Defense in 2012 & 2013 seasons posting 87 tackles and eight quarterback hurries and was a MaxPreps first-team sophomore All-American in 2011. Jackson was also Butkus Award semifinalist in 2013 and aided Team Tampa to back-to-back 7-on-7 National Championships; ranking No. 16 on the Tampa Bay Times Home Team Top 25. The award scroll list continued, ranking the 31st best defensive end prospect nationally by ESPN.com, and on the clay, he was a three-year athlete in track and field; as a two-time state finalist in shot put and discuss. per gousfbulls.com


Cornerback Mazzi Wilkins, Plant High Alum- The shut-down 6′ 165-pound, two-year starting corner holding down the green and gold’s secondary, who is now preparing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie camp, made his unique name known in his city too. Mazzi’s tremendous ball skills rewarded him with a 3-star recruit rating and a multiplicity of some 17 offers, including UCF, Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, Indiana, Marshall, and Bowling Green before making the executive decision to become part of the Charge.

Wilkins earned the second-team All-Hillsborough County title for his 2013 efforts, helping lead Plant to an 11-2-1 record and Class 8A state semifinals that same year. In 25 games according to the MaxPreps stat-line Mazzi amassed 121 tackles, 87 solo, with 4.8 TPG, was tested to his coverage limits collecting 41 pass deflections, forced 2 fumbles and recovered 1, had 3 TFLs, rushed the rock 5 times for 106 yards and tacked on one INT in his career as a Plant Panther.


Linebacker Josh Black, Sickles High Alum- As a consistent 6’2″ 220-pound disrupter residing in the front seven, Josh received some well-earned attention across the country as well. With eight offers listed as a 3-star athlete, Black was swarmed by similar division one collegiate programs such as Toledo, Arizona, Marshall, Bowling Green, Iowa State, and Minnesota. He committed to Marshall after his official visit in January of 2014 according to 247 sports, but less than a month later visited the South Florida campus and couldn’t resist the local love among other things and inked his signature with USF.


Josh tore up 7A offensive backfields his whole career as a high-caliber Gryphon tackling machine; leading Sickles in sacks and quarterback pressures in his last three seasons. He was named the Tampa Bay Times Defensive Player of the Year, a First-team Class 7A all-state selection, first-team All-Hillsborough County, Hillsborough County Defensive Player of the Year, first-team Tampa Bay Times All-Suncoast, (wait, there’s more of course) and was ranked No. 25 on the Tampa Bay Times Home Team Top 25 after posting 103 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 20 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2013 playing linebacker and off the edge as a defensive end, courtesy of gousfbulls.com. In 32 games under his defensive belt via MaxPreps, Black accumulated a staggering 228 total tackles, 142 on his own with 7.1 TPG, 43 TFLs, 36 sacks for a 111-yard loss, 70 QB hurries, blocked 2 punts and a field goal, had one safety, forced 9 fumbles (wow) and recovered 3.

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor