The grace period for Jeff Scott has reached its 48th and final hour. USF’s new coach must rummage through his moving boxes and break out those heralded recruiting chops, and fast.
Though Scott plans to coach Clemson through its upcoming College Football Playoff run, he’s in Tampa for the next six days, allowing him to oversee this critical final weekend before the start of the NCAA’s early signing period Wednesday.
“I think with the two signing periods, we have plenty of time,” Scott said Wednesday, minutes after his formal introduction as USF coach. “I’m looking forward to being with the recruits this weekend and starting to make some of those decisions.”
USF has 14 non-binding pledges at this moment, according to Rivals, which currently ranks the Bulls class fifth in the American Athletic Conference. Several of those pledges have indicated via social media they’re officially visiting the Bulls campus this weekend.
Among them: The Villages safety Mac Harris, Deerfield Beach cornerback Chris Townsel, Braden River tailback Brian Battie, Deland cornerback Ben Knox and Lake City Columbia quarterback Jordan Smith.
Valdosta quarterback Tate Rodemaker, a Kerwin Bell recruit once considered the class’s crown jewel, no longer appears committed to USF and reportedly is visiting FSU and Baylor this weekend.
Expect Scott to make a diligent effort to salvage the current crop of pledges, add some more in the regular signing period in early February, then tap liberally into the NCAA transfer portal much like predecessor Charlie Strong.
“I think the biggest thing is to make the right decisions,” Scott said.
“I could very easily go out and sign a bunch of guys, but for me, the culture that I’ve been around and the program that I’m gonna run, when you sign a player to come to your university, it’s ‘Til graduation do we part.’ As long as they do their part, as long they’re giving effort, as long as they go to class and they’re engaged, I’m not in the business of running guys out.
“So I think that makes it even more critical that in this first class, we bring in not only great players that fit our offensive and defensive scheme and vision, but to make sure they fit the culture we’re gonna be having here at (USF).”
Earlier this week, USF’s track program announced former South Carolina tailback Lavonte Valentine has signed, though he also could play football (and must occupy one of football’s 85 scholarships if he does). A three-star prospect from Melbourne, he was sidelined last season at USC due to a knee injury.