Heading into the ‘09 recruiting season the staff realized there were many needs they had to fill and with a limited amount of scholarships, the task wouldn't be easy. Add in a coaching change extremely late in the process, and matters became even harder. The hill they had to climb was steep, and it would be an accomplishment just to salvage the class. With Skip Holtz taking over with less than a month until signing day, the signing class the Bulls put together was impressive.
Overall USF signed 19 players, with 15 players added on Wednesday to join the four early enrollees. The class is made up of ten offensive players eight defensive players, with one specialist. They shored up the lines by signing four offensive linemen and three on the defensive side of the ball. On offense the Bulls also added three running backs, two wide receivers one quarterback. On defense the Bulls added three defensive backs, three defensive linemen, and two linebackers, and one punter/kicker.
The Bulls signed one of the smaller classes in the Big East, but filled needs and added several big time prospects including two ESPNU Top 150 prospects, Hillsborough 4-star defensive back Terrence Mitchell and Miami-Northwestern 3-star defensive lineman Todd Chandler. They also signed a stud JUCO defensive lineman in 4-star DE Claude Davis.
Here's how the staff at USFNation.com grades the Bulls 2010 recruiting class.
Offensive Breakdown (10)
QB: The Bulls don't have any real depth at the position. Brion Carnes was supposed to be that guy, but USF cut ties after he opened things back up. Enter Jamius Gunsby, a 6'4-220 pound quarterback from LaGrange HS GA that has the body to play several college positions, but is first coming in as a QB. Even though his size seems more suited for a pro-style system, Gunsby's style however, allows him to play in a spread offense. The Gators even saw him as Tim Tebow-like player which is a huge compliment at the collegiate level. Due to issues that happened earlier in career caused many top schools hesitation in offering him. Depending on how the current roster shakes out he could see early time as a back-up. If not, he's an intriguing prospect at TE/WR. Back in December, USF had commitments from two of the top quarterbacks in the state in Brion Carnes and Jeffrey Godfrey only to end up with Jamius Gunsby on signing day which certainly affects the grade. However it was the staff that dropped Carnes and decided Gunsby was their man. Grade: C-/D+
RB: The Bulls brought in three backs this class. Tiger Powell who was an absolute work-horse and a wrecking ball for Columbia. He's got size, toughness, durability and enough speed to take it to the house. Desoto County's Marcus Shaw could be the steal at the position. Shaw was the state's leading rusher and certainly has the potential to be very special down the road. Blinn College's Michael Hayes was a late addition, but he looks like a mini-diesel truck with a Corvette engine. Hayes was a highly productive player for the JUCO National Champions and comes in as ideal fit for a Skip Holtz offense. He adds instant depth at the position. Grade: B
WR: The Bulls signed two receivers who both flew under the radar. Deonte Welch, the 3-star Williston playmaker and small school offensive player of the year. Holding offers from several SEC schools, Welch could be the late steal of this class. Columbia's 3-star WR Jamaal Montague may just be the offensive sleeper of the class. His numbers at the high school level were staggering and if he does qualify academically, could end up being an immediate impact player. Both of these players are long on potential, but will need some seasoning. Losing Ace Sanders along with a few earlier targets hurts, but these two kids have a high potential to make some noise on offense. This grade would be higher if Montague was a lock to qualify and if Welch solely focused on wide receiver as opposed to playing running back because of team necessity. Many would say the grade should be lower because of the names they didn't get, but if everybody knew of Welch earlier and the SEC offers he had, they might think differently. Wait until you see these kids highlight videos Grade: C++/B-
OL: The Bulls needed bodies and got some big ones. At 6'8-330 pounds 3-star Jake Kaufman is a massive offensive tackle. He needs to develop but with his size, he has potential. Quinterrius Eatmon is another huge lineman that has the size of a true OT. He plays down south in Alabama against good competition and with some hard work in the weight room, has the ability to be a good one. Glades Day's Tony Kibler is a mauler who was part of a state championship team. After losing some weight he has potential to be productive interior lineman as well. Austin Reiter of Lakewood Ranch is the smallest of the bunch but has great technique and is the type of player coaches love to develop. It's hard to say how big of a loss Jose Jose is yet, (no pun intended, but losing him to UCF is never fun. The staff really addressed depth which was a big concern last offseason and got some true bodies at tackle. Grade: B+
