Fortunately for Holtz, he inherits a team that has a solid offensive nucleus returning, especially up front and at quarterback, so he and his new coaching staff can concentrate on filling out the defense, and there are some huge holes, especially at defensive end, linebacker and the secondary.
- GRADE: Incomplete. With a new coach coming in the middle of January, this class is simply in limbo right now.
- LEAVING: Matt Grothe is the most decorated quarterback in the Bulls' short football history and he was and will be a huge loss as an out-going senior, but the midseason injury that ended his USF career was a huge benefit for freshman QB B.J. Daniels. Elsewhere on offense, USF only loses two starters in WR Jessie Hester and RB Mo Plancher, although Plancher will petition for another year of eligibility. Defensively, however, the Bulls lose six starters, including five with NFL potential. Gone will be DE George Selvie, LB, Kion Wilson, DB Jerome Murphy, FS Nate Allen and junior DE Jason Pierre-Paul will test NFL waters, as will WR Carlton Mitchell.
- RETURNING: Starters 8 offense, 5 defense. The offense will nearly remain intact. All five offensive linemen return to protect Daniels. Part-time starting TE Andrew Ketchel will be back, as will WRs Dontavia Bogan and A.J. Love. Mike Ford is back at running back and Plancher could return. Defensively, the Bulls will need players to step up. You can't replace all-American-type talent like Selvie and Pierre-Paul, but Patrick Hamilton and Craig Marshall will battle for the right-side DE spot and David Bedford looks to be the heir-apparent on the left. USF will be shallow in the backfield, with corners Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster, and safety Jon Lejiste returning with the most experience. At linebacker, Sabbath Joseph is the lone starter back.
- SCHOLARSHIPS: Between 24-28, but it's hard to say due to the atmosphere surrounding the whole Leavitt saga. Some players could choose to leave, freeing up more scholarships.
- COMMITMENTS: 19
- NEED FULFILLED: Assuming the current commitments hold true, the Bulls look to have answered some of their defensive questions with a pair of juco signings in DB Curtis Weatherspoon (Dean College, Mass.) and DE Claude Davis (East Mississippi CC). Venice DE Brandon Wilkinson could earn a starting spot should he play his way into the position. At running back, Blinn (Texas) JC transfer Mike Hayes could be a huge figure at running back. He was part of the juco national champion team. Fork Union (Va.) Military RB Adarius Bellamy could provide depth. USF has 6 OL commitments, which seems like overload, but depth and experience will be a future plus. The only other problem the Bulls might have is a solid back-up for QB Daniels. His backup this past season was Evan Landi, who former coach Levitt had planned to move to WR. Brion Carnes of Bradenton Manatee is the Bulls' lone QB commitment so far, and Carnes may even switch his college choice.
- STILL NEED: The Bulls are in need of some d-backs and in a big way. They only have five players filling out the depth chart at more than one position. Surprisingly, there are none currently on USF's commitment board. This need will have to be addressed quickly by the new coaching staff. Weatherspoon will help immediately, but the Bulls only have 3 prospects on their watch list and Hillsborough's Terrence Mitchell isn't likely signable by his hometown Bulls. USF could also use some linebackers, another position for which it has no commitments. The Bulls also could use some wide receiver talent.
- NATIONAL RANKING: No. 53 by Rivals.com, No. 56 by Scout.com.
- SUCCESS OR FAILURE? This class could quickly become a success with a pair of solid DBs joining the mix, as well as if the Bulls can lure a linebacker like Darrin Kitchens out of Homestead. Tampa Plant DB Eric Dungy may be a possible commitment, but certainly not an answer to fill in immediately. Offensively, the Bulls are all set, plugging holes and providing key depth. The Bulls could also benefit from key redshirts from last season.
- EXPERT OPINION: "There is no reason USF can't be as successful as, say, Cincinnati has been. There are certainly enough recruits in the state. There is talent on the roster. The Big East looks winnable. As of today, USF points Skip Holtz at all of it." Gary Shelton, St. Petersburg Times
Chris Hays is recruiting coordinator for the Orlando Sentinel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.