Recruiting update: New walk-on
It's been too long since we had some real walk-on news on the blog -- I completely missed a chance to mention the USF debuts of basketball walk-ons Jared Rubens and Bobby Torres in the win against Florida International last week.
Anyway, Thursday's Times has a note detailing a promising recruit who is set to enroll in USF in January as a walk-on: former South Sumter quarterback Jarrod Fleming. If you don't know the name, Fleming was the state's Class 2A Player of the Year in 2005, a first-team all-state selection who passed for 66 touchdowns at Sumter and rushed for another 19. His senior year, he threw for 28 touchdowns while tossing only three interceptions. Because of his size -- he's 5-11, 180 pounds -- he's probably not a quarterback at USF, but with speed that coach Inman Sherman says is a legit 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, he can definitely get a look at receiver or cornerback.
Fleming took a football scholarship to the U.S. Naval Academy last summer, and all football players spend a transition year at NAPS, the Naval Academy Preparatory School, in Newport, Rhode Island. For whatever reason, Fleming didn't find that a match, so after one semester, he's transferring, and he met with Bulls coaches on Tuesday and also stopped by the admissions offices to submit an application for enrollment. Because he's a walk-on, he has to get in to USF on his own steam, but Sherman was confident he'd able to get in and make an impact for the Bulls.
More football: Wanted to give an update from USF North, Pearl River Community College in Mississippi, where it appears the Bulls will miss out on most of Pearl River's top D-I prospects. Receiver Larry Freeman has committed to Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, and PRCC's other top receiver, Demetrius Byrd, now appears headed to LSU. Defensive end Brian Coulter has committed to Florida State, and quarterback Mike Greco, who was lost for the season with a broken collarbone, made a visit to Central Florida this past weekend. USF has one player coming in former Plant linebacke Donte Spires, who had a monster year in his only season playing for Pearl River. As for Carlton Hill, who will start at quarterback when Pearl River plays in its bowl game Dec. 9, Hatten said he still expects Hill to return to USF as originally planned. Hill would like to turn some heads with a strong game on the 9th, but Hatten said he believes Hill will wind up back at USF.
Another fun note: USF has made a few calls to inquire about Gino Gradkowski, a 6-foot-3, 287-pound offensive lineman from Pittsburgh who is the younger brother of Bucs rookie QB Bruce Gradkowski. He committed to West Virginia back in June and told me Wednesday he remains firm on that commitment, though he'd open up his recruiting if coach Rich Rodriguez were to leave Morgantown for a bigger opening. He said USF would be one of his top options in that case, calling the chance to play in the same city as his brother an "incredible situation." Something to check up on should anything change with Rodriguez.
A former Bull update: Chad Simpson, the Miami Edison running back who transferred to I-AA Morgan State, put together a nice season, rushing for 795 yards and nine touchdowns, good enough to rank fourth in the MEAC. Morgan State finished 5-6, but Simpson had another strong game on Nov. 4, rushing for 192 yards and two scores against Norfolk State. While we're catching up, former USF linebacker Ronnie McCullough had a team-high 73 tackles at Bethune-Cookman, while teammate Josh Balloon had 50.
Basketball: Just to follow up, Hillsborough Community College held a funeral service Tuesday in Tampa for Kenie Freeman, the 20-year-old Nigerian who collapsed and died after a team practice in Ohio earlier this month. Coach Derrick Worrels reports that his team is working through the grieving process, not an easy thing to do during a season. USF, which had been a frontrunner to sign Freeman for next season and remains a top choice for his friend and teammate Ejike Hart, had head coach Robert McCullum and assistants Frank Burnell and Charles Cunningham in attendance at his funeral. HCC is at home Thursday night against IMG Academy, if anybody's interested.
One more thing I forgot to mention: In looking at Fort Valley State's roster after last week's suicide of former USF assistant Andre Waters, I noticed a familiar name: ex-Bulls safety Drametrice Smith. Smith saw very limited playing time at USF, in part due to lingering injuries, and the tough luck followed him north -- he didn't register a tackle this season after suffering an ankle injury in September. One newspaper article I found showed him catching a pass, but he's not listed in FVSU's statistics, so that might be a roster/numbering mistake. Not sure if he'd go after it, but I believe Smith would be eligible for a medical redshirt.
A blogger at Denverbroncos.com seems to think Andre Hall could be promoted to the Broncos' active roster soon, and here's a fun note: In a span of three weeks, he's been the scout-team simulator for LaDainian Tomlinson, Larry Johnson and Shaun Alexander. Could you find three better backs to try to act like if you wanted to impress coaches? USF's other NFL rookie, Lions guard Frank Davis, has been inactive for Detroit's last four games, but the Detroit Free Press dropped his name this week as a possible player who could get a look in the last month of the season, since the Lions at 2-9 don't have much else to accomplish with their season.