Holtz adds five midyear transfers to help depth
USF got an early start on its 2012 recruiting class Wednesday, signing five junior college players who will transfer midyear and join the Bulls this spring, helping address depth concerns at key positions for Skip Holtz's team.
The Bulls signed two offensive linemen -- Chandlor Mathews and Lawrence Martin -- and a pair of defensive backs, Fidel Montgomery (left) and Josh Brown, along with former Texas defensive end Tevin Mims. All will have two years of eligibility with the Bulls.
"Depth was a major concern for me last year," Holtz said Wednesday. "I don't want to be put in that situation again, so we've tried to bolster some positions. Bringing midyears in, the whole class gets acclimated academically and they can get a whole semester under their belts. It'll help them get acclimated to what we're doing here socially, getting around the guys and understanding what goes into making a team. It doesn't start in August, it starts in January."
-- Positional details: Mathews likely will start as an interior lineman, getting a look at guard or center, while Martin is likely a guard or tackle. Both would have a shot at the wide-open left guard spot, and Holtz said Mathews is one of three players he'll look closely at for the center job, along with rising sophomore Austin Reiter and redshirt freshman Thor Jozwiak.
"I love the freshman offensive linemen we recruited a year ago -- I think they're going to be special players and have great careers here," Holtz said. "If you're counting on a lot of redshirt freshmen to play for you on the offensive line, that would be known as a rebuilding year."
Reiter may have a slight edge going into spring -- Holtz mentioned redshirt freshman David "Boo" Simon as a fourth option -- but said it'll be a player with little or no college playing experience. "We have names there, but there aren't a lot of proven commodities there," he said. "That's definitely a question that has to be answered in spring ball."
-- In the secondary, rising junior JaQuez Jenkins will go into spring as a safety behind likely starters Jon Lejiste and Mark Joyce. If USF can't find solid depth at cornerback, he could wind up back there, but the goal is to have him as one of three experienced veteran safeties.
Incoming freshman cornerback Chris Bivins of Gainesville, due to enroll next month, injured his knee in his last game, and the injury will keep him from participating in spring drills at USF. The Bulls won't know if he needs surgery until he arrives on campus in two weeks -- even if he undergoes surgery to repair ligament damage, he'll have a chance to compete for playing time as a true freshman.
Bivins' injury factored in USF's decision to sign two midyear defensive backs, both of which could wind up at safety or cornerback. Of the two, Montgomery is more likely to be a safety, while Brown is more likely a cornerback.
-- Here's a pic (left) of Mathews from his signing day, and as we mentioned, the other incoming lineman Martin is athletic enough to have played some point guard in high school, with a triple-double on his resume. "That tells you a little about his feet. He's a 300-pound athlete, which is one of the things that attracted us to him," Holtz said.
-- Transactions update -- freshman defensive tackle Marquis White, an intriguing prospect who played one year of prep school football after not playing in high school in Orlando, is no longer with the football team due to academic problems. His departure is somewhat offset by an "extremely encouraging" fall semester in the classroom from rising sophomore Todd Chandler, who was ineligible this past fall.