TAMPA — USF got an early start on its 2012 recruiting class Wednesday, signing five junior college players who will transfer in January, participate in spring practice and help address depth concerns for Skip Holtz's team.
Offensive linemen Chandlor Mathews and Lawrence Martin, defensive backs Fidel Montgomery and Josh Brown, and former Texas defensive end Tevin Mims will have two seasons of eligibility.
"Depth was a major concern for me last year," Holtz said. "I don't want to be put in that situation again, so we've tried to bolster some positions.
"Bringing midyears in, the whole class gets acclimated academically, and they can get a whole semester under their belts. It'll help them get acclimated to what we're doing here socially, getting around the guys and understanding what goes into making a team. It doesn't start in August. It starts in January."
Mathews likely will start at guard or center while Martin is likely a guard or tackle. Both have a shot at the open left guard spot, and Holtz said Mathews is one of three —with sophomore-to-be Austin Reiter and redshirt freshman-to-be Thor Jozwiak — he'll look at to start at center.
"I love the freshman offensive linemen we recruited a year ago. I think they're going to be special players and have great careers here," Holtz said. "If you're counting on a lot of redshirt freshmen to play for you on the offensive line, that would be known as a rebuilding year."
Montgomery is likely to be a safety, and Brown a cornerback.
SECONDARY CONCERNS: Incoming freshman cornerback Chris Bivins of Gainesville, due to enroll next month, injured his knee in his last game, which will keep him from participating in spring drills. The Bulls won't know if he needs surgery until he arrives on campus. But even if he needs surgery, he'll still have a chance to compete for playing time. Bivins' injury factored into the decision to sign Montgomery and Brown.
ONE GONE: Freshman defensive tackle Marquis White, who played one year of prep school football after not playing in high school in Orlando, is no longer with the team due to academic problems.