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USF Bulls

USF’s Taggart dismisses two players before season finale

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Published:   |   Updated: December 3, 2013 at 03:17 PM

TAMPA – With one game remaining in their college careers, senior defensive backs Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins were dismissed Tuesday from the University of South Florida football program, first-year USF coach Willie Taggart said.

Taggart said it was a violation of team rules, but wouldn’t elaborate. There were no records of Hillsborough County arrests for Joyce and Jenkins, who were suspended indefinitely last week and didn’t play in Friday night’s game at Central Florida.

The Bulls (2-9, 2-5 American Athletic Conference) conclude their season Saturday night at Rutgers (5-6, 2-5).

“Those guys are no longer on our team,’’ said Taggart, who added Joyce and Jenkins will graduate from USF next week. “They’ve done a lot for our football program. Unfortunately, they made a mistake. They’ve got to deal with their mistake.

“It’s disappointing they both are seniors. We’re talking about seniors, not freshmen. We’re trying to change a culture in our entire football program to one that is total commitment to the football team and winning. There are consequences that come with anything that counters that. Those consequences will be paid. There’s no one individual who is bigger than this football team.’’

Joyce, a 5-foot-10, 195-pounder from DeLand, played in 47 games and started 22, including the first 10 of this season. He had three career interceptions, including two against Cincinnati on Oct. 5, becoming the first USF player since 2009 with a multiple-interception game.

Jenkins, a 6-2, 190-pounder from St. Petersburg, played in 39 games and started 15. This season, while shifting between safety and cornerback, he played in seven games and started five.

In their absence at UCF, the Bulls elevated freshman Hassan Childs to the starting lineup. At times, the Bulls employed four freshmen in their secondary. USF lost 23-20, but limited the Knights to 296 yards and forced five turnovers.

“It was our best defensive game of the year,’’ Taggart said. “Those young guys really stepped up and it’s exciting to think about them being part of our future.’’

jjohnston@tampatrib.com

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