Doing the math: Bulls need room for recruits
Most fans know that college football teams are limited to 25 scholarship players joining a team in a given year, and with National Signing Day now just nine days away, it's time to answer an annual question: Just how many recruits will sign with the Bulls next week?
It's a complicated answer, because teams can sign more than 25 players, so long as only 25 join the team on scholarship in the fall. I've heard that USF might sign as many as 30 players, knowing some won't qualify academically (so signing is just a gesture to establish a relationship for when they're coming out of junior college or prep school) and some might be "grayshirted" -- having their enrollment deferred until January, when they can count against next year's class.
As it stands, USF is generally listed with 23 commitments, but there are still a lot of scholarships in play with recruits who have yet to make their college decisions. And remember that defensive tackle Anthony Hill, who joined the team earlier this month, can roll back as part of last year's class, which had just 24 members. Still, the limit of 25 "initial" scholarships isn't the only one the Bulls are bumping up against.
Programs are limited to 85 total scholarships at any point, and after graduation and the attrition we're aware of -- we've reported that Danny Tolley (medical), Shane McElwain (graduation) and Marvin Peoples (graduation) won't be back -- the Bulls have 64 players returning on scholarship. (This also doesn't include quarterback Grant Gregory, who could hear back on an NCAA appeal for a sixth year this week).
With 64 kids back, that leaves USF with only 21 scholarships available for the fall, but more room could be cleared out by standard offseason turnover of players transferring to smaller schools or otherwise moving on. Freshman linebacker Quavon Taylor, for instance, wasn't with the team most of the fall, suspended by coach Jim Leavitt, though he is registered as a full-time student at USF this spring.
Interestingly, the 64 returning players is heavy on the offensive side -- 35 players on offense, 26 on defense and three on special teams.