weather unavailableweather unavailable
Make us your home page

Joey Knight, Times Staff Writer

Joey Knight

A fourth-generation Floridian, Joey Knight was born in Tampa and raised in Zephyrhills, where he still resides. He moved to the Times in July 2006 after 15 years at the Tampa Tribune, which included a seven-year stint (1997-2004) as University of Florida beat writer. He began covering the University of South Florida athletic department for the Times in 2013. A married father of three, he enjoys running, classic television and classic heavy-metal music.

Phone: (813) 310-6328


  1. Former USF target Keith Dambrot headed to Duquesne


    During college basketball's crazy season, when coaching transactions occur at a dizzying rate, some hires can knock fans over with a feather.

    Or slap them in the face, as some Bulls partisans learned Monday night.

    Veteran Akron coach Keith Dambrot, who reportedly turned down an offer to become USF's coach, has accepted a seven-year contract to coach Atlantic 10 doormat Duquesne.

    On the surface, the decision -- spurning an American Athletic Conference program for an A-10 cellar dweller -- seems peculiar. But consider the fact Dambrot's father played at Duquesne. Also consider the reported terms of Dambrot's deal.

    Seven years, $7 million. Guaranteed.

    That's slightly more lucrative than the contract signed by new Bulls coach Brian Gregory, who inked a six-year, $6.58 million deal on March 13. And while Gregory has one of the most daunting rebuilding tasks before him, Dambrot's not exactly walking into a hoops mecca.

    Duquesne hasn't reached the NCAA Tournament since 1977, and hasn't had a winning season in five years....

    Veteran Akron coach Keith Dambrot has said in published reports he turned down the USF job. Dambrot reportedly has since been hired at Duquesne.
  2. USF defensive back Hassan Childs arrested in Tampa road-rage incident


    TAMPA — University of South Florida football player Hassan Childs has been arrested on assault and marijuana-possession charges in the wake of a suspected road-rage incident late Saturday that left him with gunshot wounds.

    Tampa police said Monday that Childs, 22, was shot after he twice pointed a gun at a car carrying a family of three.

    He faces three counts of aggravated assault and one count of misdemeanor marijuana possession. He was placed under arrest at a local hospital, where he was undergoing treatment....

    USF defensive back Hassan Childs was shot three times in the arm and torso Saturday night.
  3. Police: USF defensive back Hassan Childs shot in road rage incident


    TAMPA — University of South Florida football player Hassan Childs, 22, was injured in a shooting Saturday night, Tampa police said.

    Tampa police spokesman Lt. Steve Lee said the shooting started as a road rage incident.

    About 11:15 p.m. Saturday, police received a call from a man later identified as Jovanni Jimenez, 26, saying that a man, later identified as Childs, pointed a gun at Jimenez and his wife and child at the Eagles Point Apartments at Tampa Palms, 14551 N 46th St....

    USF safety Hassan Childs, shown in the 2013 game, practiced with the team on Saturday, hours before the shooting incident.
  4. USF defensive back Hassan Childs injured in shooting


    USF senior safety Hassan Childs remains in stable condition after being injured in a shooting overnight that stemmed from an apparent road-rage incident, according to Tampa police.

    At about 11:15 p.m. Saturday, police received a call from a man later identified as Jovanni Jimenez, 26, saying that a man, later identified as Childs, pointed a gun at Jimenez and his wife and child at the Eagles Point Apartments at Tampa Palms, 14551 N 46th St....

    Veteran USF defensive back Hassan Childs (22) was injured overnight in a shooting in Tampa.
  5. Former Robinson coach Scott Wagers hired at USF


    New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory took the first step in making good on his vow to bolster the Bulls' recruiting locally, hiring former Robinson High coach Scott Wagers as an assistant.

    The first announced hire of the Gregory regime, Wagers ironically served as an assistant to former Bulls interim coach Murry Bartow at East Tennessee State. In all, he has spent the last 17 years at the college level with stops at ETSU (2000-13), Lamar (2013-14) and Jacksonville (2014-17)....

  6. USF spring football: Day 6 observations


    Six quick reads from Day 6 of USF's spring drills:

    * During the team's final 11-on-11 session Saturday, we kept track of the time between several plays, from the moment the previous play was whistled dead until the ensuing snap. The time ranged from 16 to 27 seconds.

    "I think the rule is, 'as fast as possible,'" new defensive tackles coach Sean Cronin said. "So as soon as they can get it set and snapped, I think that's what they're gonna do. We want it to be unrealistic. We want (the defensive players), when they get into a game against a fast-tempo offense, to seem slow to them."

    * On a related note, the Bulls no longer do post-practice wind sprints, a staple of the Willie Taggart era. But as DT Deadrin Senat noted, when you're scrimmaging at such a brisk tempo, the conditioning is done during practice.

