Initial 2018 class includes six defensive linemen and two quarterbacks
BIRMINGHAM, ALA., DEC. 23, 2017 – The University of South Florida football program welcomed 24 new student-athletes during the NCAA Early Signing Period, which began Dec. 20 and ended Friday. The Bulls are expected to add more signees when the late signing period begins on Feb. 7.
Head Coach Charlie Strong and the No. 23-ranked Bulls (9-2) were in Birmingham, Ala., preparing for Saturday’s Birmingham Bowl vs. Texas Tech (ESPN, noon ET), the program’s third straight bowl appearance, during the early signing period. Strong’s first full-year recruiting class at USF got off to a great start with the Bulls receiving commitments from 12 defensive players, 11 offensive players and a punter. Twenty-two of the 24 signees were rated a three-star recruit and one drew a four-star ranking from ESPN.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls addressed the departure of three senior starters on the defensive line by signing four defensive ends and two defensive tackles. Defensive ends Dwayne Boyles (Miami), Stacy Kirby(Orlando), Trey Laing (Tallahassee) and Rashawn Yates (Port St. Lucie) bring tremendous pass rushing ability. Defensive tackles Devin Leacock(Port Charlotte) and Armon Williams (Snellville, Ga.) are powerful up the middle. The Bulls also added a pair of athletes at linebacker in Randal Copeland (Pensacola) and Antonio Grier (Atlanta), hard-hitting safeties inJuJuan Cherry (Okeechobee) and Keyon Helton (Pensacola) and teammates Vincent Davis (Jacksonville) and Eugene Bowman(Jacksonville) that shined in the secondary at Robert E. Lee High School.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulls added two dual-threat quarterbacks in the early period. Tampa native Jordan McCloud (Plant HS) and Georgia quarterback Octavious Battle (Atlanta) joined the Bulls. McCloud led Plant High School to a 12-2 record passing for 2,426 yards and 26 touchdowns and running for 389 yards and six touchdowns. Battle led Carver High School to the Class 5A state semifinal Georgia Class 5A state semifinal passing for 3,221 yards and 23 touchdowns and running for 713 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bulls also got a trio of wide receivers, including local ESPN four-star recruit Zion Roland (St. Petersburg) out of Admiral Farragut High School. He was joined by playmaking wide receivers Donovan Jennings (Miramar) and Terrence Horne (Miramar).
The Bulls added two running backs in bruising 6-2, 220-pounder Brian Norris (Chiefland) and 5-8 speedster Johnny Ford (Miami), as well as a tight end in Chris Carter (Homestead). USF also got three offensive linemen in Brad Cecil (Jacksonville), Sebastian Sainterling (Hollywood) and Ethan Watson (Pensacola).
USF also addressed a need at punter by landing Sydney, Australia nativeTrent Schneider, who averaged 38.6 yards per punt in one season at Santa Barbara City College.
2017 USF Football Early Signing Class
Early Signing Class size: 24
Offense: 11; Defense: 12; Special Teams: 1