Football update: Shields to take grayshirt
Lots of little football updates to get to, so many so that I'll have to save some for Wednesday. We told you Tuesday morning that defensive end Donnell Engram was headed to junior college, and now we can report that another USF signee won't be reporting with his classmates this week: Wharton tight end Andreas Shields is "grayshirting," which is super-cool football-speak for deferring his enrollment until January and counting toward next year's recruiting class.
Shields would have been headed for a redshirt this fall, and coaches are hoping he can use this fall to add bulk to his frame, which was listed at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds on signing day. If you go to USF's site and check out the "coaches comment" video clip of offensive coordinator Greg Gregory talking about Shields back in February, you hear familiar things: "He knows he has to get bigger, to get stronger," he says.
Another signee who has been discussed as a potential grayshirt, Coral Springs' Evan Landi, will be with the Bulls this fall as scheduled, and as a quarterback, though like many recruits, he could wind up at another position eventually. Landi won't be the only new quarterback, as Tyler Stowell, a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder from St. Petersburg Northside Christian, will join the team as a walk-on when school starts in late August. Stowell didn't have incredible numbers at Northside, but was athletic enough to finish in the top three in the state in both hurdles events in track this spring.
Two USF signees from junior college aren't done with classwork in time to start summer classes at USF, but it's not bad news. I talked Tuesday with defensive end David Bedford, who could step in as a starter opposite George Selvie. He had good news: the five (5!) classes he was taking this summer at Independence Community College are completed, and he can take his final class, an English course, here in Tampa at Hillsborough Community College, then start classes this fall.
"It's been hell. Just so many classes," Bedford said. "But it's worth it, to know I will be at USF and playing football this fall. It's a great opportunity for me."
Cornerback Theo Wilson got his associate of arts degree from Pearl River Community College, but he needs to raise his grade-point average, so he's taking a class at HCC as well and still looks to be in position to join the Bulls in August. If the Bulls open camp in August with only one or two academic casualties from signing day, that's an impressive improvement from the last few years.
One more name that's been bounced around since February: offensive lineman Justin Green, who made headlines when he couldn't sign with the Bulls because he wasn't cleared by USF's new academic committee, will not be at USF this fall. He has worked hard this spring to rectify the issues that kept him from being cleared, but won't be part of USF's incoming class. The offensive line is still well-represented in the freshmen arriving on campus this week, and 6-foot-8 junior college standout Zach Hanson could be joining the group soon after making a campus visit over the weekend.
I've got a bunch of new walk-ons to share, but one I can confirm tonight: Wharton fullback LaDre Watkins, who checked in for orientation Tuesday, excited about joining the Bulls. Here's the twist: USF took him as an outside linebacker, which suits his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame. Thing is, he hasn't played defense since he was 8 years old. "I've always liked the program, and they've recruited me since I was a sophomore," said Watkins, who is listed as rushing for 335 yards and four touchdowns last fall on Wharton's Maxpreps.com page.
Watkins had a scholarship offer from I-AA Elon, USF's opening opponent last season, and had Florida Atlantic coaches like him enough to make a personal visit to his home. He's smart enough that Vanderbilt recruited him, with a 4.3 weighted GPA and a National Honor Society line on his resume. Sharp kid, and quick enough to play safety, perhaps. He'll join another Wharton grad, running back Joel Miller, who made the team back in spring.
Lots more to come Wednesday, including the huge recruiting haul the Bulls had over the weekend, more walk-ons, good news for the basketball team and more ...