    * Redshirt freshman CB Mike Hampton, a former Hillsborough High standout, had two interceptions during the 11-on-11 session, the latter an easy catch of a wobbly Quinton Flowers throw. Hampton also jumped a route and picked off a short pass intended for Plant alumnus Jordan Reed.

    * During five goal-line possessions -- ball placed at 1 1/2-yard line -- at the end of practice, the offense scored twice before the defense held on the last three. On the first snap, Flowers jogged in untouched on a simple bootleg to the left, then found Marquez Valdes-Scantling -- being covered by Ronnie Hoggins -- on a slant route.

    * The defense is really emphasizing swarming -- or straining -- to the ball. In fact, Cronin said the plan is to rotate linemen extensively so ball pursuit remains relentless.

    "So we expect them, because we're keeping 'em fresh, to play really, really, really, really hard and to strain on every play," Cronin said. "If they can play three plays, they can play three. If they can play five, eight, whatever that number is, we're finding that out right now."

    * Okay, this wasn't an observation per se, but we were told Vikings QB Teddy Bridgewater -- who played for Charlie Strong at Louisville -- was spotted during the early moments of Saturday's practice. Bridgewater and QB Quinton Flowers also are friends....

    Former Jefferson High star Juwuan Brown and his fellow defensive linemen likely will rotate extensively during the 2017 season.
  7. USF spring football: Day 5 observations


    Five quick reads from the fifth day of Bulls spring drills:

    * Though the offensive line remains a mix-and-match proposition, redshirt freshman G Michael Wiggs clearly has made an impression. For the second consecutive workout, Wiggs got significant reps at right guard.

    "He's an athletic kid," first-year offensive line coach Matt Mattox said. "We're getting him to just continue to bend and play physical, but he's doing a really good job and he's learned his plays and what he's got to do, so it's giving him that chance to move up a little bit."

    Thursday's first-team o-line primarily featured Wiggs, LT Eric Mayes, LG Glen Bethel, C Cameron Ruff and RT Marcus Norman. Senior Jeremi Hall, who started every game at left guard last season, still is rehabbing a minor leg injury.

    * Remember LB Jimmy Bayes? The heralded 2014 signee from Immokalee, who has appeared in six total games, darted through a gap and lit up TB Elijah Mack during goal-line work at the end of practice. Starting from the 1 1/2-yard line, the offense needed four plays to push it in.

    * Barring injury, it's pretty clear the Bulls again will have the conference's best tight-end tandem. The ongoing duel between junior Kano Dillon (6-foot-5, 267 pounds) and redshirt sophomore Mitchell Wilcox (6-4, 250) could rage throughout the fall.

    On Thursday, QB Quinton Flowers found Dillon over the middle -- behind a defender -- for a touchdown of roughly 50 yards.

    "I would say for the most part, Kano's dang near as big as anybody in the nation, as far as guys he's gonna go against," Mattox said....

    New USF offensive line coach Matt Mattox (right center, beard) addresses his group at the end of Thursday's practice.
  8. Here's a Shocker: Wichita State may join AAC


    Less than 24 hours after Brian Gregory's formal introduction at USF, a report has surfaced that could make his long-term rebuilding job even harder.

    If that's possible.

    ESPN's Andy Katz reported Thursday that Wichita State would accept an invitation to become the American Athletic Conference's 12th basketball member if the league decides in the near future to extend the offer.

    The Shockers, currently the crown jewel of the Missouri Valley Conference, have won 30 or more games four of the last five seasons, reaching two Sweet 16s and a Final Four during that span.

    AAC spokesperson Chuck Sullivan said the league currently has no comment on the report, but Katz -- citing an unnamed source -- said the AAC could decide on Wichita State soon.

    If the Shockers -- who don't have football -- were to join, they would begin AAC play in 2018-19. Under NCAA rules, if a conference takes a basketball-only member, it must take all of its Olympic/non-revenue sports.

    Katz reports it would take 75 percent of the current AAC membership to ratify such a move.

    The AAC received two men's NCAA Tournament bids this season (Cincinnati, SMU), but UCF has reached the NIT's final four in New York City. If Memphis and Connecticut get back on track and the Shockers join, the "Power Six" narrative AAC commissioner Mike Aresco has consistently pushed would have more merit.

    At least from November to March....

    Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall has led the Shockers to four 30-win seasons in the last five years.
  9. Annapolis to Oakland: Brian Gregory's fateful career twist


    Virtually every coaching journey contains an odd detour or curious fork that alters the trajectory of one's career -- or even life.

    For new USF coach Brian Gregory, that sudden turn occurred after his freshman season at Navy, when he chose to transfer to Oakland University, a Michigan-based school he had never seen.

    Today, he credits the very move with his coaching career.

    "If I never made that move as a 19-year-old, I never would've gotten the (graduate-assistant) job at Michigan State," Gregory said.

