Our ongoing efforts to provide uplifting news during this bleak stretch lead us to USF first-year football coach Jeff Scott.
He and his staff are off to an encouraging start in this early, disrupted phase of the 2021 recruiting cycle.
Currently, the Bulls have four non-binding verbal commitments from the class. Three members of the quartet have a three-star ranking from at least one major recruiting service. Both Rivals and 247Sports rank USF’s class third in the American Athletic Conference.
Whether that ranking fluctuates any time soon is uncertain.
An NCAA-mandated dead period, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, recently was stretched to May 31. During that time, official and unofficial on-campus visits are forbidden, though coaches may still contact recruits via calls, text messages or written correspondence.
USF’s latest pledge is 6-foot-1 Auburndale cornerback Jaelen Stokes, a key cog in the Bloodhounds’ resuscitation in 2019. A Class 3A state qualifier in the 200 meters as a freshman, Stokes had two interceptions last fall as Auburndale went 8-3 and reached the playoffs after a 3-7 season in ’18.
His pledge ultimately could help Scott land 6-foot, 180-pound Bloodhounds linebacker Aubrey Burks, as well. Projected as a safety at the next level, Burks had 17 tackles for loss and six sacks last season, earning first-team all-Polk County honors from the Lakeland Ledger.
Locally, the Bulls appear in solid shape ― at least at this point ― for several prospects. Among them: Steinbrenner 290-pound defensive tackle Desmond “Tank" Mamudi and 5-8, 170-pound speedster Deon Silas, the Warriors’ career leader in all-purpose and return yards.
Mamudi, who has 14 Division I-A offers, said Tuesday he’s still seriously considering USF.
USF Class of 2021 pledges
ILB Davon Hicks, Vero Beach (6-0, 200)
OLB CJ Ross, Jacksonville Trinity Christian (5-11, 200)
DE Keeon Terrell, Fort Myers (6-3, 220)
CB Jaelen Stokes, Auburndale (6-1, 175)