"Kayvon Webster," USF coach Jim Leavitt said as he sat down to the microphone to announce his 2009 recruiting class.
The index card stapled to his notes had the name of the Miami Pace defensive back. And if it wasn't clear how excited Leavitt was to swipe the Hurricanes recruit out of their back yard, he made it clear Wednesday.
"I told Kayvon they would be the first two words out of my mouth if he came to (USF)," Leavitt said. "I'm doing it. I'm a man of my word."
Webster, a Miami oral commitment since September, followed two Pace teammates, WR Derrick Hopkins and WR Sterling Griffin, to USF. Leavitt said Webster is enough of an athlete that he could play offense and defense in addition to helping on returns.
The three ran on the state champion 4x100 relay last spring. Hopkins also is rated among the top sprinters in the country and will run track at USF.
A closer look …
LOVE IS IN THE AIR: Armwood DE Ryne Giddins, who chose USF over Florida, also has Leavitt positively giddy.
"Giddins, can't wait to give you a hug," Leavitt said. "The question was asked: 'Why South Florida?' And he said, 'Why not?' That's how I feel as head football coach. … For Ryne to say that, it makes me want to hug him. I want to hang out with that guy. I want to be around him. I want to go get pizza with him or go walk in a park with him.
"I just want to be around him, that mentality, those convictions. That's what it's going to take … strong character, strong, relentless attitude."
RANKING HIGH: USF will have its highest national ranking ever: No. 25 by Scout.com, No. 29 by Rivals.com and No. 24 by ESPN.com.
"On paper, it's a tremendous class," Leavitt said. "I'm very proud of the fact that these young men have bought in and are going to be a part of continuing the story. There's great story lines ahead."
The defensive line, in particular, is a strength. Leavitt called it "a staggering group," led by Giddins, Boca Ciega's Julius Forte and junior college standouts Leslie Stirrups (formerly of Hillsborough High) and Jason Pierre-Paul.
RAZING 'CANES: Webster wasn't the only player USF beat Miami to get. LB Sam Barrington, who is expected to play this fall and compete for an outside starting job, chose USF over Miami and Illinois. USF signed six players from Broward and Miami-Dade counties, adding even more intrigue to their Thanksgiving-week rivalry that opens a five-year run in Tampa this fall.
BIG AND STRONG: Fort Pierce Westwood's Isaac Virgin is big enough at 6 feet 4, 235 pounds that he could wind up at tight end. But he'll get a look at quarterback first. Arm strength? Flat-footed, he can throw the ball close to 70 yards. And he's accurate, too, with 15 touchdowns against four interceptions during his senior year.
SURPRISE: The surprise signing was Kevin Williams, a 2006 Gibbs graduate who has spent the past two seasons at junior colleges in California. He'll get a look on returns and also could help at defensive back.
NUMBERS GAME: At least four members of the incoming class can't join the team this fall because the NCAA limit is 25 initial scholarships. Some won't qualify academically, and others can "grayshirt" or defer their enrollment until January to count toward the 2010 class. Also, freshman LB Quavon Taylor is transferring.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3346.