There's been a lot of fuss lately about the drop-off between USF's 2014 and 2015 recruiting classes. It's not without merit-- the 2015 class is a fair deal weaker so far. But that's to be expected given that the Bulls really failed to deliver on the promise of a bowl game, let alone being remotely competitive, in 2014. But the wheels haven't fallen off Coach T's bus on the recruiting trail quite yet, and the 2015 class is still shaping up quite well compared to the rest of the Bulls' peers.
Taggart and company put together a decent group thus far-- we're not going to go over every commit here, so take a gander at the full list here-- but the next week before Signing Day figures to be pivotal for this class. The Bulls have hosted a boatload of recruits for two consecutive weekends, and there are still a decent amount of targets that remain up in the air entering the stretch drive. Let's take a closer look.
Key Commits + Highlights:
- High three-star JUCO offensive tackle Glen Bethel is probably the crown jewel of the bunch thus far. Bethel is from Arizona Western College, and seems to be a solid Bulls commit and should challenge for immediate playing time at left tackle. With Bethel and the potential immediate addition of Stanford transfer Reilly Gibbons, the Bulls could be much improved on the offensive line in 2015. Gibbons' waiver for immediate eligibility was denied, but he's currently appealing the decision.
- The other early enrollee along with Gibbons is linebacker Danny Thomas, a three-star former East Carolina commit who switched to the Bulls in August.
- Definitely worth keeping an eye on safety Khalid McGee, another high three-star who's currently one of USF's top commits. The defensive standout from Miami's Northwestern High listed himself as "75% USF" and visited Rutgers this weekend. He should be making an official announcement soon, and would be a huge get for the Bulls.
- Trevon Sands is a talented three-star running back from Miami who would be a very nice addition to the Bulls' young stable of backs. He's had some late interest from Louisville, but appears to be a solid commit.
- He's gotten lost in the wave of more recent commits, but remember that the Bulls have a quarterback commit in this class in Brett Kean. Kean's a low three-star or two-star depending on where you look, but USF's quarterback situation is entirely up for grabs, especially with the change in offensive scheme.
- If the Bulls are really going to be running a spread offense this upcoming season, they need more speed at receiver. They've pulled in a pair of small, shifty receivers thus far: local product Jordan Reed from Plant, who's listed at a 4.35 40, and JUCO Jarvis Baxter. Both Reed and Baxter are sub-six feet and low three-stars, but there's a lot of playing time to be had for new additions at wideout. Don't forget about Kentucky transfer A.J. Legree either-- he'll be eligible this season after sitting out 2014, although he isn't much of a burner.
- The Bulls got some good news today as receiver Malik Vaccaro-Dixon decommitted from UCF and committed to USF after visiting campus this weekend. Vaccaro-Dixon, at a rangy 6'3", played wideout in high school but is expected to switch to free safety at the college level.
- More good news! Auburn safety Mackenro Alexander will be transferring to USF. Alexander was a three-star out of Immokalee and played two seasons with the Tigers, recording 12 tackles. He'll have to sit out a season and will have two years of eligibility beginning in 2016.
So where does this class land the Bulls among the rest of the nation? You can see here how we've evaluated recruiting classes before-- to avoid favoring quantity over quality, we look at the average commit rating from 247Sports.com. USF's average commit rating for their 2015 class, updated to include Vaccaro-Dixon's commitment, is 83.08.
So that's a number. How does it stack up?
USF average commit rating, 2011-15 (per 247):
2015 (unfinished): 83.08
So yes, there's a drop-off from the excellent-given-the-circumstances 2014 class, but take into account that Taggart has much less to sell than he did before and isn't operating within the cushy confines of a power conference like Skip Holtz was, and it's really not a bad figure. Let's compare it to the rest of the American:
American Athletic Conference average commit rating, 2015:
1. USF - 83.08
2. UCF - 82.97
3. Cincinnati - 81.63
4. East Carolina - 80.77
5. Temple - 80.23
6. SMU - 80.19
7. Memphis - 80.09
8. Tulane - 80.00
9. Tulsa - 79.79
10. UConn - 79.13
11. Houston - 79.03
Even though they've gone 6-18 the past two seasons, the Bulls still have the highest-rated class in the American. That speaks volumes about where this program should be compared to where it is. Here are a few other tidbits:
- Using the criteria above, USF's 2015 class is currently ranked second among all Group of Five teams, trailing only Boise State. UCF, Fresno State and Cincinnati round out the top five.
- The average commit rating is good for 61st in the nation, ahead of a handful of power conference teams: Oregon State, Colorado, Syracuse, Purdue, Iowa State, Minnesota and Kansas. Remember this next time someone uses the "not enough talent" excuse next season.
Anyway, let's finish up with a list of potential commits to watch closely in this next week.
Keep an Eye On:
- Jordan Griffin, a high three-star linebacker out of Armwood who's currently committed to Wisconsin. He recently visited USF and is essentially choosing between the Bulls and Badgers. I wouldn't hold my breath on Griffin flipping, but it would be a huge get for the Bulls.
- 3-star JUCO OT Jaypee Philbert, a former Arizona State commit who has taken official visits to Iowa State and USF over the past two weekends.
- Chris Barr, another small, quick three-star receiver who's a Utah commit right now. He's taken visits to USF and UCF over the past two weeks, and both schools, along with Wisconsin, are very much in the mix.
- 3-star safety Derrick Baity out of Plant, who has also visited USF and UCF recently. He's expected to choose between the two schools and Kentucky on National Signing Day.
- Shelton Lewis, a three-star cornerback from Orlando who's looking to stay in state. His decision may come down to USF and UCF.