Have you read about Ford lately?
I'm not doing a good job of staying away from work this week. Big, or at least potentially big news broken Thursday by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which reported that Mike Ford, one of the Sarasota area's biggest football prospects ever, plans to enroll at USF next month.
First, let me introduce you to Ford. Big and bruising at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he rushed for 2,836 yards and 37 touchdowns as a high school senior in 2004, including a ridiculous run of 11 consecutive games with more than 200 rushing yards. Only longer streak in state history, the Herald-Tribune says, is Frostproof's Travis Henry, who is now the Tennessee Titans' Travis Henry. Signed with Alabama in 2005, didn't qualify academically and spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. According to the Herald-Tribune, he qualified this fall and had intended to enroll at Alabama in January, but the firing of Mike Shula (and subsequent limbo, I'd think) led him to change his mind. He's a cousin to USF receiver Amarri Jackson, which only adds to the close-to-home card for the Bulls.
If you read the initial Herald-Tribune story by Alan Dell, Ford's mother is pretty unequivocal in saying her son has been cleared academically. That said, USF's registrar's office has no record of Mike Ford in its system, something that could simply mean that he hasn't applied or registered for classes, which don't start until Jan. 9. The only potential hurdle here is the academic one -- he certainly is interested in USF, and he's a five-star recruit the Bulls have wanted since he was in high school, so there's little doubt of their interest. But academics are what have kept him from college football for two years, so it's not something to easily dismiss. It's a huge development that could address what is one of USF's major concerns for 2007: finding a reliable, durable running back to complement Matt Grothe.
Speaking of guys who could be at USF in January, I have two updates: linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, who had 129 tackles at Iowa State last season, has registered for spring classes at USF, another strong indication he's transferring and joining the Bulls as a walk-on. McKenzie is hoping to get a hardship waiver that will allow him to play this fall at USF, giving him two years of eligibilty with the Bulls. He's not making any public comments, but if I were USF's coaches, I'd want him to stay very quiet until he'd set foot on campus for classes next month. If this goes through, I'd expect him to start and be an impact player on defense this fall.
And Kevin Williams, the former Gibbs cornerback who nobody writes about, reaffirmed Thursday that he will be attending classes at USF this spring on scholarship, making him the first new member of USF's 2007 recruiting class (not counting the '06 guys who made grades and will start school this spring as well). Remember, Williams would have gone to West Virginia if he'd made grades last year, and the Mountaineers were pushing hard for him this past month, so he's a name to remember as much as some of the standard high school seniors who have committed for February.