Grading The USF '09 Recruiting Class: Defense

The Bulls '09 recruiting class included several highly-touted prospects and USF Defensive Coordinator Wally Burnham will have even more weapons for his defensive arsenal. What kind of marks did USF's defensive recruits garner? provides the break-down and the grades.

Heading into the ‘08 recruiting season the staff realized there was needs they had to fill and the highly-touted, top-25 signing class they announced last week did just that. They shored up the lines by signing 8 defensive linemen and 5 on the offensive side, and the rest of the roster is filled with standout athletes and the Bulls truly added elite speed across the board.

In the past the USF staff has been known to be able to find and cultivate lesser known prospects, but that's wasn't the case this year, as the staff won head to head battles with the big boys. DE Ryne Giddins picked USF over UF & USC and just about every other college team. They won the battle with Miami & Illinois for LB Sam Barrington, Kayvon Webster, and the pace kids. At the same time went against many major programs and landed 8 of the top 100 players in the state. Players like Julius Forte, Steven Jaques, Jaquez Jenkins, Sterling Griffin, and Victor Marc.  They also added true Florida speed with prospects Lindsey Lamar, Derrick Hopkins, Ricardo Dixon, and standout athletes in Chase Griffiths, Bradley Battles & Demi Thompson

To address the immediate needs of 2009, the staff aggressively recruited the JUCO ranks and hit the bonanza.  The staff signed 6 JUCO's headlined by the top rated JUCO DE in Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Leslie Stirrups, OL Carlos Savala, LB Jacquian Williams, & OL Jamar Bass. The Bulls also signed two and two postgraduate players, DT Kyhri Thornton and DT Anthony Hill, who is already enrolled on campus. 

The top 35 class is made up of 15 defensive players, 12 offensive players and two standouts that will come in as athletes, and here's the breakdown.

Defensive Breakdown (16)

Defensive Line (8)

Wally Burnham knows for his defense to be effective it starts on the line, and after signing eight players on the defensive line, this class will give him athletes that coach's dream about for years to come.

Of the eight defensive linemen, five come in as defensive ends.

The gem of the class is 4-star recruit Ryne Giddins (6'4-235), a Parade All-American and a consensus top-100 prospect, rated 12th best defensive end by, and ranked fifth best by ESPN, and one of the most sought after recruits in the country. 

The other jewel is 5-star JUCO All-American DE Jason Pierre-Paul (6'6-265), one of the top JUCO linemen in the country. JPP has NFL defensive linemen dimensions, with speed and power, and will provide the Bulls with immediate help opposite Selvie.

They secured another top local talent from across the bay in 3-star DE Julius Forte (6'2-235), who's rated the 47th best defensive end by, an All-state selection, and Defensive MVP in the Pinellas County All Star game.

In 2-star DE Demi Thompson (6'2-244), ranked No. 128 by Scout, and 31st by ESPN, they get a strong athletic prospect that uses his hands well and is a solid tackler with a lot of upside. 

Rounding out the defensive ends is Luke Sager (6'4-240) the 134th best prospect at defensive end by, and ranked 54th by ESPN. A high energy player with good tools, and has a good frame to pack on size, and could also play at the  3 technique.

They staff will also get immediate help on the interior with 4-star DT Leslie Stirrups (6'3-275), one of the top JUCO DT's in the country. Stirrups was ranked as one of the best DT's coming out of high school and has been dominant at the JUCO level, being named All-MACJC team.

3-star DT Anthony Hill (6'4-301) ranked the 37th best DT prospect by; signed with FSU last year, but switched to USF this past fall and is already enrolled on campus and will get a jump start on his conditioning.

Another Post graduate is 3-star DT Kyrhi Thornton (6'3-300) ranked the 20th best prospect by ESPN, also committed to FSU last year but switched to USF while finishing up at Hargrave Military.

All three defensive tackles are big, strong BCS caliber lineman that will provide the push for the all-star defensive ends to do their damage. The Bulls defensive line class is one of the best in the nation.

