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First up in the USF Recruiting Class of 2016 series is a southwest Florida sleeper Willie Taggart was overjoyed to hold on to through national signing day. You will soon become very familiar with his name and I am certain he will see plenty of playing time in 2016: South Fort Myers linebacker Andre Polk stands at 6’4, 215 pounds and loves to give opponents the business.
Following Jerry Kills‘ unexpected departure from the University of Minnesota, Polk flipped his commitment from the Gophers to the Bulls in early October 2015. Polk flipping from Minnesota to USF makes him the second active player on the roster to do so, the first being safety Nate Godwin. Polk was an Honorable Mention selection for the 2014 Florida Class 6A All-State Defense after racking up 50 tackles, nine TFL, three passes defended, forcing two fumbles, snagging a fumble recovery, a sack, and an interception during his junior campaign.
Polk finished his senior season with 54 total tackles, three fumble recoveries (one returned for a touchdown), and three interceptions. Polk only played in six games in 2015 due to a FHSAA suspension for an preseason in-game skirmish with Fort Myers. The News-Press recognized him on the first-team All-Area Defense list. Fort Myers News Press writer Cory Mull sang high praise about the Southwest Florida standout, “He’s a versatile athlete who can run, jump, pivot, zig zag and stop on a dime.“
Simply stating football runs in the Polk family would be a severe understatement. Andre’s brother Ta’jarvis Fuller (Dunbar 2012) played linebacker at Illinois, brother Teh’Ron Fuller (South Fort Myers 2014) plays for Appalachian State, and adopted brother Pierre Raymond (East Lee County 2011) played at Walsh University. Polk was an early enrollee, graduating early from South Fort Myers High School in December and enrolled at USF by January. Polk has a strong academic transcript (3.1 grade-point average), which allowed him to join USF in time to participate in Spring Football and dig into the playbook.
Here are my thoughts from watching Polk’s tape several times: Great hands for interceptions, hips roll smoothly with defenders, knack for forcing fumbles, sideline-to-sideline, great physicality, excellent at reading the QB and breaking up plays, exceptional ability to make reads then utilize closing speed to wreak havoc, cannot overstate ability to catch the ball with his hands, excellent pursuit and never gives up on a play, aggressive blocker, and an overall QB nightmare. (WATCH HUDL HIGHLIGHTS HERE)
Polk had suitors such as Louisville, Marshall and Appalachian State, and made official visits to Minnesota, USF and Iowa State. Coach Taggart harps about getting players on campus, and after winning a pair of gold cleats at South Florida’s Fort Myers satellite camp in June 2015; Polk was destined to be a Bull. Another big time get on the recruiting trail from a satellite camp for Willie Taggart and the USF coaching staff.
by Matthew Manuri
Editor | SoFloBulls.com | @Mcknurkle
|Size-Strength-Speed||Polk is a prospect with excellent length and shows a frame to add additional weight. Lean and rangy at this point in his development. Further strength development will also enhance his game. Good speed with a long stride, fluid, more fast than quick.|
|Ball Skills||Shows effective ability to play the ball both on offense and defense. Shows good hands and will extend to catch the ball, not always a smooth catch though he tracks the ball well. Covers ground on defense to play the ball and has a large catch radius.|
|Versatility||Good special teams ability though most effective in covering kicks and punts, covers ground and shows ability to tackle effectively. Skill set shows a more natural transition on defense though he will need at add both weight and strength. Makes plays on offense though development of routes and short area burst will benefit.|
|Big Play Ability||Not a big play type of player in terms of scoring the ball. Effective with the ball in the air and will make plays. Not as skilled in space with the ball to make people miss and extend runs. Added short area burst and dropping his hips to change direction will benefit this area.|
|Bottom Line||Polk is a good prospect due to his length, versatility, special teams value and awareness. Shows the physical skills to become a Power 5 player with development to the above mentioned areas. An athlete who may be best suited to develop physically on defense and contribute on special teams.|
|Notes||Switched commitment to South Florida November 2015… Committed to Minnesota October 2015.|
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