Four USF freshmen held out awaiting NCAA OK
USF has already had seven players from its recruiting class not make it to campus because of academic issues, and four more freshmen -- defensive ends Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte, tight end Isaac Virgin and running back Bradley Battles -- were held out of Monday's practice as they await final clearance from the NCAA Clearinghouse.
"We feel very positive about all of them," coach Jim Leavitt said after practice. "I think they will be cleared. I hope."
Giddins, a standout at Armwood who chose the Bulls over national champion Florida last spring, would be the most significant loss, though USF has solid depth in returning players at defensive end. Forte, from Boca Ciega, is also in contention to play as a true freshman; Battles and Virgin were expected to redshirt this fall. Giddins' issue likely has to do with seven online classes he took at Armwood as part of a "grade replacement" program, a high number likely to draw scrutiny from the NCAA.
Seven of USF's 29 signees didn't make it to campus, either because they weren't cleared by the NCAA or approved by the school's academic committee. Two have since signed with other major colleges, with defensive tackle Khyri Thornton going to Southern Miss and center Kamran Joyer going to Louisville.
-- Redshirt freshman receiver Daniel Bryant, who was unlikely to be in USF's two-deep entering the season, will not play in 2009 because an NCAA academic issue, Leavitt said.
Bryant, who played in one game last season but was given a medical redshirt, has passed the NCAA minimum of 24 hours in the past year and has maintained at least a 2.0 grade-point average, but cannot play this season, Leavitt said.
"He's got all the hours, he's got grades. .. .We thought the NCAA would clear him, but we didn't get the waiver approved," Leavitt said. "Daniel's not ready anyway. He's got over 24 hours and a 2.0."
-- Leavitt said senior quarterback Matt Grothe's hamstring, which had kept him out of two scrimmages last week, is at "about 90 percent," enough so that Grothe helped simulate Wofford's triple-option offense as the Bulls prepare for their season opener. "He's not that bad. He could go," Leavitt said.
-- Junior offensive linemen Jake Sims practiced at full strength Monday after being sidelined by a muscle strain in his neck. "It's going to take Sims a while to get back in there," Leavitt said. "We have a lot of confidence in him. He's played a lot of football."