TAMPA, Fla. -- In today's college football world, it seems as though every college football program has its one big-time camp. The University of South Florida held its SuperBull camp this past Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.
In attendance were a little over 100 top prospects, many of whom were from the Tampa Bay area. New Bulls head coach Skip Holtz was pleased with the turnout.
"There was a lot of talent at this camp and it gave our coaches a lot of time to work one-on-one with a lot of great players," Holtz said. "We have 1.5 hours until the lightning came. There was a lot of energy, excitement and enthusiasm. I love camps like this because it's not drawn out for three or four days. It's one day, on the field, for two hours. The players get the opportunity and the coaches get the opportunity to work together. I really enjoyed it."
Unlike most programs, USF doesn't have a stadium on campus. But the Bulls use that to their advantage because they play close-by at a state-of-the-art NFL stadium that has hosted a few Super Bowls for the city of Tampa -- Raymond James Stadium.
"This is where we play," Holtz said. "Those kids got to come here and look around and they get to put together the picture of playing seven games [a year] here. They have the opportunity to come here and look around. This place is great; it's hosted Super Bowls. There are a lot of positive things going on here right now and lots of energy and excitement."
Although the third-annual SuperBull event was cut short because of lightning, it attracted a number of big-time prospects. Headlining this group were quarterbacks Matt Floyd (Milton/Pensacola, Fla.), Gary Crow (Trinity Catholic/Ocala, Fla.), and Stevie Weatherford (Land O'Lakes, Fla.), wide receivers Marken Michel (American Heritage/Hollywood, Fla.) and Andre Davis (Jefferson Senior/Tampa, Fla.), tight end Brandon Fulse (Ft. Meade, Fla.), offensive lineman Zach DeBell (Tarpon Springs, Fla.) and Tyler Pierson (Countryside/Clearwater, Fla.), defensive linemen Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg, Catholic/St. Petersburg, Fla.), Lonnie Gosha (Union County/Lake Butler, Fla.), Nile Lawrence-Stample (Nova/Davie, Fla.), and Giovani Francois (Southeast /Bradenton, Fla.), linebackers Ramik Wilson (Jefferson Senior/Tampa, Fl.), Terrance Plummer (Orange Park, Fla.), Cordivido Grice (Pensacola, Fla.) and Gionni Paul (Kathleen/Lakeland, Fla.) and defensive backs Alex Dixon (Countryside, Fla.), Josh Grady (Armwood/Seffner, Fla.) and Louchiez Purifoy (Pine Forest/Pensacola, Fla.).
The quality of prospects at SuperBull shows that the transition from the Jim Leavitt regime to the Holtz regime has been smooth in terms of recruiting, especially locally. It was an important message to send.
"The [area] coaches have been great, open and receptive," Holtz said. "We are really working locally with the closest 100 schools. The coaches all over the state have been great. I have a great staff that works extremely hard and enjoy recruiting. They are people-people and enjoy building relationships.
"The transition has been like drinking water through a fire hose. We have to identify sophomores, juniors and freshman, the guys we have to recruit, build our database and keep our eye on."
Holtz knows that this recruiting season will be a much easier go-around because his first class was built with a very short recruiting window.
"We had 10 days to recruit [the 2010 class]. I know it will take us a couple of years to get our feet entrenched in as much as we want to here. We need to know everything about our schools we are recruiting. We are just trying to be positive and work really hard at it.
"We have to change the face of our team. We have some positions I feel good about and positions we need some help. We have to recruit. It's critical to our success. It's our lifeline."
Wilson is a hot prospect
Ramik Wilson has been one of the Tampa Bay area's hottest prospects as of late. Wilson, 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds, is from Tampa Jefferson. Last season, as a junior, he recorded 120 tackles and 14 sacks.
"The camp was good and I had a chance to meet all the people," Wilson said. "I got to spend time with their linebacker coach. It was good."
Wilson has recently camped with Georgia and UCF and both the Dawgs and Knights have extended him an offer.
"Georgia was great," he said. "I went up there and got the offer. I like the coaching staff and the defensive scheme. I like the coaches at UCF. We connected up there."
According to Wilson, he has 20-plus scholarship offers from schools like Georgia, Texas Tech, USF, Cincinnati, Arkansas, and UCF.
"The main thing I am looking at is playing time. I want to contribute as a freshman."
Paul says USF will get an official visit
Three-star prospect Gionni Paul is one of the Sunshine State's top linebackers. Paul, 6-0 and 223 pounds, is from Kathleen High School (Lakeland, Fla.). He attended SuperBull and was impressive.
"I thought it was very good and I did my thing with the linebackers," Paul said. "The drills were great and I love the coaches. The coaches told me to keep working hard and keep my head straight. USF is a beautiful campus and one of the top facilities in America."
According to Paul, he has 30-plus scholarship offers, including one from the Bulls.
"West Virginia, Auburn, USF, Texas Tech, Rutgers, Auburn, LSU, Ole Miss and others have offered. I have over 30," said Paul. "I need to sit down and talk with my parents. I just want to take it one day at a time. USF will get an official [visit]. Auburn and Tennessee as well."
Monds of offers
Wonderful Monds is a linebacker prospect flying under the radar. Monds, from Ft. Pierce (Fla.) Central, participated at SuperBull and was one of many standout linebackers at this event.
"It was real fun and interesting," Monds said. "This was my third camp and college trip. I knew some of the drills and things to expect so I was prepared well."
Monds enjoyed his trip to USF and the city of Tampa.
"I really like everything about USF. I like the defense they run and I like the community."
According to Monds, he now has a trio of scholarship offers.
"Buffalo offered me last week. Youngstown offered me last month, while Kansas offered me after last season.
"I also like Ohio State, Alabama, UCF and USF. Really, I am open to all."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting both in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.