TAMPA — Nothing shows the family atmosphere of USF football quite like a postseason banquet, and Skip Holtz likes to schedule his biggest recruiting weekend of the year around the event, with Bulls commitments and top targets in attendance.
This is a huge weekend, then, with about a dozen recruits expected in town, including several top prospects the Bulls are trying to poach from other programs.
The biggest name might be Randy "Duke" Johnson, a supposedly solid Miami commitment ranked among the top five running backs in the country, who could be attracted to the opening left by junior Darrell Scott leaving for the NFL draft.
USF doesn't have a linebacker committed, and will host two coveted ones from Jacksonville's First Coast High. Reggie Northrup is committed to Miami and Joseph Jackson to North Carolina; the Bulls recently added a former First Coast teammate, CB Carl Williams, as a preferred walk-on.
Another top LB, Gainesville's Tashon Whitehurst, is visiting despite being committed to Big East rival Syracuse; his teammate and friend, CB Chris Bivins, is an early enrollee who started classes at USF on Monday.
Oakland Park's Kameron Davis, an uncommitted 6-foot-6 OT looking at USF and West Virginia, will attend. Several commitments, including Armwood S Jarvis McCall, will also be there as recruiters as much as recruits.
COULD GO HIGH: Look for a big USF presence in Thursday's MLS SuperDraft, with junior F Dom Dwyer, the Big East offensive player of the year, rated as the draft's No. 2 forward by SI.com and a potential first-round pick. G Chris Blais, who helped the Bulls reach the Elite Eight, is rated by SI.com as the draft's top keeper, and D Aubrey Perry also participated in the MLS combine this week.
ARMS HEALTHY: USF baseball was picked by league coaches to finish fourth in the Big East, setting high expectations considering the Bulls didn't make the eight-team conference tournament in Clearwater last year.
Coach Lelo Prado is encouraged by the progress of three pitchers who missed time in 2011: LHP Andrew Barbosa, recovering from ligament replacement surgery, should be his No. 1 starter, and his likely No. 2, Derrick Stultz, hasn't pitched since 2009 due to shoulder problems. Ray Delphey, who also missed last season, should have a key bullpen role, potentially as closer.
THIS AND THAT: USF's Bill McGillis was at Houston in the late 1990s when new Central Florida athletic director Todd Stansberry worked there, and he calls the Knights' move a "spectacular" hire. … Jose Fernandez has a top-tier outside shooter in G Inga Orekhova, who hit six 3-pointers in her Bulls debut Saturday. Much like soccer's Dwyer, she's a potential one-and-done who might leave after this season to play professionally back in Europe. … USF has advertised a $50,000 position for a sports psychologist to help the Bulls' mental approach to the challenges of college athletics.
Greg Auman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at (813) 226-3346.