Coach Jim Leavitt happy with signees, transfers

Wednesday, National Signing Day, is Christmas for coach Jim Leavitt. And in that sense, the 11-year coach for USF feels he got everything he wanted out of his 2007 recruits.

USF’s class was ranked 49th out of the Division I schools, and the Big East finished fifth out of the BCS conferences, while Pittsburgh was the highest Big East school at No. 9.

At Wednesday’s press conference, Leavitt started off opening his presents with the running backs.

“I think we definitely answered our running back question,” Leavitt said. “Running back was really important – that was really our target, and we did real well in that area.”

In all, Leavitt picked up three more running backs on top of already having three returning from the 2006 season.Josh Bellamy and Tyson Butler add depth to an already very deep position, but Leavitt scarcely mentioned an early enrollee: Mike Ford.

“We’re feeling real good at running back,” Leavitt said. “Certainly you got Mike Ford, but Bellamy and Butler can really carry the ball.”

Another position Leavitt desperately wanted – and needed – to address was linebacker, as the Bulls lose veteran linebackers Stephen Nicholas and Pat St. Louis to graduation.

USF picked up Iowa State transfer Tyrone McKenzie, Tallahassee native Keith McCaskill, Deland High standout Calvin Sutton and Pearl River Community College transfer Donte Spires.

“We lost Patrick and Stephen. Everyone knows that,” Leavitt said. “But I thought we did real well to fill up that depth.”

Center is another position Leavitt was worried about with the graduation of starter Nick Capogna, but Leavitt added he wanted to bolster the entire line of scrimmage.

“We’ve been wanting to build our offensive line because I don’t think we ever really have while I’ve been here,” Leavitt said. “I think we’re finally pretty deep in linemen.”

USF added five offensive linemen in this year’s class, and Leavitt was extremely happy with the defensive line recruits.”This might be the best we’ve ever done (on the defensive line),” Leavitt said.

The player Leavitt really pushed for moving up the defensive line was defensive tackle Corian Garrison – listed at 6 feet, 4 inches and 295 pounds from Bradford High in Starke.

“We’re real excited about him. I feel real good about Corian,” Leavitt said.

Despite the success quarterback Matt Grothe saw as starter in 2006, Leavitt still added one quarterback: Pasco County standout Alton Voss. Leavitt said he “fell in love with Alton the first time at camp,” but still said he has to compete.

“I think anywhere you go, a quarterback has to compete,” Leavitt said. “It’s the most important position, and you’ll always have quarterbacks come in. He just has to go and play.”

Leavitt, who will be quick to admit just how much he loves recruiting, said this year’s trails were a little different, and he credits that to two things.

“I thought we had more pop in recruiting this year,” Leavitt said. “I think the BCS conference helps because the Big East got a lot notoriety this year. People like the location of USF, but they know what we’ve done here.

“What was different when we went out and recruited – people knew we were in the Big East. People knew we won our bowl game and that we were a player (to win the Big East). We didn’t have to explain our story as much. It’s there.

“We would walk in and you feel as though you were a Florida, Florida State or Miami. You really did.”

2007 Football Recruits

Oral commitments/transfers

Josh Bellamy, RB (6-0, 180), Boca Ciega; Dontavia Bogan, WR (6-1, 187) Thomasville (Ga.) Thomas County; Tyson Butler, RB (5-11, 180) Fort Myers-Cypress Lake; Kyle Dampier, DT (6-3, 275), Merritt Island; Claude Davis, DE (6-3, 225), Lake Gibson; Sampson Genus, C (6-1, 320), Lake City-Columbia; Richard Kelly, RB (6-0, 240), South Sumter; Terrell McClain, DT (6-3, 290), Pensacola; Lawrence McCoy, OT (6-6, 265), Valdosta (Ga); Darren Powe, DE (6-2.230), Mayo Lafayette; Patrick Richardson, WR (6-1, 185), Pensacola Woodham; Charlton Sinclair, S (6-0, 190), Jacksonville- Mandarin; Donte Spires, LB (6-3, 230), Plant/Pearl River C.C.; Calvin Sutton, LB (5-11, 220), DeLand; Alton Voss, QB (6-2, 220), Gulf; Quenton Washington, DB (5-11, 165), North Fort Myers; Kevenski McGee, TE, (6-2, 250), Pahokee; Corrian Garrison, DT, (6-4, 295) Starke-Bradford County; Patrick Hampton, DE, (6-3, 220) Lithonia (Ga.), King; Thomas Edenfield, OT, (6-6, 310), Bartram Trail; Mike McGowan, TE, (6-5, 255), West Boca Raton.

Early enrollees:

David Fonua, DE (6-2, 255), Bradenton-Southeast; Mike Ford, RB (6-2, 220), Sarasota; Kevin McCaskill, OL (6-2, 290), Tallahassee- Godby; Tyrone McKenzie, LB (6-2, 230), Riverview/Iowa State; Jeremiah Warren, OL (6-3, 290), Panama-City Bay.