    Follow along....

    In a previous life, new USF coach Brian Gregory was a barely-used guard on Navy's 1985-86 team that reached the Elite Eight.
  10. New USF basketball coach Brian Gregory wants to emphasize Tampa Bay recruiting (w/ video)


    TAMPA — Should Brian Gregory manage to resuscitate a USF men's basketball program that is showing nary a vital sign, an image from his introductory news conference Wednesday just might reveal how he did it.

    Gregory, fresh off the podium, was chatting up veteran Tampa Prep coach Joe Fenlon.

    If any message especially resonated Wednesday, it was his desire to re-establish the Tampa Bay area and its surrounding counties as top recruiting priorities. ...

    The new USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory speaks to reporters at the Sun Dome Arena Club in Tampa, Fla. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017.   Gregory, who owns a 248-180 record with six postseason appearances in 13 seasons as a Division I head coach, was named the program's 10th permanent coach on Tuesday.
  11. Opening statements: Sound bites from Brian Gregory's intro


    A few of the more notable sound bites from new USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory's introductory press conference Wednesday:

    On the rebuilding task before him:
    "I know this process is gonna be difficult. It is a process. But we're gonna get after it. I promise you we're gonna get after it."

    On the Sun Dome (where USF drew an average home crowd of 2,586 this past season):
    "I promise you this is gonna be one of the toughest places to play in the country before it's all said and done."

    On developing relationships with local high school coaches such as Sickles' Renaldo Garcia (who recently led the Gryphons to the Class 8A state title):
    "I've already talked to Coach (Garcia) and congratulated him; one of the first calls that I made. Just a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment. ... I think every team he played in the state tournament was held below their scoring average. So he won it on the defensive end of the court, which made me very, very excited."

    On what happened at Georgia Tech (Gregory was dismissed after posting a 76-86 record in five seasons):
    "I feel good because I went through and learned and was able to navigate through a three-year NCAA probation, through APR problems, through our conference realignment that wasn't one or two teams, it was four top-25 teams. I felt great about the culture that we built, the competitive resiliency that we built. ... Was I disappointed? Yeah. Because I thought that's exactly what we wanted to do, but I'm fully aware of the business side of things as well."

    On the influence of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo in his life:
    "There's nothing I do in this profession, and probably to be honest with you, nothing I do in my life that I don't make two calls: one to my dad and the other to Coach Izzo. ... (Izzo) thought this was a special opportunity. One of the things I think he talked about was just the positive belief that you have to have when you face a challenge like we face. He felt that the opportunity, the situation, the infrastructure...he was excited for me."

    On the job Murry Bartow did as Bulls interim coach (an outside chance remains that Bartow will remain on staff in some capacity).
    "I've known Murry Bartow now for 20 years. He did a tremendous job under difficult situations, and I could only feel for him as he was going through it."...

    Brian Gregory was introduced as USF men's basketball coach Wednesday.
  12. Villar leads USF baseball to 19th consecutive win


    USF sophomore David Villar's scorching stretch continued Tuesday.

    So too, did his team's.

    Villar's three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh -- his fourth homer in as many days -- lifted the Bulls (20-1) to a 7-3 victory against North Florida (14-8), extending their win streak to 19 games.

    "Our pitching and defense was really good," third-year coach Mark Kingston said. "Kept us in the game long enough so that our offense could find a way to get runs on the board. It's a complete team."

    And darn close to being a historic one.

    USF can tie the program record for consecutive wins Wednesday night when it travels to Florida Gulf Coast (18-3) -- ranked 12th by Baseball America -- in Fort Myers.

    If Villar's bat boards the bus, the Bulls' chances are strong.

    After hitting .636 (7-for-11) with three homers and 12 RBIs in a four-game weekend sweep of Harvard, Villar sent a 2-1 pitch from UNF reliever Austin Howze over the right field fence in the bottom of the seventh.

    That gave the Bulls a 6-3 lead. DH Luke Borders added insurance with an RBI-single in the bottom of the eighth.

    "You see a developing hitter right now is what you're seeing," Kingston said. "A guy that uses the whole field to hit in, a guy that knows what to look for and what to do with it when he does."...

  13. USF's Marlon Mack, Rodney Adams limit their drills at pro day


    TAMPA — For the first half of USF's annual pro day, the two most prominent figures remained on the sideline. While nearly two-dozen of their old teammates lunged, leaped and lifted, Rodney Adams and Marlon Mack balked.

    Few could blame them.

    Less than three weeks after posting solid performance numbers at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis, Adams and Mack opted not to gamble on tarnishing them Tuesday, participating only in position drills before a plethora of scouts at the Morsani Complex....

