TAMPA — It has been a quiet final month of recruiting for USF, but if today pans out as expected — beating out Big East rivals for a pair of in-state recruits — the Bulls will have closed out their 2012 class as a relative success.
Skip Holtz hopes to hear good news today from Gainesville LB Tashon Whitehurst, who had been a Syracuse commitment, and Oakland Park OL Kam Davis, who is deciding between USF and West Virginia. Both are rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com, which has USF with the fifth-best class in the Big East. Holtz will have made it through January without losing a commitment, despite defensive coordinator Mark Snyder leaving for Texas A&M.
USF has a pair of four-star recruits in Orlando WR D'Vario Montgomery and Citra North Marion TE Sean Price; Montgomery was targeted by LSU in the past week, with Price drawing strong interest from Oklahoma and Georgia. And Holtz brought in eight newcomers in January, giving them an early start to help fill the holes on a team that returns a strong nucleus.
There are positions that have not been addressed. The lack of a QB means USF will be gambling heavily on being able to land an elite passer in the next year. Running back, too, will be a position where USF can sell a top recruit on early playing time, with only one scholarship back younger than a junior on the fall roster.
Holtz went into this recruiting season with only 14 scholarships available due to a small senior class, and going into today's signings, the Bulls have a class that Scout.com rates as the worst in the Big East and 70th nationally. But with a strong close and the benefits of spring practice for nearly half the newcomers, it should be a class that can help with depth at key positions in 2012.
BIG OPPORTUNITY: Halfway through the Big East season, the women's basketball team is 12-10 and 4-4 in conference, but if the Bulls get a home win tonight against West Virginia (15-6, 5-3), there's much in play in the next month.
USF has played well in its seven games since junior Inga Orekhova joined the team, and Jose Fernandez has tweaked his lineup, making freshman G Shalethia Stringfield and junior F Tiffany Conner starters. Despite having top scorer Andrea Smith miss the season with a knee injury, USF has a chance to finish in the top half of the Big East.
Of the remaining eight games, only Notre Dame can be written off as a sure loss, and a 6-2 finish would put the Bulls at 18-12 entering the Big East tournament, where an upset could put them on the NCAA bubble.
THIS AND THAT: USF is finalizing an agreement to turn over management of the renovated Sun Dome to Global Spectrum, a Philadelphia-based firm that manages the arenas at UCF and Miami. … Former USF walk-on LB LaDre Watkins, who last played for the Bulls in 2009, has transferred to Florida International and will play for the Panthers this fall. … Having gone from a 3-15 Big East record last season to its current 6-3 mark, the men's basketball team has the best improvement in conference record of any team in the "Power 6" major conferences. Only Iowa State and Indiana have even two more league wins than last season.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346.