It's just nine days until National Signing Day, so we hit up the biggest recruitnik we know to talk about the upcoming USF class. Willie Taggart seems to be winning a lot out in the hinterlands... but how many of those kids will make it to campus and have an impact? And where could some late surprises come from?
Josh Newberg is the man to ask, and his Bulls247.com website is a tremendous resource for everything involving solid verbals and unofficial visits. He's out at summer passing camps and high school practices building relationships with prospects before they've even attended a prom, and those relationships make his information as solid as you'll see in his industry. You can subscribe here, and there's no better time to do so.
So what's the strength of this class, and where are the weaknesses? It seems remarkably consistent across the board, with every kid but one being a 3 star.
The strength of the class is on the defensive side of the ball. Two guys that will have an immediate impact are JUCO prospects Demetrius Hill and Jamie Byrd. Hill will add immediate depth at defensive end and Byrd will see meaningful playing time in the secondary next year.
The biggest weakness is speed. USF is still struggling to find a true burner at wide receiver or running back. Tyre McCants will be a great player at USF, but I think Taggart needs to add a little more speed before Signing Day.
We see Quinton Flowers and of course that's a big get, but why isn't there a JC quarterback in this class that might be able to compete right away? If Flowers was that guy, wouldn't all the other schools that wanted him to play another position have taken him as a QB?
The unwritten rules for roster management say that you should always have four scholarship quarterbacks. Right now USF has Mike White, Steven Bench and that's it. I'm not counting Matt Floyd. I expect him to transfer and if he doesn't, he still won't see the field. Ever. The third scholarship quarterback would be Quinton Flowers.
I don't see any prep or even JUCO quarterbacks on the recruiting board right now. It's possible USF is banking on a transfer. If USF goes into the season with three scholarship quarterbacks, I think there is reason for concern. If USF were to get a transfer it wouldn't be until after the spring semester.
Has USF ever had so many guys not from Florida before? Is expanding the recruiting base something Coach T wants to do long-term?
I don't think which state a recruit is from is an issue. As long as USF is upgrading their talent and meeting their needs, that's all that matters. Since USF is running a pro-style offense, they're going to have to go out of state to land offensive linemen and tight ends. The state of Florida is known for producing athletes, not linemen. I don't see any problem with Taggart reaching out of state for big bodies.
Who is out there on the horizon as a late add... there's only 24 commits presently and with early enrollees, USF can have up to 31 sign on NSD. What's the Crystal Ball tell you about guys we'll see added two weeks from today?
Right now I'm feeling confident in the Bulls landing Tampa (Fla.) Jesuit 3-star defensive end Vincent Jackson, Immokalee (Fla.) three-star running back D'Ernest Johnson and Tampa (Fla.) three-star linebacker Josh Black. There are a couple others like Sarasota (Fla.) three-star running back Marlon Mack and Miami (Fla.) Northwestern three-star wide receiver JoJo Robinson that USF has a shot at, but still has some ground to make up before Signing Day.
Willie's got the #1 class in the AAC, and #40 nationally. Give Coach T and his staff a grade for the recruiting so far. And what is this staff's biggest strength and weakness on the trail?
The staff has done an exceptional job of holding on to their current commitments. With the exception of Deiondre Porter, USF has had to fend off some late competition on several of their commits. They need to stay on defense as things will only get crazier over the next two weeks.
The Bulls are still missing on a lot of local prospects. It's not the 5-star prospects that USF should be landing, it's the next tier that that they need to keep home. Lower level SEC and ACC schools are the biggest competition for USF, not UM, FSU and UF.
Was there any issues with the firing of Walt Wells and Nick Sheridan? Did it help or hurt the class in any way?
Honestly, I don't think it has, or will have, an impact on the current class.
Who should the fans watch out for as possible victims of the infamous USF Academic Committee?
Grades are a touchy subject because you never really know where a recruit stands academically without seeing a transcript. I'd rather not put kids names out publicly. I can say that there are handful of recruits that are going to be close. I wouldn't be surprised if there ends up being 2 or 3 grade casualties in this class.
Thanks to Josh for the time, and follow him on Twitter @joshnewberg247.
Appropriate Wrestling Clip:
No wrestler ever had an entrance like Goldberg. Much like the man himself in the ring, it was simple, intense, and overwhelming. Goldberg would walk out to that haunting music, the crowd chanting his name in unison, and everyone in the cheap seats knew what was coming. He would spear his opponent, probably jackknife powerbomb them, and then get the 1,2,3 in quick fashion.
He was victorious in his first 173 matches in WCW, and won most of them with astounding speed and power. Rare was the face that could get that kind of pop from the crowd, and his rise to super-duper-stardom was lightning fast. And that's what USF needs right now: Someone incredibly charismatic and talented that gets results in a hurry.
Coach Taggart and his staff already have the #1 class in the AAC, and are adding to it every day. They are overwhelming the competition. So we only have one question for you, Willie: Who's Next?