TAMPA — The University of South Florida lost a major cog of its offense with the graduation of all-time leading rusher Andre Hall. His replacement just might be Naples-raised.
Redshirt freshman Moise Plancher, a former star at Barron Collier, is listed as one of two first-team running backs on the Bulls' depth chart. Having yet to play a college football game, his experience is limited. But USF coach Jim Leavitt said his ability is not.
"He's hung onto the ball, probably more than the other guys," Leavitt said Sunday, the second day of the Florida Sports Writers Association's Media Days held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. "He's got good balance and runs pretty good. He's a great guy and plays hard."
Plancher has had the reputation of being an effective runner. He rushed for more than 3,000 yards his last two seasons at Barron Collier, earning third-team all-state recognition as a junior and honorable mention as a senior.
The Bulls' other Collier County product, Louis Gachette, is listed as the starting strong safety.
"Louis is an outstanding player," Leavitt said. "He's a big guy and a hitter. He came in as a quarterback, so you know he's got skills."
Gachette is one of three converted quarterbacks in the USF secondary, and Leavitt said that's no freak occurrence.
"I just think they're guys who are very smart and know the game," Leavitt said. "You have to find out if they can hit you. They're obviously leaders, because you don't play quarterback and have any success if you don't have leadership."
ALAJAJIAN EXCITES FIU'S STROCK: The first signee of Florida International University's 2006 recruiting class was Naples High offensive lineman Joe Alajajian, and he could make an immediate impact as a freshman for the Golden Panthers.
The 6-foot-3, 285-pound former Golden Eagle was recruited as a guard and is not yet on the two-deep depth chart, but Strock wouldn't be surprised to see that change.
"Well, Joe is a guy that we're very excited about playing guard, and we're trying to work him at center a little bit, too, because we think he's athletic enough to do that," Strock said Sunday.
"We really like how aggressive he is."
Alajajian joins Gulf Coast grad Tyler Clawson on the active roster, a redshirt freshman linebacker who Strock described as "still developing." Clawson, 19, is 6-1, 225 and worked with FIU's scout team last year after starring for the Sharks and head coach Frank Tudryn for four years. He was the team captain as a senior, the defensive MVP and was voted first team all-county and all-district as a senior.
One more local tie at FIU is junior defensive lineman Billy Reiman, a Lely High grad who transferred from Sacred Heart University and has to sit out this year. Reiman (6-3, 220), turns 20 on Sept. 10 and will be eligible to play in 2007.
Strock also said he plans to recruit the Fort Myers and Naples area more and already has a visit scheduled for next year.