Signing day: The morning after ...
Always fun to see USF's castoffs land somewhere else, so it was with a little amusement this morning that I saw that defensive tackle Frank Harry had surfaced at Southern University. Harry was, by star-system standards, one of the jewels of last year's class, and he enrolled early in January but got homesick and quit after just a week of spring practice. We wrote the other day how the other early exit from last year's class, offensive lineman James Boger, is now at I-AA Georgia Southern.
-- Funny how recruiting works out. One target fans had been swooning for was Miami quarterback Travaris Cadet, who considered the Bulls but ended up committing to Minnesota last week. So Minnesota hires Tim Brewster as head coach, and this week, Brewster's son, a nationally ranked QB recruit, commits to the Gophers. You don't like to see kids change their mind based on another kid's decision (even if it's the coach's son), but Cadet pulled a last-minute switch and signed with Toledo on Wednesday. Not sure this makes sense either, as the Zips also signed the second-highest prep passer in Pennsylvania football history, and their top two QBs last season were a sophomore and freshman.
-- Strangest moment from signing day? After Leavitt's press conference, I'd asked about the last recruit who was really in play, Belle Glade tackle Jatavious Jackson, who was announcing at 3:30 between USF, Florida State and Clemson. So an assistant coach who'd been calling Glades Central, much like myself, gets word from the front office and passes it along to Leavitt that Jackson had signed with FIU. Yes, FIU, as in Florida International. We agreed it was one of the bigger coups of the day, shrugged in general surprise, said maybe it was just a stay-close-to-home thing. I get Jackson on the phone a few minutes later, and he corrects things: he signed with FSU, which makes more sense. Nothing against FIU, but it illustrates that USF isn't losing too many priority recruits to schools that aren't in BCS conferences anymore.
-- I'm always curious to see what position recruits are listed at, and there weren't many surprises on USF's list of signees. The only player Leavitt mentioned as someone who could play on either side of the ball was Mayo's Darren Powe, who he said could go at defensive end (where he's generally been referenced) or at tight end. Leavitt said all four running backs will be running backs this fall -- you hear a lot of promise about Tyson Butler as a corner, or Josh Bellamy as a defensive standout, but he likes the idea of all four competing for carries in August. Mike McGowan, the greyshirt tight end who will come to USF in January, is already 6-5, 255, which is 15 pounds heavier than any tight end on roster (and he'll probably grow in the 18 months between now and his first preseason) so I wouldn't be surprised if he winds up at tackle someday. McGowan said USF hadn't discussed it.
-- Never got to blog on USF's two new hires, in former Iowa State coach Dan McCarney and former USF offensive coordinator Mike Canales. McCarney is already in town, was with his fellow assistants at the Bull Ring on Wednesday to celebrate the incoming class. I had been chasing McCarney as a possible hire since early last week, and when I'd asked Jim Leavitt about the possibility, he was still thinking it was too good to be possible -- McCarney was the d-line coach at Iowa in 1989 when Leavitt was a graduate assistant, in his first year of major college coaching. A great mutual respect has developed since -- Leavitt calls him "Mac," and McCarney said he was impressed at how hard Leavitt sold him on coming to USF. McCarney remembers his first trip to Florida, in a VW bug with teammates his freshman year in college in 1971, and he's loved the state since, buying a place in Sarasota that will now be his home. Even if he's only a Bull for one season, it's a strong hire for Leavitt -- McCarney will make $140,000 at USF, making him one of the team's highest-paid assistants.
Canales was in on some impressive jobs -- had talked to Pete Carroll about a job on USC's staff, was in the mix for the N.Y. Giants quarterback coach job -- but liked the way Leavitt called him up and just said that he needed his help, wanted them to win the Big East together. Canales' offenses at Arizona disappointed, but the guy was on USF's original staff, knows the program, knows the state for recruiting, and he has NFL experience at his position, coaching the Jets' receivers in 2003. He was making $240,000 at Arizona, so he's taking a decent pay cut to come to USF, where he'll make $100,000. My understanding was that Canales would not have any formal title beyond receivers coach, but he told the Arizona newspapers he would also would be "passing game coordinator." I'm sure new offensive coordinator Greg Gregory will take all kinds of input from his offensive staff, just as Gregory played a considerable role in playcalling and game planning when Rod Smith was coordinator.
I've got lots more to write about -- chasing down a potential transfer, and USF holds its spring walk-on tryouts today, so I'm hoping to get some names as to who's selected from there. It's the same tryouts that gave the Bulls Ean Randolph and Ben Williams and other relevant, impact players, so I'm curious to see who emerges. Usually about 7-8 make it out of tryouts, then a few drop off during winter conditioning, few more during spring ball ...