When USF coach Charlie Strong is sizing up an opponent before a game, his first telling look is the big men on the line of scrimmage, and toward that end, he's excited that nearly half of his 26-player recruiting class is comprised by defensive (8) and offensive (4) linemen.
"If you look at the really good teams … I look at the linemen first, to see whether we have a chance or not," Strong said. "It's a need for us, and you always want to build there."
The class includes four defensive tackles – the biggest joined up on Wednesday in 310-pound John Waller of Admiral Farragut – and four defensive ends, some as light and quick as 220-pound Trey Laing of Tallahassee Godby.
"(Waller) is a big guy that can move. He has some quickness to him," Strong said. "You watch his highlight tape on defense, he just wreaked havoc. A lot of times, they didn't even block him. You're just hoping he can come in and be that staple in the middle that we need."
QB BATTLE: USF's incoming class includes two quarterbacks in Plant's Jordan McCloud and Atlanta's Octavious Battle. Strong said both will get a shot this fall to take over for the now-departed Quinton Flowers, though returning backups Chris Oladokun and Brett Kean have a head start.
"They're going to get a chance to come in and compete," Strong said. "Q never got hurt, so he never gave a chance to the other two backups, but they'll get a chance, with Battle and McCloud, to come in and compete and see where they are."
CHANGES ALREADY: Strong said he's already seeing physical changes since players signed in December – LB Antonio Grier, an early enrollee has already added 12 pounds in his first month on campus, and OL Sebastian Sainterling has dropped about 15 pounds to his current weight of 340.
THIS AND THAT: Of USF's 26 signees, 22 are from Florida high schools and three others from Georgia, the lone outlier being P Trent Schneider, from Sydney, Australia. Strong had an Australian punter at Texas in Michael Dickson, who won the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter in 2017. … Strong said he will add a 10th assistant coach to his staff in the near future, and while he hasn't yet decided who, there's a chance he'll help with the kicking game on special teams. … Strong said tight end and linebacker are two positions where USF needs to find answers this spring after taking key departures from last season. "It's where we're hurt," he said.