After holding down two jobs for a grueling five-week stretch, new USF coach Jeff Scott’s moonlighting days are over.
Meaning all of his waking hours ― including most of those moonlit ones ― now can be committed to the Bulls.
Scott, whose coordinator duties with Clemson formally ended with Monday night’s College Football Playoff title game, has three critical weeks before the next national signing day on Feb. 5. USF signed only nine players during the early period in December, when Scott hadn’t yet hired any assistants.
And if the Bulls’ abysmal autumn was any sign, USF’s needs are numerous. Here are four areas we expect Scott and his staff to target, via the signing period and transfer portal, in early 2020.
The next linebacker USF signs from the Class of 2020 will be the first. Now that grad-transfer Patrick Macon has moved on, the Bulls again possess a gaping hole in the middle. Beefed-up sophomores Dwayne Boyles and Tony Grier valiantly attempted to fill that void when Macon was hurt down the stretch last season, but both are better suited for the outside. USF desperately needs a sturdy run stuffer it can plant in the center of its scheme, and might pluck one from the portal again.
Charlie Strong’s steady refrain last fall about his play-making deficiency at receiver had some merit. Randall St. Felix’s 22 receptions led all Bulls wide receivers in 2019. By contrast, five non-tight-end pass catchers had 22 or more in 2018. Scott pulled off a coup of sorts in December when he got a signature from three-star prospect Omarion Dollison, who had 86 catches at Columbia (S.C.) Gray Academy last fall. Still, the Bulls need more, a lot more.
Another area in which Scott may reload via the portal. Veterans Kirk Livingtone and Greg Reaves, two of USF’s sturdiest players and best citizens, have departed after combining for 74 career starts. Darius Slade (32 tackles, two sacks) also is gone after a grad-transfer season. While the depth chart still is dotted with promise (i.e. Rashawn Yates, Jason Vaughn), this position must be replenished, and fast.
Brace yourselves for a bustling derby. USF has three scholarship quarterbacks ― incumbent Jordan McCloud, sophomore Jah’Quez Evans and North Carolina transfer Cade Fortin ― on board, and we expect Scott to add at least two more. Lake City Columbia dual threat Jordan Smith is expected to sign in February, and three-star pro-style QB Hunter Helms ― who threw passes to Dollison at Gray Academy ― reportedly visits later this month.