South Florida is expected to sign about 20 players today, making for its biggest recruiting class in school history.
At the same time, though, the Bulls are losing at least one of their top two recruits from the 1999 class and probably another.
Defensive end/linebacker Antwan Fleming said he intends to transfer, and coach Jim Leavitt acknowledged this week that offensive lineman Joe Condron may not be on the roster either when spring football practices begin.
The 6-foot-8, 355-pound Condron, who started nine games at right tackle, would be a more immediate loss, but the coaching staff at one time had high hopes for Fleming.
The Plant City High graduate was moved from linebacker to the line after reporting at 6-2, 270, about 20-25 pounds above his ideal playing weight, and redshirted last season.
Fleming is enrolled in classes at Hillsborough Community College's Plant City campus. He said he hasn't lost the weight yet, and hopes after signing day he can earn a scholarship offer from a big-name program as a linebacker or defensive end. His favorites: Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee and Alabama.
"I'm not returning" to USF, Fleming said. "I didn't feel like I belonged there. Nothing against the coaches, the coaches were great. I wasn't happy. I just decided to leave."
Condron, who played every snap at right tackle before a strained medial collateral ligament in his left knee kept him out of the last two games, still is enrolled at USF, said his father, Joe, who deferred questions to his son. The Brooksville High graduate could not be reached for comment.
Condron and Fleming are "good guys and they're from very good families," Leavitt said. He said Condron's future with the team is unsure because "he really doesn't want to do the running and lifting for winter conditioning."
"He just wants time off," Leavitt said. "How can you be on our football team if you can't do running and lifting?"
GRITTY SMITTY: He's one of Conference USA's best three-point shooters, but USF fans are more likely to remember Cedric Smith for his awkward lunges for the ball than his good-looking perimeter shots.
Smith is a shooter and a fighter. He is No. 2 in the league in three-point shooting (40 of 88, a very effective 45.5 percent), but more important, he is No. 2 on USF's career steals list.
The junior guard from Mullins, S.C., who was lightly recruited out of Fork Union Military Academy, has 153 steals in 77 starts, one ahead of Radenko Dobras (1988-92) and five behind Brian Lamb (1994-98).
Smith is averaging 2.0 steals this season, tied for fourth in the league. He might lead the league in midcourt sprawls to the floor: He goes after far more balls than he snatches away.
"I pride myself on the defensive end," said Smith, who has started every game of his USF career. "I have slow feet. It's a little harder for me to play defense. (The secret is) just being smart, being in the right place at the right time.
"I just try to go all out. I know how it is to not be able to play this game. It's kind of painful. I just come out and give it my all, because you never know when it's going to end."
WALDON ON NOTICE: Sophomore B.B. Waldon didn't start against Cincinnati because he was late for Friday's practice; he ended up in foul trouble anyway. He finished with nine points in 15 minutes before fouling out of USF's 89-72 loss to the No. 1 Bearcats.
Coach Seth Greenberg wouldn't commit to starting Waldon Saturday against Saint Louis, saying he would wait until Friday to decide. "We're in an off week," Greenberg said. "They will all have a chance to start Saturday night."
_ Staff writer Roger Mills contributed to this report.