Recruiting, Moffitt and more draft notes ...
Two questions I've gotten a lot in recent days: Is John Riek considering USF? And second, who is John Riek?
The first answer is yes, though I'd call it a long shot at best. Riek is a 7-foot-2, 240-pound center prospect, originally from Sudan, who played this season at Winchenden Prep in Massachusetts (where Jesus Verdejo finished his pre-college days) and then transferred in March to IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Riek played with another USF target, Teeng Akol, at Our Savior New American in New York, and he's put his name in for early entry into the NBA Draft. He hasn't signed with an agent, however, so he has the option of pulling his name out if he's unhappy with his potential draft position. I talked Wednesday with his friend and advisor, Fatah Muraisi, who said Riek would definitely consider USF is he chose to go the college route. Like most of the bubble early-entry guys, Riek is hoping to crack the draft's first round, which carries the security of a guaranteed contract.
He's been targeted by elite programs like Connecticut, Duke, Georgetown and Florida, but Muraisi said there's an interest in USF because of its programs specific to students who have English as a second language. Akol, still waiting to take the SAT for the first time, has USF as his top choice, and the two are good friends, but it's unknown whether Riek would be able to get the necessary test scores to meet the NCAA's eligibility requirements to attend a major college this fall.
His coach at Winchenden, Mike Byrnes, had nothing but good things to say about Riek but also said Riek was limited by a knee injury to only a handful of minutes in the second half of Winchenden's season. Byrnes thought it more likely that if Riek opted against the NBA this spring, he'd spend the next season at IMG, where he can both train and work on his academics.
-- First, some closure to the Ben Moffitt divorce, which was finalized Tuesday when Moffitt signed a marital settlement agreement with his wife of five years, Shauna. Here's the short story from Friday's paper, with encouraging news that they'll share equal and rotating custody of their two young children, with Ben establishing a residence in Sumter County so the children won't be moving. Moffitt will pay $983 a month in child support and will pay for college tuition for both children. There will be no alimony, though Shauna will get a lump sum essentially based on a fraction of Ben's signing bonus.
Interestingly, Ben's attorneys argued that if Shauna should get any portion of his bonus, it should be based roughly on where he would have been drafted at the time of the separation; in essence, she shouldn't benefit from anything he did since the separation to upgrade his draft position. While the attorneys say it doesn't represent any kind of draft projection, the payment to Shauna is capped at a portion of the bonus received by the 200th pick in the draft (late sixth round). If he goes in the third round, what she still gets is 16 percent of the first $150,000 in bonus money, minus taxes and agent's commissions. (There's more if the bonus is higher, but the 200th pick should get around $90,000 to $100,000 for a signing bonus). If Moffitt is drafted lower than 200th, she gets the same portion of his actual bonus. Moffitt, by the way, has signed with Marc Lillibridge, who is the agent for four Bucs players, including Quincy Black, a linebacker drafted last spring.
-- The Louisville Courier-Journal checks in on Akol with an update showing interest from Kentucky, but blogger Jody Demling writes that "it looks like (Akol) will pick from between West Virginia and South Florida. Akol is a very solid player with a lot of upside, but I don't think we'll see him in Lexington."
-- For a good national perspective on the chances of the St. Petersburg Bowl getting approved next week, check out SI.com's Stewart Mandel, who has a good writeup on the bowl situation and the problems that could come with expanding the bowl lineup beyond its current 32 teams.
-- SI.com conducted a live mock draft Thursday using beat writers from all NFL teams -- including the Times' Rick Stroud and Stephen Holder for the Bucs -- and USF cornerback Mike Jenkins was still around when the Bucs picked at No. 20. Our guys picked Jenkins for the spot (as the third cornerback taken), with the following analysis:
This will look like a homer move, but this isn't about taking the hometown kid. Jenkins' body of work at USF is what the Bucs want at cornerback -- a player who is equally proficient playing man-to-man or zone coverage. With Brian Kelly now in Detroit and Ronde Barber having recently turned 33, they could become very thin very quickly at cornerback. The Bucs are in dire need of help in the return game, which is something Jenkins offers. The Bucs need help at receiver, too, but there will be options available in the second round as well.
-- SI.com's Don Banks posted his final mock draft Friday, and it's not good news for Jenkins, as Banks has him falling clear to No. 28 to Dallas as the fourth cornerback selected, with Virginia Tech's Brandon Flowers (!) going one spot earlier: "San Diego likes that he's a high-character guy as well." Newsday, for what it's worth, likes Jenkins to go 16th to Arizona.
With only a day to go, let's go ahead and get your picks for where Jenkins goes: I'll split the difference between the optimistic Patriots/Saints picks and the Bucs crowd and put myself down for 16th to Arizona. I think Trae Williams goes in the third round, and I think Moffitt goes in the seventh.