So I've had to go back and update this post multiple times throughout the day because EVERYONE INCLUDING YOU, YES YOU, READER, VERBALLY COMMITTED TO USF FOOTBALL TODAY.
But in all seriousness, this was a big day on the recruiting front for Charlie Strong and staff, adding four more names to their 2018 recruiting class.
The verbal commits are from Davie Nova linebacker Shaun Peterson Jr., Sarasota Booker wide receiver Talik Keaton, Gadsden County linebacker Randal Copeland, and Jacksonville Ribault safety Devon Matthews.
This brings the current number of 2018 verbal commits to 19, which already matches the size of the entire 2017 recruiting class that signed this past February. All signs pointed to Strong and company aiming for a pretty large class in their first full year on staff, but now we’re wondering if they'll have enough room to flip some kids later on in the process.
LB Shaun Peterson Jr.
6'3", 215 pounds
Nova High School, Davie, FL
Recruiting Ratings: Listed as a 3-star by Rivals.
Other Notable Offer: Mississippi State
Go bulls #stampede18 pic.twitter.com/JFVnLMMUlt— shaun peterson jr (@pressure_3) July 29, 2017
Peterson was the first of the four players to announce his verbal commitment today and the third linebacker to join the class after Antonio Grier and Dwayne Boyles.
Although he's listed as a linebacker, Peterson also got significant reps at running back for the Titans, as you'll see in his Hudl videos below. He has a similar build to fellow 3-star 2018 commit Brian Norris Jr., so the coaching staff could potentially have two bruising, downhill runners to work with.
WR Talik Keaton
6'1", 175 pounds
Booker High School, Sarasota, FL
Recruiting Ratings: 3-star by 247, 2-star by Rivals. 0.8333 Composite Score by 247.
Other Notable Offers: Indiana, Rutgers, Syracuse, Tulane
Verbally Committed ✅ ‼️#bullstrong pic.twitter.com/3XKpbQwZy8— Talik Keaton 1️⃣ (@talikk72) July 29, 2017
The Sarasota wideout was a reliable target for the Booker offense in 2016. He mostly served as the Tornadoes' Z or 'flanker' receiver. His athleticism was also regularly used on defense at corner and in special teams as a kick returner.
Keaton took home first place in the long jump and triple at the FHSAA 2A District 11 Championships this past April. The kid certainly has leaping ability.
LB Randal Copeland
6'2", 225 pounds
Gadsden County High School, Havana, FL
Recruiting Ratings: Not yet rated by any of the major services.
Other Offers: Appalachian State, Southern Miss
Please respect my decision @CoachStrong_USF @CoachBurkeJ pic.twitter.com/XEqOA1Otas— RJ57 (@_RJ57) July 29, 2017
A relatively under-the-radar recruit, the Gadsden County product becomes the fourth linebacker to verbally commit to defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary's defense.
Playing for now defunct East Gadsden last season, Copeland racked up 120 tackles (8 TFLs), three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was named First Team All-Big Bend by the Tallahassee Democrat.
Safety Devon Matthews
6'2", 190 pounds
Jean Ribault High School, Jacksonville, FL
Recruiting Ratings: Listed as a 2-star by Rivals.
Other Notable Offers: Mississippi State, Missouri, Illinois, Temple, UConn
COMMITTED!!!! #RespectMyDecision pic.twitter.com/31ak29Rxsd— MONSTER™ (@dmatt_5) July 29, 2017
Matthews is the second Jacksonville area verbal commit to this class, after Bartram Trail guard Brad Cecil announced his decision back in June.
While not fully evaluated yet by the major recruiting services, Matthews does have a pretty decent group of offers from Power Five and AAC schools. He chose USF over the likes of Mississippi State, Missouri, and Temple among others.