After wrapping up the 2023 season with a resounding 45-0 win over Syracuse, USF football aims to carry that momentum onto the recruiting trail.
Head coach Alex Golesh ended the Early National Signing Day period with the school’s best recruiting class since 2014. The Bulls (7-6, 4-4 AAC) also own the best class among all Group of Five programs, according to the 247 Sports Composite.
“We’re getting better, we’ve laid a foundation, we’re building, we’re growing,” Golesh said at the Early National Signing Day press conference. “And I think that’s easy to sell because you’re seeing something happening.”
The next signing window for high schoolers is from Feb. 7 until April 1, and USF will continue searching for talent until then.
However, since the end of the Early Signing period, Golesh and his staff have continued to add talent to the roster through the transfer portal.
Who’s in/Who’s out:
The Bulls have built an impressive transfer class so far, bringing in several players from Power Five programs around the country.
The class includes talented players like former four-star receiver Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen from Purdue.
The most recent addition is graduate offensive tackle Junior Uzebu from Vanderbilt, who saw time at both tackle spots during his time in the SEC.
Uzebu will look to bolster an offensive line that struggled to protect the quarterback in 2023, giving up 43 sacks on the year.
USF experienced some losses to the portal as well.
Most notable is senior running back Michel Dukes. Dukes was arrested last spring on charges of domestic battery last spring and pleaded no contest on August 31. He saw action in nine games and tallied 350 yards for the Bulls in 2023.
Freshman quarterback Israel Carter also entered the transfer portal in early January but withdrew his name just four days later.
Keeping Florida talent home
The Bulls heavily focused on recruiting in-state during this cycle, signing 19 recruits from Florida on Early Signing Day alone.
Keeping talent in-state has been one of Golesh’s goals since he arrived on campus.
“I think the thing I’m most proud of is what we’ve done from a geographic standpoint of recruiting home base really, really hard,” Golesh said. “If we can get guys from the state of Florida and Georgia in this area, we’re going to continue to be able to have success.”
USF has also brought players who left the state during their recruitment back to Florida, signing three such players, including junior safety D’Marco Augustin from Youngstown State.
Augustin appeared in at least 10 games every season since 2021, and racked up 117 tackles and two forced fumbles during his time as a Penguin.
Shoring up the secondary
The defensive secondary was a position of need for USF coming into this offseason.
The Bulls allowed an average of 288.8 passing yards, which was the second most in the country last season.
Golesh has brought in seven defensive backs this offseason to remedy this, signing three during the Early Signing window.
Sophomore Kajuan Evans from South Carolina and junior De’Shawn Rucker from Tennessee headlined the four defensive backs brought in as transfers.
The pair graduated from Godby High in Tallahassee before leaving for out-of-state SEC schools, and are among the many Floridians Golesh has been trying to bring home.