The typical college football recruiting process starts in the junior and senior years of high school.
USF coach Jeff Scott had to put together a recruiting class in under two months.
Scott was introduced to fans and media Dec. 11. Two days later, he was on the recruiting trail — while also maintaining his duties as Clemson co-offensive coordinator.
“My typical way to recruit a young man and their families is to start in the ninth and 10th grade and have about a two- or three-year relationship with that young man and that family,” Scott said. “I found myself on a couple occasions this year to literally be on the phone with a young man and try to convince him, his mom and his granddad to sign two days later to a place they’ve never visited.”
Now he has a signing class of 17 players, with nine of them having signed in the December early signing period.
Scott hadn’t met those who committed before his arrival, which left the question as to whether they would stay committed. He soon found out the December class was dedicated to the vision of the program regardless.
“They just told me, ‘Coach, no offense, obviously we feel good about you, but we want to be at USF and we’ve been coming to games and we’re excited,’” Scott said. “That’s probably the biggest thing that stuck out to me. I think those guys really wanted to play here.”
Scott didn’t have the luxury of time. Given his rushed recruiting window, Scott is impressed by the quality of players he signed.
“I think it exceeded my expectations as far as the quality of players and the quality of people that we were able to bring in, in a very short amount of time.”
The short window of time might’ve been a deterrent to picking quality players. The natural response is to fill your roster with names in order to beat the clock.
Scott didn’t do that.
“Every single one of these young men that we signed, we put through a pretty thick filter,” Scott said. “It was not just finding somebody online and signing them up because we’re going late.”
Scott made sure each choice was right, even with a looming deadline.
“I would rather be slow and be right than be wrong.”
Going slow means you can take the time to develop the players you want, even if they’re not near the level you want.
“I tell our coaches, ‘Don’t complain they’re not good enough,’” Scott said. “Once we start recruiting and bringing them, in they’re our players and it’s till graduation do we part.”
Recruits are investments. It doesn’t help if the roster is a revolving door due to poor recruiting, according to Scott.
“I’m not going to be the head coach that’s running guys off the team because they’re not good enough,” Scott said.
A challenge that Scott overcame is convincing highly rated Florida recruits to sign at USF. The Sunshine State has traditionally been the source of some of the top high school recruits in the country, but top-level recruits typically look to Power Five schools.
Out of the 17 players Scott signed, 10 are from Florida. All of them were located within four hours, thanks to the geographical advantage USF has.
“It kind of dawned on me. I was like, ‘We’ve got the best location,’” Scott said. “Like to get to North Florida and South Florida, it’s no longer than a three [or] three-and-a-half-hour drive, at most.”
Scott’s desire to build and grow the program has been the main driving force behind most recruits’ decisions to sign at USF.
“There’s a honeymoon phase, if you will, but also I realize what’s genuine and what’s not,” Scott said. “There’s a genuine hunger in this program doing well.”
2020 USF Football Signing Class
Signing Class size: 17; Defense: 7; Offense: 10
Ranking (per 247Sports): Nationally: 101; AAC*: 9
Ranking (per Rivals): Nationally: Not in top 100; AAC*: 12
Three-star commits (per ESPN): 15
Four-star commits or higher (per ESPN): 0
*Includes UConn, which will not be in the AAC as of the 2020 season.
LATE PERIOD SIGNEES (8)
Le’Vontae Camiel LB 6-1 200 Fr. Lake City, Fla./Columbia HS
Tramel Logan DE 6-2 230 Fr. Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington HS
Sincere Brown WR 6-5 175 Fr. Charleston, S.C./First Baptist School
Uriah Greene OL 6-3 290 Fr. Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek HS
Katravis Marsh QB 6-5 198 Fr. Hialeah, Fla./Miami Central HS
Cesar Reyes OL 6-5 300 Fr. Tampa, Fla./Chamberlain HS
Jordan Smith QB 6-1 180 Fr. Lake City, Fla./Columbia HS
Holden Willis TE 6-4 204 Fr. Greenback, Tenn./Greenback School
EARLY PERIOD SIGNEES (DECEMBER) (9)
AJ Hamilton CB 5-10 161 Fr. Dunnellon, Fla./Dunnellon HS
Mac Harris S 6-0 200 Fr. The Villages, Fla./The Villages Charter School
Ben Knox CB 6-2 173 Fr. DeLand, Fla./DeLand HS
Christopher Townsel CB 6-2 176 Fr. Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach HS
Sione Tuitupou DT 6-4 290 So. Kailua, Hawaii/Kalaheo HS/East Los Angeles Col.
Brian Battie RB 5-8 170 Fr. Sarasota, Fla./Sarasota HS
Omarion Dollison WR 5-9 172 Fr. Columbia, S.C./Gray Collegiate Academy
Darrian Felix RB 5-11 197 Jr. Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS/Oregon
Cade Fortin QB 6-3 220 So. Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnet HS/N. Carolina