Leavitt makes sure to put Webster first ...
Lots more to come, but here are some notes from Thursday's paper ...
"Kayvon Webster," USF coach Jim Leavitt said as he sat down to the microphone to announce his 2009 recruiting class.
The index card stapled to his notes had the name of the Miami Pace defensive back, and if it wasn't clear how excited Leavitt was to swipe the Hurricanes commitment out of their backyard, he made it clear Wednesday.
"I told Kayvon they would be the first two words out of my mouth if he came to (USF)," Leavitt said. "I'm doing it. I'm a man of my word."
Webster, a Miami commitment since September, followed two Pace teammates, receivers Derrick Hopkins and Sterling Griffin, to USF. Leavitt said Webster is enough of an athlete that he could play offense and defense at USF, in addition to helping on returns.
The three Pace players ran together on the state champion 4x100 relay last spring, and Hopkins is rated as one of the top sprinters in the country and will run track at USF.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR: Leavitt had the message for Webster in his news conference, and did the same for Armwood defensive end Ryne Giddins, another standout who chose USF over Florida and has Leavitt positively giddy.
"Giddins, can't wait to give you a hug," Leavitt said. "The question was asked: 'Why South Florida?' and he said 'Why not?' That's how I feel as head football coach ... For Ryne to say that, it makes me want to hug him. I want to hang out with that guy. I want to be around him. I want to go get pizza with him or go walk in a park with him. I just want to be around him, that mentality, those convictions. That's what it's going to take ... strong character, strong relentless attitude."
RANKING HIGH: USF will have its highest national ranking ever -- rated No. 25 by Scout.com, No. 29 by Rivals.com and No. 24 by ESPN.com.
"On paper, it's a tremendous class," Leavitt said. "I'm very proud of the fact that these young men have bought in and are going to be a part of continuing the story. There's great storylines ahead."
The defensive line in particular is a strength -- Leavitt called it "a staggering group," led by Giddins, Boca Ciega's Julius Forte and junior college standouts like Hillsborough's Leslie Stirrups and Deerfield Beach's Jason Pierre-Paul.
RAZING 'CANES: Webster wasn't the only player USF beat Miami to get. Linebacker Sam Barrington, who is expected to play this fall and compete for an outside starting job, chose USF over Miami and Illinois. USF signed six players from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, adding even more intrigue to their Thanksgiving-week rivalry, which opens a five-year run in Tampa this fall.
THIS AND THAT: Fort Pierce quarterback Isaac Virgin, 6-4 and 235 pounds, is big enough he could wind up at tight end, but he'll get a look at QB first. Arm strength? Flatfooted, he can throw the ball close to 70 yards, and he's accurate, too, with 15 touchdowns against four interceptions his senior year. ... The surprise addition to the class was Kevin Williams, a 2006 Gibbs graduate who has spent the past two seasons at junior colleges in California. He'll get a look on returns and could also help at defensive back.
-- At least four members of the incoming class can't join the team this fall because the NCAA limit is 25 initial scholarships. Some won't qualify academically, and others can "grayshirt" or defer their enrollment until January to count toward the 2010 class. Also, freshman linebacker Quavon Taylor won't return to the team and is transferring.