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October 21, 2013

Recruiting: Mid-season evaluation

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USF starts the season 0-4, losing games to McNeese State and FAU. The likes of Ray Ray McCloud III, Vincent Jackson, Christian Pellage, Ronnie Harrison, and Montel McBride are among big name visitors that have visited for home games.

You would think with a struggling team failing to reach expectations would see a ripple effect into recruiting. The doubters are there - people who want to believe that the recruits will give a cold shoulder to USF due to the poor start.

Tampa Catholic outside linebacker Tre Watson has been a normal visitor to the USF games as he's been to every home game. Here's what Tre had to say following the Cincinnati game.

"The game was actually a big surprise to me. I feel like USF came out with more energy than they have had all season. The defense played extremely well tonight and special teams came in clutch early. And again, the freshman played extremely well which is a good sign for the future."

Bulls' commit Devin Abraham has been very positive in the team's losses as well - he had this to say following the loss to FAU.

"[Gotta be] patient, give it time, and believe - is what everyone needs."

You Gotta Believe

Believe. You've got to believe and buy into the USF program is something that the USF coaching staff stresses to these recruits.

USF currently sits at no. 39 in the Rivals.com team rankings, ahead of schools like Oregon, Nebraska, West Virginia, and USC.

The way USF has been able to bring in solid recruits - you would think this team is 4-2, not 2-4. There's no way USF can bring in four star talent right?

USF's first commitment of the 2014 class came from Immokalee athlete and Rivals four-star Jimmy Bayes. The Bulls also picked up another four-star and former Florida commit Ryeshene Bronson.

USF also has a good shot in landing Immokalee four-star running back D'Ernest Johnson. He named the Bulls among his favorite schools recently.

The Bulls landed a big commitment in Miami Jackson athlete Quinton Flowers - who will be expected to add a dual-threat dynamic as a quarterback to the west coast offense.

Building the fence

What about building the all-important wall around Tampa Bay? USF has Tajee Fullwood, Deiondre Porter, and Mazzi Wilkins committed to USF - all big names in the area. USF has six of their eighteen commitments from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Add in Devin Abraham, Jarvis Stewart and Juwuan Brown and the wall is evident.

Running backs coach Telly Lockette has done a great job recruiting the Miami area. Linebackers coach Raymond Woodie has recruited Fort Myers well, bringing in four 2014 commitments from the area, and one 2015 commit.

So before you jump off the bus and sleep on the Bulls, recognize that this staff is making their mark in recruiting - and building a bright future to the USF program.

The Breakdown

To date, the Bulls have lost two commitments - both at critical positions - but have made up ground with replacements.

Getting Chase Litton early was a big boost for the Bulls, but Litton didn't feel as though he would be a good fit and decommitted. That sent some heading for shelter, but the staff has worked masterfully at evaluating hidden talents that some may have overlooked.

Picking up tight end Nick Nataro from Estero (Fla.) is a big get for the Bulls, as the need for a tight end is evident. Nataro is a Rivals two-star. The Bulls picked up offensive lineman Michael Galati from Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee and three-star OL Michael Smith from Miami (Fla.) Central. While Bruno Reagan from Clarkesville (Tenn.) rounds off the offensive line. Reagan could possibily move across the line to the defensive side.

Of those - only Smith and Reagan are Rivals three-stars - the rest are two stars and rising.

The receiver position is an area of need for USF, and the need has been addressed with Bronson and Rivals two-star Stanley Clerveaux from North Miami (Fla.). Look for the Bulls to at least sign one more receiver for this class.

Losing Litton set the Bulls back - and the six-hour commitment from Flowers was a roller coaster, but Flowers recommitted Saturday and that brought the class up higher. Porter is an athlete that can play QB, but really has attributes that may be used elsewhere.

At running back, Stewart is the lead back and the Bulls have been flirting with several others, including Johnson. Fullwood has the speed to play a slot/all-purpose back position - and the size to boot.

On the defensive side, USF lost LB Frankie Hernandez but don't rule out his possible return to the 'Bus'. The bulls have Brown, Bayes and Madison (Ala.) Bob Jones LB Nick Holman committed thus far.

On the defensive line, USF signed a ton of talent in 2013 and the need isn't as significant as elsewhere. Reagan is the only true DL prospect so look for USF to aggressively hunt for two more - including a couple of JUCO products.

The secondary is full of talent, with Abraham, Miami (Fla.) Central's Deatrick Nichols, Wilkins and Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood DB Chris Jones, along with Lehigh Acres (Fla.) East Lee three-star Kendall Sawyer.

Offense commitments: 11/10

Defensive commitments: 7/8



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