“We’re still not done yet.”
Simple, to the point and incredibly appropriate words when discussing South Florida’s football team at Wednesday’s national signing day news conference with coach Jim Leavitt.
Leavitt went through the 17 players who have, thus far, signed letters of intent to play football at USF.
The list includes 12 high school seniors and five players who have already enrolled at USF and will begin practicing with the team March 19. Among those who will attend spring practices are two quarterbacks, David Mullins and Willie Williams, linebacker Terrence Royal from Wharton High School in Tampa, tight end Patrick Quinn and offensive lineman Jason Lehman.
USF quarterback Chad Barnhardt was Williams’ position coach in high school, and he compiled over 1,100 all-purpose yards in 2000. He also spent time at receiver and defensive back.
Lehman has spent the last two years as a starter at Cerritos College in California, where he earned junior college All-American honors. According to Leavitt, Lehman may also have potential at the center position.
On the offense, USF’s recruiting class looks strong, with Lehman joined at guard by Roland Clarke, a 6-foot-3, 285 pound Miami native who played at Northwestern High. Clarke was a starter on Northwestern’s 6A state championship team in 2000. Also on the O-line potential list is center John Miller from Belle Glades. Miller is an experienced center, who, according to Leavitt, is skilled at deep snaps, which would fit perfectly into the Bulls’ pass-heavy offense.
The last new addition to the offensive line is tackle Antonio Underwood. Underwood is from Tarrant, Ala., and will not be the only newcomer to the tackle position next season.
“We are real excited about Antonio,” Leavitt said. “He’s a big guy and he’s light on his feet, it’s hard to find guys like that. But we are still looking at bringing on a walk-on or two at offensive tackle.”Joining Williams and Mullins at quarterback is Jean Julmiste, one of two signees from Miramar. Julmiste was the MVP of the Dade-Broward all-star game last season and led Broward to a 35-14 win with three touchdown passes.
“(Julmiste) runs extremely well and throws a great ball,” Leavitt said. “He’s a tremendous leader and I think the character of a young man is important.”
At linebacker, Royal will be joined by a teammate of Julmiste’s at Miramar, Devon Davis, who had 140 tackles and five sacks last season.
Leavitt said defensive linemen were not a necessity for the Bulls, and that it would take a “pretty special player” to spark his interests. Apparently, Broward Holsey and Ramon McCullough fit his specifics. Holsey, from Clearwater, had a tremendous showing in the Pinellas County all-star game and was a starter on both the offensive and defensive line. McCullough had 60 tackles and six sacks last season, despite only playing in five games.
At defensive back, the Bulls signed two players. Roshawn Marshall from Tarpon Springs was considered by many to be the most dangerous return man in the Tampa Bay area.
The other, Drametrice Smith, from Ft. Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas High School, played in three state championships and was a key figure on special teams.
At receiver, Northview High in Century will send 6-foot-5, 190 pound Mandell Smith to the Bulls next season. Smith’s size may serve as a tremendous threat to short defensive backs, especially if he is combined with the Bulls’ current 6-foot-5 receiver, Huey Whittaker. Leavitt said one of the things that drew him to Smith was his speed. Smith runs a 10.7-second 100-meter dash.
Also at receiver is Rodney Joyner from Jacksonville’s Andrew Jackson High. Leavitt said Joyner may see time quickly at the inside receiver position.
And last but not least is running back Leonte Wright, also from Northview High. Wright scored 20 touchdowns and averaged 130 yards per game in 2001. The Bulls return Quinton Callum and Clenton Crossley to the running back position next season.
“We think (Wright) is one of the better backs in the state of Florida,” Leavitt said.
All in all, signing day ended with the Bulls filling the slots they needed. With the loss of only 10 seniors last season, the signees will simply forge the future of South Florida’s football team. But plans for the future aren’t done yet.
- Contact Jarrett Guthrie at email@example.com