    South Florida Bulls running back Marlon Mack (5) runs a drill during the USF Pro Day at Morsani Football Practice Complex at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla. on Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
  14. USF spring football: Day 4 observations


    Following a 10-day layoff for spring break, the Bulls reconvened Tuesday on a clear, mild morning for their fourth spring practice. Here are five quick observations.

    * The offensive line, obviously one of Coach Charlie Strong's biggest concerns, will continue to be a mix-and-match endeavor, especially with senior T Jeremi Hall nursing a mild leg injury. On Tuesday, redshirt freshman Michael Wiggs logged some first-team reps at right guard, with third-year sophomore Billy Atterbury filling in for Hall at left tackle.

    "You have a good group of receivers, a good group of running backs, a good group of defensive backs," Strong said. "I would say with our...tight ends you have a good selection there. But linebackers, we're still a little thin; but offensive and defensive line is where you'd like to get some more guys."

    * Redshirt freshman DeVontres Dukes, a 6-foot-4 Wharton High alumnus, continues turning heads with virtually each practice. On Tuesday, he was on the back end of arguably the offensive highlight of the day when QB Quinton Flowers scrambled, stepped up and lofted a 30-yard TD strike to his outstretched frame in the left corner of the end zone.

    "Tres Dukes is really doing very good," veteran S Devin Abraham said. "(Darnell) doing very well, and then of course Marquez Valdes (Scantling) is awesome every day."

    * Have we mentioned lately that the offensive tempo is brisk? Watch a practice, and you're not likely to discover any glaring differences from last season (other than perhaps more downfield shots and nary a jet sweep). But the pace is sure to be crisper.

    "Some of the routes that we're running now are way different from what we ran last year," Flowers said. "But as you get into the offense, most of the things will be similar to what we ran last year, it's just faster. You get the signal one time and that's it."

    * MLB Auggie Sanchez, sidelined while recovering from labrum surgery, is fine. Sanchez even suited up in full pads with the rest of the Bulls on Tuesday, he just didn't participate. Strong has suggested Sanchez is getting sufficient "mental reps" while rehabbing.

    * In terms of offensive and defensive skill guys, this might -- might -- be the deepest team in program history.

    "I'd say it's deeper than deep," Flowers said....

    The Bulls reconvened Tuesday after a 10-day layoff for spring break.
  15. Brian Gregory primer: 10 facts about USF's 10th coach


    As a prelude to Brian Gregory's formal introduction Wednesday, here are 10 items of interest regarding the 10th permanent men's basketball coach in USF history:

    * He's the second member of the Tom Izzo coaching tree to matriculate to USF, joining Stan Heath. Gregory and Heath were assistants on Izzo's 2000 Michigan State team that defeated Florida for the national title. When Heath's youngest son Josh transferred from USF in 2014 (following his dad's dismissal), he went to Georgia Tech, where Gregory was coach.

    * He and wife Yvette, both from the Chicago area, met in the Windy City in the early 1990s.

    * Yvette went into labor with the oldest of the couple's two daughters (now a high school freshman) when Gregory and Izzo were visiting recruit Paul Davis in suburban Detroit. Gregory had left his cell phone in the car while visiting Davis (a no-no when you're wife's due at any moment).

    * Georgia Tech, which fired Gregory after the 2015-16 season, paid him $806,250 this year and owes him $537,500 in 2017-18, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Gregory is set to make $1 million his first season at USF.

    * Gregory's official bio from his tenure at Dayton (2003-11) indicates he and his wife were heavily involved in the community. Among their philanthropic efforts was their involvement in a local chapter of "Secret Smiles," a charity that delivers beds and bedding to children of families who cannot provide for them.

    * He remains the third-winningest coach in Dayton history (172-94).

    * He spent only one season (1985-86) at Navy, mostly watching the Midshipmen -- led by David Robinson -- reach the Elite Eight. There's no record of Gregory getting in a game that season, according to

    * Gregory transferred to Oakland University in Rochester, Mich., and remains the Golden Grizzlies' career leader in assists (905) and average minutes played (36.4). He's second in career double-doubles (40), seventh in steals (161) and 10th in free-throw percentage (.816).

    * Though all of the four-year seniors in Georgia Tech's program under Gregory graduated, and the Yellow Jackets' APR mostly sparkled on his watch, he leaned heavily on transfers his last two years. Among them was Josh Heath, one of four transfers who accounted for 44 percent of Tech's minutes in 2014-15. The following season (Gregory's last), five seniors played 62 percent of the minutes and scored 76 percent of the points. Four were transfers, including three who played only their senior year at Tech.

    * Three of Gregory's Dayton recruits -- Brian Roberts, Chris Wright and Chris Johnson -- made the NBA. He coached Glenn Rice Jr. at Georgia Tech, but didn't recruit him to the school....

    New USF men's basketball coach Brian Gregory remains the third-winningest coach in Dayton history (172-94).