TAMPA — J.T. Hamilton's last day of high school is Friday, and the 323-pound defensive tackle from Orlando is already excited about starting classes at USF on Jan. 5.
"It's a whole different ballgame," said Hamilton, one of at least five players from USF's 2012 recruiting class who will get an early start by enrolling this spring. "The main thing for me is I have to be mentally ready, and I want to be in shape. I'm in shape for high school, but not for college and Coach KP."
KP is Kevin Patrick, USF's defensive tackles coach, and Hamilton hopes to follow the path of Elkino Watson, who jumped in as a true freshman this fall, totaling 33 tackles, nine for a loss. Hamilton has talked with Watson as well as his cousin, Bulls freshman LB Corian Hamilton, trying to prepare himself for the transition. He'd like to see himself at 305 pounds — "305 solid," he says — by the time the 2012 season starts.
Joining Hamilton will be Gainesville CB Chris Bivins, who reaffirmed his commitment Tuesday afternoon, and Daphne (Ala.) DE Eric Lee, Pearl River Community College OL Chandlor Mathews and Punta Gorda Charlotte WR Alex Mut, a holdover from the 2011 class who delayed his arrival as he recovered from knee surgery.
And Hamilton isn't lacking for confidence — he'll wear No. 90 for the Bulls, a nod to Nebraska and Lions standout DT Ndamukong Suh. "I don't play as dirty as he does," he clarifies.
HIGH HONORS: Redshirt freshman Quinterrius Eatmon, who started all 12 games at right tackle, was named second-team freshman All-America by Yahoo/Rivals, the second year in a row a Bulls player made the team. Eatmon was part of an offensive line that gave up just 16 sacks, the fewest in the Big East, and cleared holes for the league's No. 1 rushing offense, averaging 182 yards per game.
Hillsborough High's Terrence Mitchell made the team last season as a punt returner, and you could make a case for Watson to join Eatmon — his stats were better than any of the three freshman DTs chosen, who had a high of 28 tackles and 7.5 for loss.
THIS AND THAT: With sophomore PG Lavonte Dority transferring at the semester break, 13 scholarship players have transferred in Stan Heath's five seasons. Dority had lost his minutes with the emergence of freshman Anthony Collins, but the Bulls will be in trouble if Collins or sophomore Blake Nash is injured. … USF soccer gets a major recruiting boost with the news that new Corbett Soccer Stadium will host the FHSAA boys and girls state championships in February. Athletic director Doug Woolard would like to bid to host to the NCAA College Cup final four. … Former USF player Glenn Davis, a Bulls defensive quality control assistant the past two seasons, will become cornerbacks coach at Division I-AA Youngstown State. Davis, 33, a four-year starter at USF from 1997-2000, will be reunited with former Bulls defensive coordinator Rick Kravitz, who is in the same position with the Penguins. Youngstown's head coach, Eric Wolford, was also part of USF's original coaching staff under Jim Leavitt. Davis also starred at Dixie Hollins.