It was all smiles for USF coach Willie Taggart at his National Signing Day press conference, and for good reason.
Taggart and his staff secured the top recruiting class in the AAC for the second consecutive year — the 65th best class in the nation — according to 247Sports.com. Taggart reeled in 19 signees, in addition to one early enrolled athlete and a four-star transfer, which brought 21 total members to the 2015 class.
As far as such days go, USF’s signing went by calmly and without upset, with all 19 commits signing by the end.
“You always wait for that last fax to come in,” Taggart said. “You just want to get them all in. It’s all a fight until you hear that machine start running.”
The switch to the spread offense for next season made speed and depth a priority for USF, and Taggart felt he filled those voids.
“(The spread offense) didn’t affect the recruiting cycle, but we did address some needs that we had in order to spread it out from a depth standpoint,” Taggart said. “We did a great job in identifying those players that could help us.”
One of the key prospects on offense was cornerback-turned-receiver Chris Barr of Trinity Christian Academy, whose speed playmaking ability, Taggart said, will allow him to contribute early.
Staff changes usually spell doubt for recruits, but USF’s class didn’t waiver its commitment to the Bulls.
“When you have a staff change in the middle of recruiting, there’s always concern about losing some guys,” Taggart said. “But our (staff) came in and hit the ground running.”
The only quarterback in this year’s class was two-star Brett Kean, who before transferring to St. Edward High School in Ohio, spent his first three years at University High School in Ft. Lauderdale — junior Mike White’s alma mater.
“He’s a winner,” Taggart said. “He’s a very confident kid that’s poised and can make guys miss and extend some plays. Those are the qualities you look for at the position and he’s a great leader as well.”
Taggart was able to make his presence known in the Tampa Bay area, with Plant receiver Jordan Reed (three-star), Tarpon Springs tight end Mitchell Wilcox (three-star), Sickles corner back Nate Ferguson (three-star) and Clearwater Catholic offensive lineman Billy Atterbury (three-star) all coming from local schools, according to 247Sports.com.
“You work so hard and put in so much work and you’re gone from your family, doing so much to keep these kids on board,” Taggart said. “It’s refreshing to see that all the hard work you put in is paying off.”
USF starts morning team conditioning Monday with the first spring practice Feb. 23.