Defensive Breakdown (8)
DL: The staff signed three defensive linemen in this class. 3-star Todd Chandler is the big name, an ESPN-150 kid, and an Under Armour All-American. He also gives the Bulls a foothold at talent-producing Miami-Northwestern High School. JUCO 4-star DE Claude Davis who is originally from Lake Gibson has always been one of my favorite players. He was highly productive in high school and tore it up at the JUCO level. He's an early enrollee that will add immediate help, and soften the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul to the NFL. Venice's 3-star DE Brandon Wilkinson, looked impressive on the field, and is a hard working competitive d-lineman with a high motor and good upside. Being an early enrollee will give him a good jump start. He will certainly need to add weight and strength in order to be productive at the D-1 level. They could have used another DT, but it's a good overall haul for the Bulls. Grade: B++
LB: Signing a few linebackers was a big need, but this year's crop was very thin. They tried to land the few studs but so was everybody else. Chaminade-Madonna's Hans Louis was the key late addition. The Sun Sentinel small school Defensive Player of the year flew under the radar, but is a player with a big heart and upside. JUCO OLB Curtis Weatherspoon from Dean College and Valdosta, GA was an early target and with his great speed, has the ability to play DB or OLB. The early enrollee will have an opportunity to play immediately. USF would probably have liked to land one more of their top prospects but with other players in this class potentially moving to linebacker it softens the blow. The staff would have loved to pull the late switch with UF commit Michael Taylor and Nebraska commit Lavonte David but that's the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Grade: C
DB: This was another area of need for USF, and landing their number one target in Hillsborough's Terrence Mitchell was the key to this class. The 4-star CB was heavily coveted and committed to FSU before switching to the hometown Bulls. They also landed Deland's 3-star DB Mark Joyce who is great in run support, and is a talented athlete that could develop into a fine player with solid coaching. The sleeper of this position could be Reshard Cliett, a 6'2-200 pound safety with great speed, who was injured for the majority of his sophomore and junior seasons. He'll come in at safety but could play OLB as well. He's a player that possesses legitimate 4.5 speed and great tackling ability. The Bulls might have found another diamond in the rough in Thomasville County. This class would have had a higher grade if they had sealed the deal on their other top targets, but being able to pry their top target Mitchell, was a feat by itself. Grade: B++
Specialist Breakdown (1)
K/P: Chris Veron out of Ocala Forest was an early commit, and will come in with hopes of being the starting punter in 2010. Also there are still talks of adding a late walk-on in Barron Collier's Marvin Kloss. The addition of Kloss would boost the position however with three scholarship kickers; you have to be careful with the numbers. Grade: C
Overall Grade: This is probably the hardest class to grade since we've been evaluating the signing classes. I almost have to give it two grades, one for the guys they actually signed, and one for the effort done simply to get the ones they did. They started with a small amount of scholarships, making it difficult from the very beginning, and the coaching change extremely late in the process made things even harder. The hill they had to climb was steep, and it would have been an accomplishment just to salvage the class. But that's what they did, and by the time it was all over, the Bulls landed two defensive studs in DB Terrence Mitchell and DT Todd Chandler. The staff filled several needs at running back, and also shored up the defensive and offensive lines. They added two playmaker receivers in Montague and pried Welch from Arkansas, and flipping LB Hans Louis was a key late addition, with the rest of the class being made up of players with high character and high potential.
Considering Skip Holtz was hired with less than a month until signing day, he performed an admirable job. He was able to flip Terrence Mitchell from FSU and re-affirm Todd Chandler's early commitment, which were both huge coups in their own right. Although I'm sure the staff would have liked for a few more things to have gone their way, it remains a solid class that addressed a few key areas. For all intents and purposes, I will give Coach Holtz a mulligan on this class if some of the players do not pan out but his next recruiting class will be a true test of his ability lure to talent to Tampa. Overall Grade: B-/C+