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USF picks up two signees on calm National Signing Day

Coach Charlie Strong signed 24 players in December’s early signing period. ORACLE FILE PHOTO/JACKIE  BENITEZ

Opposed to years past, USF football had one of its calmest National Signing Days ever Wednesday.

After signing 24 players in December’s inaugural early-signing period, USF added defensive tackles John Waller (St. Petersburg) and Tyrone Barber (Venice), who helped lead Venice High School to the 2017 Florida Class 7A state title, on the traditional signing day.

“National Signing Day is usually a day full of drama,” coach Charlie Strong said. “We only had to wait on two faxes to come through the machine today. During the early signing period, we signed 24 guys and were able to file a bunch of needs after losing the group of seniors we lost last year.”

Both Waller and Barber are rated as three-star athletes by 247Sports. They’ll potentially have spots to fill as USF lost last season’s starting defensive tackles Deadrin Senat and Bruce Hector to graduation.

Last season, Strong signed 18 players in his first recruiting class at USF, 17 of which signed on National Signing Day. Due to the size of the class being seven below the NCAA limit of 25 per signing period, USF was able to assign six early-enrollees that signed in December, which would’ve been members of the 2018 class, as part of the 2017 recruiting class. The early enrollees mean that USF still has five spots free to issue a scholarship to potential transfer players.

With most of his class secured by mid-December, Strong didn’t have to stress making trips across the country to try to secure commits all January.

“Last year, in the month of January, I think 172 guys de-committed and this year it was 26,” Strong said. “I kind of like the early signing period. We’re able to get some really good players so you don’t have to go into January worrying, ‘where’s this guy visiting? What happened on the visit?’”

Instead of traveling to bolster his 2018 class, Strong spent January making connections for future recruiting classes.

USF’s class is ranked second in the American Athletic Conference behind Cincinnati, ranking 56th nationally by Rivals and 61st by 247sports.

With National Signing Day behind him, Strong has already started recruiting his 2019 class, as well as building relationships for recruiting classes to come.

“I went to over 100 high schools (in January),” Strong said. “I told the coaching staff, ‘Y’all better take you a snack. We’re not stopping for lunch. We’ve got to get to as many schools as we can.’”