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Wins outweigh losses for Leavitt

USF coach Jim Leavitt is happy with his recruits but says you can't judge them on signing day.

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 8, 2001


TAMPA -- With his program moving into Division I-A next season and preparing to join Conference USA, South Florida coach Jim Leavitt decided to go after recruits who might normally be "reserved" for the state's three powerhouse programs.

But the Bulls more than held their own, he said.

USF signed 25 recruits and added five who were enrolled in the program, filling needs from kicker through offensive line.

"I am very excited," said Leavitt, giving much of the credit to his coaching staff. "I think we did real well. . . . We lost an offensive tackle to Southern Miss at the end, lost a defensive end to Tennessee that we wanted and lost Adrian (McPherson) to FSU. Other than that, we feel really good. I think we hit on all cylinders."

Five are ranked among recruiting analyst Max Emfinger's Florida Hot 100. .

But Leavitt cautioned that a recruiting class can't be judged on signing day.

"Even when I was at K-State we always had the worst recruiting class and all we ever did was beat all those people with the best recruiting classes, so it's an inexact science," Leavitt said. "You never really know how great your class is for a year or two because you have to judge character, heart, soul and how they are going to work and train. But I think people will look at this class and say we did a good job."

Of those who signed, all but Tony Pricor had orally committed before Wednesday. Pricor, a 6-foot-4 linebacker out of San Diego, played free safety in high school and was a three-time all-conference selection. Leavitt learned of him late in the process.

"He's a gold mine," Leavitt said.

Although the 2001 class fills many needs, the one area that was especially crucial was receiver, where the Bulls lost five scholarship players. Leavitt liked the running backs and tight ends and described the coaching staff as "ecstatic" with its defensive recruits, particularly the ends.

"We feel like we have the three best defensive ends in Florida in Cedric Battles, Kenny Huebner and Shurron Pierson," he said.

Huebner got things started Wednesday, becoming the first to sign and return his letter of intent.

"I'm going to be a Bull," Huebner said. "I went to some other places, and I decided USF was the place where I was going to be treated as a person and not a machine, a place where I could best develop. I'm going to become a player and start a tradition. USF goes (Division I-A) next year, and it's a place where I can become the best that I can be. . . . Not only that, but the coaching staff is phenomenal."

Only a few freshmen played last season, but Leavitt said circumstances might dictate a change this fall.

"We had 25 seniors graduate last year so there are a number of these guys that may have an opportunity possibly to play," he said.

Leavitt said he still is hoping to attract a walk-on at quarterback and at offensive tackle. Since the program's inception, 24 walk-ons have earned scholarships.

-- Staff writer Frank Pastor contributed to this report.

South Florida signees

(Name, pos., ht., wt., high school)

Joe Bain -WR -- 6-3 -190 -Pasco

*Cedric Battles -DE -6-4 -255 -Wildwood

D'Juan Brown -CB -5-11 -175 -Belle Glade Glades Central

Anthony Caldwell -LB -6-2 -225 -Pensacola Escambia

Chris Carothers -OL -6-4 -285 -Clearwater

Derek Carter -- TE -6-4 -220 -Tampa Jesuit

Justin Daniel -C -6-2 -265 -Punta Gorda Charlotte

Marcus Edwards -WR -6-0 -185 -Clearwater Central Catholic

Brian Fisher -RB -5-9 -180 -Pensacola Pine Forest

*Bruce Gipson -WR -5-10 -170 -Charlotte

Santiago Gramatica -- PK -5-10 -- 165 -LaBelle

**DeJuan Green -RB -5-11 -- 190 -Jacksonville Raines/Georgia

Eugene Hampton -WR -6-2 -- 180 -- Talahassee N. Fla. Christian

Shelly Houston -OL -6-3 -295 -Immokolee

Kenny Huebner -DE -6-3 -225 -Gaither

Johnnie Jones -DB -- 6-2 -- 190 -Sarasota Booker

Tim Jones -TE -6-3 -240 -Lakeland Kathleen

Cedric King -WR -5-11 -170 -Gibbs

C.J. Lewis -WR -5-11 -175 -Titusville Astronaut

Chris McBee -OL -6-5 -305 -Titusville Astronaut

*Greg McKay -DT -6-4 -300 -Ponchatoula (La.) High

David Mullins -QB/DB -6-2 -200 -Jacksonville Bolles

Levi Newton -OL -6-4 -305 -Jacksonville Trinity Chr.

*Shurron Pierson -DE -- 6-3 -240 -Wildwood

Tony Pricor -LB -6-4 -- 225 -St. Augustine (San Diego)

Patrick Quinn -TE -6-4 -220 -Newnan (Ga.) High

Charlie Ross -RB -6-2 -240 -Riverview

Terrence Royal -LB -- 6-2 -210 -Wharton

Elvis Smith -LB -6-2 -215 -Lake Wales

Willie Williams -QB -6-2 -- 180 -Lake Wales

* Already enrolled at USF.

** Transferred from Georgia and will enroll this fall. Will sit out the 2001 season as a I-A transfer and be eligible as a junior in 2002.

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