TAMPA -- USF has picked up its 16th commitment toward its 2011 recruiting class, as Mike Jeune, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound linebacker from Independence Community College in Kansas, said he's accepted a scholarship to join the Bulls in January.
"I made the decision three weeks ago. They offered me, and I committed on the spot," said Jeune, who chose the Bulls over Mississippi, Kansas State and Mississippi State. "I had checked the school out in the summer, and I really liked the coaches. I got a good vibe from everything I saw there."
Jeune, who played with current Bulls linebacker Sam Barrington at Jacksonville's Terry Parker High, is expected to compete for USF's starting strongside linebacker job in 2011. He has a team-high 68 tackles for Independence, including five tackles for losses, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries. He and Barrington remain best friends, and the idea of them reuniting is a great thing, according to Jim Scible, who coached them at Terry Parker.
"(Jeune) is probably one of the better athletes I coached in 46 years. Tremendous," said Scible, now retired in Alabama. "In high school, he was maybe 6-2, 205, long and lean, looked statuesque, like a Greek god. But now he's probably 235, and he's scary-looking."
Jeune -- his last name is pronounced "June," and like many of his future USF teammates, his parents were born in Haiti -- has a rare combination of size and speed, Scible said. Jeune said he was recently timed at 4.4 in the 40-yard dash, and when asked whether he or Barrington was faster, he laughed.
"Sam thinks he is, but I am," he said.
Scible said Jeune has worked hard in the classroom after not qualifying academically out of high school -- he's on course to get his associate of arts degree in December, allowing him to join the Bulls in spring and learn his new defense. Scible said as talented as he is on the field, he's as memorable away from football.
"He just was a good, solid kid. Always 'yes sir, no sir,' with an infectious smile," Scible said. "There's no downside to the kid. So much talent. He has the tools to really help that program. I had five Parade All-Americans when I was at Kissimmee Osceola, but he and Sam, those two really were special."
Jacksonville has been a consistent supplier of elite linebackers for USF -- Stephen Nicholas and Kion Wilson are in the NFL now, and Barrington and Jeune could be starting next fall. With strongside linebackers Jacquian Williams and Donte Spires graduating, the starting Sam job will be wide-open this spring, and Jeune should have every opportunity to be lining up with Barrington again.
Scible said Jeune brings another asset that most linebackers can't boast -- he was also the team punter in high school.
"He had the worst punting technique in the history of punting: One step and he crushed the ball," Scible said. "But he led the whole Jacksonville area, must have averaged 48 yards."
His average is down, but Jeune still punts at Independence -- he's averaging 36.3 yards on 19 kicks this season, with a long of 58.
USF is close to landing another elite junior college defender, as Cornellius "Tank" Carradine of Butler County in Kansas is down to USF and Florida State and will be making an official visit to USF next weekend.