While success on the field hasn’t necessarily materialized yet for Coach Willie Taggart in his first two years as head coach of South Florida, he has seen results on the recruiting trail and bringing in talent poised to make an immediate impact for the green and gold. The now third year coach was enthusiastic on National Signing Day as for the second year, USF landed the top recruiting class in the American Athletic Conference.
The class of 22 included 19 commits signing their LOI’s on Wednesday, 2 early enrollees, and 1 preferred walk on. Unlike several schools around the country agonizing over the usual drama and speculation surrounding Signing Day and where certain kids will end up, almost every committed player for USF had their letter of intent signed and faxed by 11 AM, much to the delight of Coach Taggart. “It was exciting to see how fast our guys got their LOI's in,” Taggart said during his annual signing day press conference. “It shows how much kids want to be here."
The list of signees includes:
-Reilly Gibbons- OL/Transfer (Stanford)
-Danny Thomas- LB/Godby HS/3 Star (Already enrolled)
-Jaymon Thomas- S/Immokalee HS/2 Star
-Trevon Sands- RB/Southwest Miami Senior HS/3 Star
-Ronnie Hoggins- CB/Monarch HS/3 Star
-Billy Atterbury- G/Central Catholic HS/3 Star
-Glen Bethel- T/Arizona Western (JuCo)/3 Star
-Chance Belloise- DT/Gulf HS/Not Rated (Will Walk On)
-Nico Sawtelle- LB/Jensen Beach HS/2 Star
-Mitchell Wilcox- DE/Tarpon Springs HS/3 Star
-Malik Vaccaro-Dixon- WR/Port Charlotte HS/3 Star
-Brett Kean- QB/St. Edward HS (OH)/3 Star
-Kirk Livingstone- G/Stranahan HS/3 Star
-Deangelo Antoine- S/Oak Ridge HS/2 Star
-Chris Barr- WR/Trinity Christian Academy/3 Star
-Jarvis Baxter- WR/Trinity Valley (JuCo)/3 Star
-Jordan Reed- WR/Plant Senior HS/3 Star
-Marlon Gonzalez- DE/North Fort Myers HS/3 Star
-Cameron Campbell- C/Charles W. Flanagan HS/2 Star
-Nate Ferguson- CB/Sickles HS/3 Star
-Marcus Norman- T/Sebastian River HS/3 Star
-Khalid McGee- S/Miami Northwestern HS/3 Star
The class overall fits Taggart’s aim in locking down in-state athletes and local talent. 20 of USF’s new additions come directly from the state of Florida, while standouts such as Atterbury, Reed, Ferguson, Wilcox, and transfer Reilly Gibbons all hail from the Tampa Bay area. With QB Brett Kean previously attending University High School in Fort Lauderdale before spending his senior year in Ohio, JuCo transfer WR Jarvis Baxter remained the only true out of state commit for the Bulls.
Another key of emphasis that was placed during the process was on speed. With a switch to a more spread based attack on offense, Taggart knew he had to secure plenty of speed to make this work, especially in a state full of it, as he mentioned this afternoon. "Something we really got was speed out of this class. That's something you really need around here.”
When asked if this new recruiting class can come in and play immediately, Taggart was adamant in his philosophy of finding players that can come in and make an immediate impact. "We're always going to recruit guys to come take our current guys jobs. We want to give kids chances to compete. You don't want to limit a kid’s abilities when he steps into the program." With the class of 2015 now signed and secured, the next focus for USF football will be two weeks of conditioning with the new coaching staff before Spring practice officially begins on February 23rd.