With the signings of defensive tackles Tyrone Barber and John Waller on National Signing Day on Wednesday, USF football's 2018 recruiting class is officially in the books.
Consisting of mostly three-stars, the Bulls ended up signing 26 prospects for #Stampede18, finishing behind Cincinnati for the #2 class in the AAC according to the 247 Composite rankings and the 63rd rated class in the nation.
What immediately jumps out is the sheer number of prospects signed in this class, which makes sense to restock the shelves considering the number of seniors from key positions departing.
"We have a lot of depth and we're really happy with this class that we signed. You’re going to win with the type of players we went and got,” said head coach Charlie Strong during his signing day press conference on Wednesday.
“The only thing we're looking to do is move the program forward and when you get good players who understand the vision that we have in place for them, then good things will happen and you'll be able to move forward.”
Of the 26, 24 of them were signed during the brand new early signing period back in December.
Getting nearly the entire class in right before Christmas was a welcome change for the USF coaching staff.
"Our staff did a great job signing 24 guys during the early signing period,” Strong said. “I liked the early signing period. Especially for us because we were able to get some really good players and you didn’t have to go into January worrying about where guys were visiting and what they did on the visit."
Of those early signees, six got a head start by enrolling early: DE Stacy Kirby, P Trent Schneider, LB Antonio Grier (who according to Strong, has already put on 10-12 pounds since arriving to campus), WR Zion Roland, RB Brian Norris, and OLB/DE hybrid Dwayne Boyles, who got bumped up to a four-star in the final 247 ‘18 prospect evaluation.
To no surprise, a vast majority of USF’s targets were in-state with 22 #Stampede18 signees hailing from the Sunshine State. The lone outsiders were Grier, QB Octavious Battle, and DE Armon Williams out of metro-Atlanta and Schneider, a native of Sydney, Australia before finding his way to Santa Barbara City College in California.
“It’s amazing the talent in this state that you’re able to pull from,” Strong said of his Florida recruits. “You look at the ‘Big 3’ universities and then everyone else, but you still have enough talent where you can fill a roster.”
Here’s how the numbers broke down position wise:
You can see that there was a heavy emphasis on adding depth in the trenches on both sides of the ball as well as at linebacker.
"Linemen is where you build your program and we were able to get some really good offensive linemen as well as some good defensive linemen,” Strong said. “You're always looking for those big guys."
Not everyone that verbally commits will stick throughout the process for a variety of reasons and USF had 10 players decommit at different points of the year.
The latest decommit came just days ago when Lakeland Jenkins DE Jordan Domineck flipped to Georgia Tech.
"When you lose a player out of state, you get upset about it,” Strong said. “Sometimes I tell these players that of those schools you're going to, I'd love to play them...just ask them to put us on the schedule. But they won't play us. I wish they would."
(USF will in fact play Domineck and Georgia Tech over the next two seasons.)
Finally, having most of #Stampede18 signed in December allowed the coaching staff to get a headstart on players for #Stampede19, where three guys have already verbally committed.
Strong talked about his super busy month of January where he and the coaching staff tackled all of their usual hotspots.
“In January, I went out recruiting to over 100 high schools,” Strong said. “I started out in Atlanta. Then came down to Pensacola one day, hit Tallahassee the next day, then Jacksonville. Came back on the weekend to get energized back up. Then I went to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm, the West Coast and Central Florida. Got energized back up, then did the city, Polk County, and on up to Gainesville.”
”It was more of just shaking hands and putting our name in that school.”