Prep football: South's Joe Fennell changes commitment from Western Kentucky to South Florida

Fort Myers quarterback T.J. Douglas is tackled by South Fort Myers' Joe Fennell (78) and Theron Peterson (11) on Oct. 12, 2012 at South Fort Myers High School.

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Fort Myers quarterback T.J. Douglas is tackled by South Fort Myers' Joe Fennell (78) and Theron Peterson (11) on Oct. 12, 2012 at South Fort Myers High School.

FORT MYERS — The University of South Florida landed more than just a new head football coach from Western Kentucky University.

The Bulls, who hired former Hilltoppers head coach Willie Taggart in early December, have snared Western Kentucky recruit Joe Fennell, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound senior lineman from South Fort Myers High School.

Fennell verbally committed to Western Kentucky during the 2012 season, but changed his plans after USF hired Taggart.

"Joe has backed off of Western Kentucky and has chosen to follow the new staff to South Florida," South Fort Myers coach Grant Redhead said Tuesday.

During his four-year varsity career at South Fort Myers, Fennell spent time on both lines. Redhead said Fennell will play on the defensive line for USF.

With the change in his college choice, Fennell will have to attain different academic standards in order to get into USF, Redhead said.

"Now the standards changed, so we have to make sure he meets those," Redhead said.

Fennell is expected to be one of at least three Wolfpack seniors that will sign on Feb. 6, National Signing Day. Athlete Jayron Kearse has committed to Clemson and safety Kenny Bishop has committed to Youngstown State.

Last August, Kearse switched his choice from Auburn to Clemson. Redhead said phone calls still come from other schools in regard to Kearse, but the commitment is strong.

"They keep calling and ask if he would consider. I said that he's going to Clemson. He says he's not looking. He says he's going there," Redhead said.

Clemson coach Dabo Swinney, defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Brent Venables and running backs coach Tony Elliott are scheduled to visit Kearse today at South Fort Myers, the same school that produced Tigers star wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

As for Wolfpack who have not committed, Redhead said interest in senior defensive back Eric Wester has picked up since the season ended. Redhead said junior linebacker D'Ronzjiah Mathews has received offers from several major programs, including Arkansas, South Carolina, Wisconsin and others.

"Everybody wants him. He's a hot commodity," Redhead said.

In other movements, recent transfers Klinger DeAlmeida (Fort Myers), Justin Hutchins (Bishop Verot) and J.D. Johnson (Evangelical Christian School) have joined the Wolfpack.

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