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Bulls hope for strong finish on signing day

31

January

TAMPA -- It has been a quiet final month of recruiting for USF, but if Wednesday pans out as expected -- beating out Big East rivals for a pair of in-state prospects -- the Bulls will have closed out their 2012 class as a relative success.

Skip Holtz hopes to hear good news today from Gainesville linebacker Tashon Whitehurst, who had been a Syracuse commitment, and Oakland Park offensive lineman Kam Davis, who is deciding between USF and West Virginia. Both are rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com, which has USF with the fifth-best class in the Big East. Holtz will have made it through January without losing a commitment, despite defensive coordinator Mark Snyder leaving for Texas A&M.

USF has held onto a pair of four-star recruits in Orlando receiver D'Vario Montgomery and Citra North Marion tight end Sean Price -- Montgomery was targeted by LSU in the past week, with Price drawing strong interest from Oklahoma and Georgia. And Holtz brought in eight newcomers in January (nine with grayshirt WR Alex Mut), giving them an early start to help fill the holes on a team that returns a strong nucleus from last fall's 5-7 team.

There are positions that have not been addressed -- the lack of a quarterback means USF will be gambling heavily on being able to land an elite passer in the next year, preparing for the post-B.J. Daniels era in 2013. Running back, too, will be a position where USF can honestly sell top 2013 recruits on early playing time, with only one scholarship back younger than a junior on the fall roster.

Holtz went into this recruiting season with only 14 scholarships available due to a small senior class, and going into tomorrow's signings, the Bulls have a 19-member class that Scout.com rates as the worst in the Big East and 70th nationally. But with a strong close and the benefits of spring practice for nearly half the newcomers, it should be a class that can help the Bulls with depth at key positions in 2012.

BIG OPPORTUNITY: Halfway through the Big East season, USF's women's basketball team is 12-10 and 4-4 in conference, but if the Bulls can get a home win tonight against West Virginia (15-6, 5-3), there's much in play in the next month.

USF has played well in its seven games since junior Inga Orekhova joined the team, and Jose Fernandez has tweaked his lineup, moving freshman guard Shalethia Stringfield and junior forward Tiffany Conner into the starting lineup. Despite having top scorer Andrea Smith miss the season with a knee injury, USF has a chance to finish in the top half of the Big East standings.

Of the remaining eight games, only Notre Dame can be written off as a sure loss, and a 6-2 finish would put the Bulls at 18-12 entering the Big East tournament, where an upset could put them on the NCAA bubble.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 6:59pm]

    

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