TAMPA — Running backs are a major part of Willie Taggart's offense, so USF's new coach was pleased by the signings of Kissimmee Osceola's Sta'fon McCray and Miami Northwestern's Darius Tice as part of Wednesday's recruiting haul.
The two have similar frames. McCray is 5 feet 11, 205 pounds, and Tice is 6-0, 205.
"I like big guys with little-guy feet. They can go the distance," Taggart said. "Being a running back, you've got to be tough. You've got to be competitive, and I think both guys have all those qualities."
McCray ran for 3,248 yards and 42 touchdowns over the past two seasons.
USF convinced Tice to decommit from Cincinnati, and he chose USF after a campus visit late last week. Tice, who rushed for 1,210 yards and 20 touchdowns and gained 8.8 yards per carry as a senior, said he likes his combination of size and speed.
"I can run by you, run through you, make you miss," Tice said. "I try to mix it up."
HELP ARRIVING: Most plentiful position? Defensive back, where the Bulls signed six players in hopes of shoring up a major concern after poor play and the graduation of both senior starters at cornerback.
"Two interceptions," Taggart said, holding up two fingers to emphasize how many interceptions the Bulls had as a team in 2012, including one by tackle Elkino Watson. "We can't have that."
The best looks to be Lamar Robbins, rated a four-star recruit by 247sports.com who had a high-profile list of finalists: Oklahoma, Louisville, West Virginia and Purdue. Louisville made a late push after he committed last week, but the Bulls held on to him.
"Coach Taggart really wanted to add difference-makers," said assistant Larry Scott, the tackles/tight ends coach who recruits the Miami area. "We wanted to add some guys we thought could make an impact pretty early in their careers."
RANKINGS: Comparing the 2014 Big East lineup, the Bulls had the top class and 54th nationally, according to 247sports.com. On the other hand, by Scout.com's rankings, the Bulls' class ranks fifth in the 2013 Big East and 61st overall.
1-for-3: Among the three stars from Miami USF sought, it got only Robbins. Northeast receiver Stacy Coley chose Miami while Washington offensive lineman Denver Kirkland chose Arkansas.
SHORTHANDED: The key to USF's recruiting success? Perhaps Taggart bunkering down in the first week after being hired with only two of his current assistants, Scott (retained from Skip Holtz's staff), and Ray Woodie (brought from his Western Kentucky staff).
"We were in here … all night, watching video, making phone calls, trying to piece things together and get another watch group of kids to get evaluated," said Scott, who was also carried over from Jim Leavitt's staff when Holtz was hired. "It was pretty important to be the bridge for what was going on. (Western Kentucky) recruited Florida so heavily, they knew a lot of the kids, too. We hit it running."
THIS AND THAT: The class includes two sets of prep teammates: offensive linemen Jeremi Hall and Dominique Threatt of Atlanta Tri-Cities and McCray and defensive back Hassan Childs of Kissimmee Osceola in. … Smallest signee? Kicker Emilio Nadelman of Miami Central, who enrolled in January at 165 pounds. That's literally half the size of the 330-pound Hall.