Recruiting is a top priority for any collegiate program to make its way to dominance. For USF, it’s even more important, given the talent-laden state in which the University resides. In the past, the top four schools in the state – Florida, FSU, Miami and USF – had the recruiting market locked down.
The recruiting tide, however, may be swinging to a familiar foe. When the Bulls take the field Saturday in their Big East opener, the opponent across the field could resemble an all-star Florida team.
Looking at the upcoming schedule, it’s hard to ignore the streaking Cardinals. But how did they get so good so quickly? To answer that question, look no further than your own backyard. Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is accomplishing something that most coaches strive to do but come up short: recruit from the fertile training grounds of the Sunshine State.
Of the 101 players on the Cardinals roster, 23 hail from the state of Florida. After a mere two games, Miami product Elvis Dumervil has managed to terrorize quarterbacks to the tune of nine sacks, an NCAA record. In fact, five out of the top 10 leaders in tackles for the Cardinals are from Florida.
Last week, prior to the UCF game, one of the main topics of conversation around the water cooler was recruiting. Many said it was pivotal for USF to win against the Knights to show recruits around the state which program is more dominant. There is a good possibility that the arrow was pointed at the wrong target.
When a team from Kentucky gets 22 percent of its players – and nearly the entire starting defense – from Florida recruiting grounds, it would seem that the pivotal win must come against the Cardinals. While the Bulls and Knights battle on the field for the recruits, Louisville has picked the lock on Florida’s back door and stolen all the candidates.
This recruiting season Louisville has already managed to nab recruits out of the Tampa Bay area. According to Rivals.com, Tampa Jesuit running back Anthony Allen has committed a solid verbal agreement to play for Louisville. Allen turned down offers from Florida, UCF and USF to play in Kentucky.
Also according to Rivals, a top quarterback prospect from the Fort Lauderdale area has already moved Louisville to the top of his list.
The UCF game was and will always be a red herring. Louisville bears much more importance not just for Big East stature, but for the future recruiting of the program.
The Cardinals are on cruise control, and it’s up to the Bulls to sway Louisville’s course and get the recruiting advantage back to Florida schools.