Recruiting notes: McGeoghan, Fitch draw praise
For a day that had few actual surprises, there's a ton of notes to share about USF's 2012 recruiting class -- today's the first chance we have to talk to Skip Holtz and his staff about the players and exactly how they fit in. It might not all come today, and we'll get a post up that's just coaches talking about the 11 new additions today, since we addressed the nine midyear guys last month.
-- Holtz praised his whole staff for their recruiting efforts, but assistants Phil McGeoghan and Todd Fitch are picking up a lot of attention. McGeoghan was tabbed by 247sports.com as one of the nation's top 50 recruiters after serving as primary recruiter for three of USF's top signees in tight end Sean Price, cornerback Chris Bivins and linebacker Tashon Whitehurst. Fitch, who recruits the Orlando area for USF, helped the Bulls land five players from there, including top receiver D'vario Montgomery and athletic defensive end Guito Ervilus.
"Todd Fitch does a great job -- he's recruited Orlando for a long time," said Holtz, who had Fitch recruiting Central Florida when they were together at Connecticut in the mid-1990s. "He has a great relationship with a lot of the high school coaches in the area. I think he does a great job of not only evaluating talent but recruiting them and developing a relationship with them."
When they were at East Carolina, Holtz and Fitch also got running back Chris Johnson -- now a Pro Bowl running back with the Titans -- from Orlando's Olympia High, where USF landed linebacker Corian Hamilton last year and his cousin, defensive tackle James Hamilton, in this class.
-- The strong Orlando presence was in contrast to the lack of local recruits -- if Plant City receiver LaMarlin Wiggins has to go to junior college as expected, the only newcomer from Hillsborough or Pinellas counties will be Armwood safety Jarvis McCall.
"We probably didn't sign the number (of locals) that I would like to, because there's a lot of talented players," Holtz said. "When you're only signing one linebacker, when the one linebacker commits, you're done, and it's hard because you know you're going to drive past some guys that are going to play college football that are very talented players. ... I think we have a great image in Orlando right now. It's far enough away that they don't have to worry about Mom or Dad knocking on their dorm room, but at the same time, close enough they have the opportunity to go home for a weekend."
-- Price, rated among the nation's top seven tight ends by Rivals, Scout and ESPN, committed to USF back in June, but saw national powers like Oklahoma and Georgia recruiting him to the very end. He got a call from Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly even Wednesday morning but said nothing was changing his mind.
"I've known it was USF from Day One," said Price, who said he will wear No. 21 for the Bulls. "The coaches have been recruiting me for a while and they kept it real throughout the whole process. I respect them a lot for that. ... It's not only a big opportunity for me, but a big opportunity for the team as well to take it to the next level and blow everyone's minds. This is the beginning of a great four or five years for me and for USF."
-- Defensive end Daniel Perry of Fort Lauderdale brings considerable reach to USF's pass rush -- the Bulls are listing him at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, and while he put himself at 6-7, his size is unquestionable. He's athletic enough he just rejoined University School's basketball team, which is ranked No. 10 in ESPN's state rankings with a 20-2 record and needed a big man in the post.
Perry's brother, David, is a defensive end at Miami, and he said his family is trying to split its college clothing evenly between the two loyalties.
"We kind of have the house divided thing," Perry said. "Everybody's excited to watch us. There's one week out of the year they have to be torn, but the rest of the year they're supporting both of us. (David) is real excited for me to go to USF. We can get the competition going."
-- USF's offensive staff is excited about the athleticism of Georgia offensive lineman Kofi Amichia, comparing his skill set to that of rising sophomore Darrell Williams, who played a bit as a true freshman last fall. "I watched Kofi play on tape, and he's as athletic as Darrell is, but a little bigger," Fitch said. "He can move. They showed me his tape last spring and I said 'Go get him.' I watched five plays of Darrell Williams my first day on the job two years ago and said 'Holy cow, let's go get him.' Those are the guys you know are going to be the staples of your program."
-- Wednesday's big additions were Lauderhill offensive tackle Kam Davis and Gainesville linebacker Tashon Whitehurst. Holtz said he saw Whitehurst last fall when he was watching teammate and fellow USF signee Chris Bivins during a bye week and left impressed with the linebacker's playmaking abilities.
"Very active player, makes tackles sideline to sideline, could play inside or outside," Holtz said. "I went to watch (Bivins) play during the open date and walked off the field and said 'Who in the world is 21?' He makes every tackle on the field, he's all over the place, and I'm really excited to get him to commit to South Florida. Very versatile, athletic linebacker that's going to help us down the road."
-- Holtz said he had planned to start spring practice the first week of March, but to allow more time for new defensive coordinator Chris Cosh to prepare himself and his assistants, the Bulls will now start practice after spring break on March 21, with two spring games tentatively set for April 7 and 14, again with one on campus at the soccer/track stadium and one at Raymond James Stadium, as was the case last year.
-- Holtz mentioned one minor position change -- redshirt freshman Clavion Nelson is moving inside from defensive end to "three-technique" defensive tackle, having gone from 220 pounds last summer to about 270 pounds right now. "The way he's growing and eating, he's going to be down there, nestled in next to Cory Grissom, Elkino Watson and those guys," Holtz said.
-- Holtz addressed the lack of a scholarship quarterback in the class -- Palmetto's Trenton Miller will come in as a preferred walk-on -- but Holtz said after losing commitment Tyler Cameron to Wake Forest in December, he didn't want to add a quarterback just out of necessity.
"We would have liked to have a quarterback," Holtz said. "When you looked at some of the quarterbacks that were available, we were behind, and I did not want to take one just to take one. At that point, I said I'd rather hold onto it. I feel very comfortable with our quarterback situation right now ... We'll address it in next year's recruiting class. We were on the phone with juniors today. It's already started. Young men have already started committing for the 2013 class. ... It will definitely be a priority as we move forward. ... Without a doubt, you have a chance to get one of those difference makers."