South Florida's recruiting class among best in AAC

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Coach Willie Taggart is counting on one of the top recruiting classes in the American Athletic Conference to help him restore winning ways at South Florida.

The Bulls received national letters of intent from 19 prospects on national signing day, and they'll join two highly-regarded newcomers who are already enrolled at USF.

Taggart's took over a struggling program in December 2012 and is confident the Bulls are headed in the right direction, despite a 6-18 record over the past two seasons.

This year's recruiting class includes offensive lineman Reilly Gibbons, a 2014 Stanford signee from St. Petersburg Catholic, who's already on campus participating in USF's winter conditioning program. He announced his intention to transfer last fall and is awaiting a decision from the NCAA on how soon he'll be eligible to play for the Bulls.

Brett Kean, of Lakewood, Ohio, is the only quarterback in the class, which includes five offensive linemen, five defensive backs and four receivers.

''He's a winner,'' Taggart said of Kean, who played at Fort Lauderdale (Florida) University High before moving to Ohio and leading St. Edward High School to a state championship as a senior. ''Highly competitive, a very confident kid. ... a leader.''

USF, which has been in decline since climbing as high as No. 2 in the nation eight years ago, will return 14 starters from a young team that improved from two wins in 2013 to four last season.

Former Purdue coach Danny Hope has joined the program as Taggart's third offensive coordinator in three years. Former Mississippi linebackers coach Tom Allen is the Bulls' new defensive coordinator.

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SOUTH FLORIDA(equals)

Top 25 Class: No.

Best in class: Reilly Gibbons, ol, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Chris Barr, wr, Jacksonville, Fla.

Best of the rest: Khalid McGee, s, Miami, Fla.; Jarvis Baxter, wr, Garland, Texas; Brett Kean, qb, Lakewood, Ohio.

Late addition: None (all 20 players who committed verbally signed).

One that got away: Jordan Griffin, lb, Tampa, Fla. (Long-shot to pick USF signed with Vanderbilt after initially committing to Wisconsin).

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