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USF Football Early Signing Period Class Breakdown- Part 3

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Just a few weeks after the December early signing period, Steeg took an in-depth look at the incoming herd of Bulls heading to Tampa.

NCAA Football: Gasparilla Bowl-Marshall vs South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s the third and final part of our evaluation of USF’s 2019 early signees. You can find part one here and part two here.

WR Kelley Joiner Jr.

5’9, 180 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of South Lake High School in Groveland, Florida.

Strengths

  • Fastest player in the class, both in acceleration and top speed
  • Can quickly read the holes on offense
  • Follows his blockers when he breaks off a run

Weaknesses

  • Coming off an injury that caused him to miss most of senior season
  • Officially recruited to play WR according to USF, will need to work on route running and blocking
  • Bounces outside too quickly, but could become useful in a jet sweep

Joiner was on a historic pace in his senior season before injury sidelined him for the rest of the season. Through three games, he had 1,006 yards on 91 carries and 17 touchdowns (THROUGH THREE GAMES).

His speed is completely unmatched in the high school level and although he’s being recruited at receiver, he should make an impact on screens, sweeps, or any way we can get him into space.

OLB Tae’Aviion Gray

6’2, 215 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of Brooks County High School in Quitman, Georgia.

Strengths

  • Quick first step on the snap, usually the first one off the ball, anticipates the snap
  • Fantastic speed, shoots his gaps well
  • Showcased multiple moves to get off blocks
  • Great play recognition

Weaknesses

  • Recruited as a linebacker, played mostly DE. Will need to transition from being a down lineman
  • Doesn’t always stay disciplined in his tackle, need to consistently wrap up

A raw prospect out of Georgia, Gray posses a lot of skills to contribute in the future. He played as a DE during high school and always had his hand in the ground, so his transition to linebacker will be a learning curve for him.

I like him moving back to defensive end in the future and getting a lot of playing time on special teams, especially punt block. If our special teams coordinator can dial it in correctly, Gray can block a lot of kicks this year.

WR Xavier Weaver

6’1, 165 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of Orlando Christian Prep in Orlando, Florida.

Strengths

  • Great route running
  • High points the ball well
  • Great hands, catches nearly anything thrown anywhere

Weaknesses

  • Underweight at 165, will need to get bigger and stronger
  • Not the fastest receiver, sometimes slow out of his break

Xavier Weaver becomes the first player from Orlando Christian Prep to commit to play at an FBS school and had other FBS offers such as Wake Forest and ECU as well.

Weaver has great hands as a wide receiver and also has great downfield blocking. He is an extremely disciplined wideout but needs to hit the weight room before getting onto the field. He may get on the field a few times in the fall, but he will definitely get bigger and stronger as his years go on at USF.

RB Josh Berry

6’0, 181 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of Ridge Community High School in Davenport, Florida.

Strengths

  • Great speed
  • Stays flowing north and south
  • Falls forward
  • Powerful runner and sheds arm tackles

Weaknesses

  • Will need to learn to pass protect
  • Route running was sluggish

Josh Berry adds some much needed depth to the running back position after Duran Bell and Elijah Mack were dismissed from the team after the bowl game.

His running style is very similar to how Bell was coming out of high school and should be in rotation in the backfield a few times this year with Johnny Ford and Jordan Cronkrite (should Cronkrite decide to stay at USF).

Ridge Community used him out of the backfield at times to catch passes, which at times were slow developing routes for a running back who possesses great speed. He can be lethal for screens as well as he has great field vision.

DE Jason Vaughn

6’5, 225 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of Advanced Prep Academy in Auburndale, Florida.

Strengths

  • Great first step off the ball
  • Has good gap assignment
  • Has perfect size for a defensive end

Weaknesses

  • He can be a little sluggish to shed blocks/cuts
  • Could have trouble staying home, over pursues at times

A rare Prep Academy recruit landed at USF after holding off Kansas State late during the recruiting period. Vaughn is a big guy who has great size as a DE who could find himself playing on Sundays.

His size comes with a downfall as his lanky frame means he’s slow to shed blocks and has trouble staying home when he is pursuing a ball carrier. With discipline and strength however, Vaughn can be a rotational guy for USF this year and learn behind Kirk Livingstone and Kevin Kegler.

OG Joshua Blanchard

6’3, 279 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of Norland High School in Miami, Florida.

Pros

  • Feet stay under him when driving defenders
  • Powerful blocker, strong arms and frame
  • Quickly gets to the second level

Cons

  • Undersized at Guard, will need to bulk up
  • Doesn’t keep hands inside
  • Sluggish first step

Teammate of Darius Williams, Joshua Blanchard joins USF’s class this year as an offensive guard. Blanchard is an aggressive, strong guard who usually delivers the first punch to defenders.

Though he is very sluggish, and will need to gain weight and get bigger at USF if he hopes to see playing time. He has the skills to be a great offensive guard for the Bulls, but it will be a few years from now.

OLB Demaurez Bellamy

5’10, 210 pounds

★★★☆☆

Recruited out of DeLand High School in DeLand, Florida.

Strengths

  • Disciplined tackler
  • Great speed
  • Good size for a pass rusher
  • Can bull rush and speed rush

Weaknesses

  • First step needs work, goes all in on rushes
  • Undersized at 5’10
  • Needs to work to shed blocks quicker

Bellamy is an interesting prospect for USF. Despite sitting at the lowest rated player, his athleticism shined throughout his film. Playing linebacker, wide receiver, free Safety, running Back and lining up at wildcat quarterback, Bellamy did a little bit of everything at DeLand High School.

As a linebacker, he needs some work, namely on reading an offense and getting off blocks. When he came unblocked and was just being a football player, however, he was a sure tackler.

It will be interesting to see Bellamy grow as a Bull, although for now, he will be a useful special teams player on both kickoffs and the punt team.


We should see up to six more players sign with USF on National Signing Day in February, and there are a few players to look out for. Kenny Logan out of Pedro Menendez High School is another priority athlete USF will be looking to sign in February.

Fans should also look out for a few transfer/grad transfers, notably DaQuon Green from the University of Florida, who went to high school at Tampa Bay Tech.