Thoughts on 22 new USF players ...
Here's how I know it was a busy day: My crappy, one-star cellphone didn't make it to 5:15 p.m. tonight.
I'm talking to recruiting coordinator Carl Franks, who has probably piled up some minutes this month, and he's midsentence, and the phone battery gave up. One of those perfect deals where you're a half-hour away from your charger and don't have time to get to the charger for at least two hours. Remind me next year to pack the charger everywhere I go ...
Anyway, lots of calls today, lots of conversations, lots of thoughts on this recruiting class. This is going to be way, way too long a post, but I'll limit myself to 10 distinct thoughts and their accompanying ramblings and/or tangents. I'll throw in 10 more in the morning, just to pace myself.
1. The signing of B.J. Daniels puts a big exclamation point on this class. Jim Leavitt said he was USF's No. 1 target at quarterback, and his coach at Lincoln, Kyle Rice, said he should be. Four-year starter, and Greg Gregory likes the Matt Grothe combo of throwing and running. One ranking has him with the fifth-strongest arm in the country, but Rice said what you can't see on Youtube is how smart a leader he is. "He's a coach on the field," Rice said. "He certainly understands football, and he understands leadership." The B, for the record, is for Bruce. Remind me to talk more about him and basketball on Thursday.
2. I wouldn't be surprised to see George Baker returning kicks this fall. He's that fast. USF cites a 4.38 40 time and drops in a 38-inch vertical right after that. He's tiny at 168 pounds, but they don't need him to be a corner, even a nickel, this fall. He rushed for 1,010 yards on 93 carries as a junior, which works out to more than an 11-yard average. Added 1,643 on 209 carries with 19 touchdowns this fall. To pry him away from an Auburn commitment, it's strong recruiting work by Larry Scott and Troy Douglas.
3. There's a great clip on gousfbulls.com where Dan McCarney talks about going to see David Bedford during USF's bye week. He says he's watching Bedford and thinking that he and George Selvie would be the best pair of defensive ends in college football. And Bedford -- like Craig Marshall -- is a three-year guy, which means he'll be there after Selvie's gone. Had 13.5 sacks last year. He and Kion Wilson will make the biggest impact of any signees during the 2008 season. Is it too much to ask USF to sign another end named Stuyvesant?
4. Leavitt made a great comment about Maikon Bonani in saying that when the kicker made his official visit, Delbert Alvarado was his host. Nothing says team better than trying to convince someone to become your biggest competition in the fall. We've talked about Bonani's leg here on the blog, and between him and punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann, I don't think you'll see Alvarado needing to handle kicks, punts and kickoffs in the same game this fall. Leavitt already had two returning kickers on scholarship, so he's clearly allocating resources to special teams.
5. Speaking of which, Leavitt is excited about Miami Northwestern linebacker Quavon Taylor. He saw the way Taylor made plays everywhere on defense, and thinks the kid can be a difference maker on special teams, potentially on all four returns and coverage teams. Miami loaded up with eight Northwestern kids, but give USF credit for going in and getting a leader from that defense -- they went into Texas and ended a 49-game win streak in front of 31,000 fans. I think we'll write a lot about how small he is, over and over, before he's done.
6. Guess who I need to thank for giving me Jatavious Jackson's phone number? That'd be Jessie Hester Sr., the new head coach at Glades Central, which gives USF a great, great in at an absolute powerhouse. Jackson, also from Belle Glade, was the last-second surprise of the class, literally signing minutes before Leavitt's news conference. He signed with FSU last year, never got through the NCAA Clearinghouse, and how's this for three impressive "other offers": LSU, West Virginia and Clemson. "Every year, that program makes progress," Jackson said Wednesday night. "I like what's going on there." He'll be a defensive tackle at USF, and he and Danous Estenor could be a huge upgrade on the second-team interior, behind Aaron Harris and Terrell McClain. Another name to remember on the interior line: Keith McCaskill.
7. Barring injuries, I don't think Evan Landi will stick long at quarterback. Leavitt mentioned him as a safety or receiver -- the latter's a new wrinkle -- and said he wants a shot at quarterback, but they let him know upfront that B.J. Daniels was the guy they were bringing in as a passer. Landi's a first-team all-state safety, with good size at 6-3. I'm sure he's flattered that USF's bio says he was "timed with a 40-yard dash as low as 4.7." He's as versatile a player as there is in this class -- he can punt, and moonlights in hoops, baseball and hockey.
8. Mike Lanaris is listed at 6-0, 217, but I think that's a typo. Leavitt said he's 237, which is much more like a middle linebacker. He should be able to redshirt this fall, but USF loves his smarts quarterbacking a defense, citing an 1180 SAT, and his toughness. USF's bio says he had 223 tackles as a senior, which almost has to be a typo, or the most generous stat crew on the planet. USFnation.com had him with 112 tackles on the season last month, which is a more reasonable total. Don't forget this little nugget: he blocked four kicks this year.
9. Of the guys that got away, I think the one that hurts most was Corey Liuget, the defensive lineman from Hialeah who stuck with his commitment to Illinois after strongly considering USF for the past two weeks. As for Miami Northwestern's Tommy Streeter, it's hard to get a kid to look past the Hurricanes when they're signing seven of his teammates. I think George Baker's signing makes it less of a loss that Leonard Johnson picked Iowa State, and while it's no shame to lose a final coin-flip to Ohio State, I know USF has liked Orhian Johnson for a long time. As far as losing four-star commitment Anthony Jones to Middle Tennessee State, I'll just say that I think USF allowed it to happen and leave it at that. Remember Josh Price, who committed to USF only to find they wouldn't accept his pledge? Landed at ... Western Michigan.
10. Theo Wilson is on board, so don't worry that he wasn't included in Wednesday's signings. He'll be a cornerback at USF and a fast one at that -- it's an obscure technicality that USF can't comment on him, but he'll join Kion Wilson and Craig Marshall as the latest from the Pearl River pipeline. The past signings from Pearl -- Gene Coleman, Frank Harry, Donte Spires and Carlton Hill -- have all come and gone with little to no impact, but I think that will change this fall.
Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Send 'em now and I'll answer them Thursday. ...