USFNation Grade: A++


Linebackers (4):

With the graduation of Tyrone McKenzie and Brouce Mompremier, restocking the linebacking corps was a top priority for USF. The staff went out and targeted the top talent, and thanks to some great recruiting by the coaches, they won some tough battles and hauled in four standout prospects.

The Bulls won a fierce battle with Illinois and Miami to get their top LB prospect on the board in 3-star LB Sam Barrington (6'3-210), rated the 18th best prospect at middle linebacker by, and 47th best prospect at outside linebacker according to ESPN. A four-year starter who had more than 109 tackles, five sacks, one interception, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and six pass break-ups, while rushing for  1,188 yards with 17 TD's

Burnham is hoping for immediate help with 3-star LB Jacquian Williams, (6'4-235). A first team NJCAA All-American with 72 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, an interception and a forced fumble at Fort Scott, and was also named Defensive Player of the Week with eight solo stops, three assisted, 1TFL, an INT and 5 solo tackles on special teams. Williams has size, strength, speed, a great skill set, and after watching his video, it looks like the staff might have struck gold.

Once again the staff got a top prospect out of Georgia in 3-star LB DeDe Lattimore (6'1.5-225), ranked the 15th best SLB by, and 13th at inside linebacker by ESPN. Named to the Georgia All-Star team, and was voted Region 8-AAAA Defensive Player of the Year,

The Bulls went into the panhandle for 3-Star LB Chase Griffiths (6'3-225), ranked 43rd best SLB prospect by He played both linebacker and defensive end, earning 1A first team All-State, and has good size and speed, running a 4.63 with good coverage skills.

Wally and the staff got some of their top targets on the board, and this linebacker class has the size and the speed to run in Burnham's schemes.

USFNation Grade: -A


Defensive Backs(4):

In the defensive backfield the staff was looking to add depth and some of that top-flight Florida speed. Several of the defensive backs they signed come with elite 4.4 speed

The first defensive back to commit was 3-star CB Ricardo Dixon (5'11-168), rated the 33rd best CB by Scout, and 13th best CB by ESPN. Runs a 4.4 forty, and has good transitional quickness and great vertical speed. Was selected to play in the Hawaii All-Star Football Classic, Under Armour All-American games, and was a second team

They had to wait until the final moment to get 3-star DB Kayvon Webster (5'11-181) ranked 29th safety by, and 32nd rated athlete by ESPN. Played on all sides of the ball and earned all-state honors, and was a two-time first team All-Dade selection. Has good size, and great speed running a 4.4 forty, and a 33-inch vertical leap. Can provide run support and has enough speed to catch a play from behind.

The Bulls landed another bay area top talent in 3-star DB Jaquez Jenkins (6'2-177) rated No. 86 by Scout. Runs a 4.4, and played QB, S, WR, &  KR, but mostly quarterback as a senior, earning All-Pinellas County Offensive Player of the Year, and Honorable Mention All-State with 1,373 yards and 19 TD's with 585 yards rushing and six scores, and was all-Sun coast DB with 28 tackles one interceptions and forced four fumbles

2-star S Ivan Nicholas (5'10-180) ranked the 133rd best prospect at safety by, and was named to the first team All-First Coast team with 84 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two punt blocks and two fumble recoveries. Considered a playmaker on defense at both safety and linebacker, and is also is the brother of former Bull Stephen Nicholas.

Defensive backs Ricardo Dixon and Kayvon Webster highlight this group and truly possess elite-speed. Dixon is proven to be like glue at corner, and Jaquez has the perfect speed and build for a safety, but how he returns from injury is still a question yet to be answered. Kayvon could end up at either spot, and is a playmaker, but hasn't played corner before. Also, Kevin Williams is coming in as an athlete, but is a 3-star JUCO corner, and depending on how he and the others develop, this class has the potential to be special. 

USFNation Grade: B+


Stay tuned with for the offensive breakdown

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