Thirty days out, Bulls' 2016 class taking solid shape
Thirty days remain until verbal commitments everywhere are validated with national letters of intent. In the volatile, vagarious world of college football recruiting, that's a lifetime.
But it's also a good place to start USF's signing day discussion in earnest.
At this point, USF has 12 non-binding commitments excluding Hinds (Miss.) Community College defensive linemen LaDarrius Jackson and Frank Johnson, who already have signed their transfer paperwork.
A pair of 2015 signees, OT Glen Bethel and RB Trevon Sands, also are believed to be on track to finally join the team for spring drills. Former Auburn DB Mackenro Alexander, who played at Immokalee High, reportedly has transferred as well.
That's 17 potential newcomers at this point. If all signed today, USF's class would be ranked third in the American Athletic Conference behind Houston and SMU, according to 247Sports and Rivals.com. Considering Willie Taggart's recruiting chops, his apparent staff stability and the Bulls' sparkling finish in 2015, there's no reason to suspect the Bulls won't finish with a flourish.
"I'd say they've positioned themselves well for a good close," said Josh Newberg, state-wide recruiting analyst for 247Sports. "The class has some star power to it. They need to address (offensive line) and (defensive end) between now and signing day."
The current jewel of the class is Miami Central WR Darnell Salomon, the only four-star prospect of the group. The efforts to replenish the offensive line, which loses three senior starters, appear to be solid with three current commitments (not including Bethel) highlighted by Panama City T Christion Gainer.
And naturally, the Bulls remain in the hunt -- to varying degrees -- for several non-committed prospects, the most prominent being IMG Academy four-star DT Shavar Manuel and Niceville four-star S Romeo Finley, whose first offer came from Taggart. If the Bulls' final-month surge included a commitment from one or both, USF could leapfrog the Cougars and Mustangs for the AAC's top class.
Far crazier things have occurred in Januarys past.
"I'd say the class is solid," Newberg said, "with potential to be great depending on how they finish."
LB Paul Dawson, Sebastian River
CB Josh Dunn, Lake Wales
OT Christion Gainer, Panama City Bay
DE LaDarrius Jackson, Hinds (Miss.) CC
DE Frank Johnson, Hinds (Miss.) CC
OG Logan MacDonald, Davenport Ridge
RB Elijah Mack, Punta Gorda Charlotte
CB Armunz Mathews, Tallahassee North Florida Chr.
QB Chris Oladokun, Sickles
LB Andre Polk, South Fort Myers
WR Darnell Salomon, Miami Central
ILB Micario Stanley, Cape Coral
OG Michael Wiggs, Lakeland Lake Gibson
WR Latrell Williams, Lake City Columbia