At the end of the day the USF Football-Chase Litton marriage was never going to end well.
Litton, an enigmatic talent from Wharton High School, never wanted to be at USF despite the fact that the Bulls were his best opportunity to play early and lead a program.
The Bulls, under a new era behind head coach Willie Taggart, were never sold on Litton and never trusted him but he was the best local kid at the position and they felt obligated to take him.
And like most unhealthy marriages, the divorce was bound to be messy.
First it started with Litton’s decommitment via Twitter (“I want to apologize to USF but I will be decommitting and opening my recruitment up for my senior year”) while he was waiting to compete at Friday Night Lights, the Florida Gators recruiting showcase event. It apparently caught USF coaches off guard and later he clarified it with another tweet later in the week (“handled my de-commitment the wrong way .. want to apologize to the coaches more than anything about my communication issues .. Go Bulls”).
However, a story in the Tampa Bay Times proved to be the end that everyone was expecting. Litton spoke to Times reporter Joey Knight and said that the USF staff never made him feel like he was really a coveted member of the class. “Like, the only reason they’d talk to me is because, ‘Here, try to get this guy on board, try to get this guy’, when it was never, ‘How you doing? We want you to come down and watch some film with us.’…” Litton said to the Times.
The quarterback is generally considered the face and the ringleader of any recruiting class. The quarterback tends to commit to the school of his choice earlier and take on the role of being an unofficial recruiting coordinator to the class. For a while it seemed like Litton enjoyed that responsibility with USF. While leading a Tampa-area team to the IMG 7-on-7 National Championship in Bradenton, Litton proudly wore a USF hat and talked about bringing some top local talent with him to the program.
But it appears that was the apex of the relationship between Litton and USF. According to Josh Newberg, who covers USF football for the 247 Sports recruiting site, Litton and the USF coaches may had have some sort of a falling out during a 7-on-7 tournament held on the Bulls campus a couple of weeks ago. Litton, like many young athletes, may occasionally express a need for attention and positive reinforcement. It’s clear he felt like he wasn’t getting that from USF. On USF’s end, the coaches probably felt like they were taking a chance on Litton and he needed to prove to them that he was serious about playing quarterback for the Bulls and being a leader.
In the end Litton believes that he deserves bigger and better than USF. It’s no surprise he decommitted while visiting Florida despite the fact that it’s highly unlikely the Gators will recruit him. He is attracted to the bright lights and the championship programs. He doesn’t want to be part of a rebuilding process but rather a key member of a program looking to reload on talent. He has several scholarship offers and claims that an LSU offer is on paper although that claim has been widely disputed for a while now. Litton will likely try to continue to sell his potential to “big-name” programs with the hope that one of them bites.
USF believes that they will fare better with a leader that is more consistent and mature than Litton was. The key to any rebuilding program is finding the right leadership. And while Litton had moments where he looked like he could mature into the player they wanted, he also had moments where he needed to be cuddled and reassured. The USF program under Taggart isn’t going to do much cuddling. They want players that are mentally and physically tough and as coaches they are going to be tough on them and give them tough love.
As both Litton and USF move on, it’s quite possible that both parties will be better off. Maybe Litton finds the big program or the loving coaches he is in search of. Maybe USF finds the true leader they are looking for. However both sides should be happy that a potential disaster was avoided.
MIXED WEEK FOR BULLS RECRUITING
As USF’s first training camp under Taggart nears, the program suffered gains and losses in the recruiting world this past week. Largo linebacker Frankie Hernandez decided to back away from his commitment to USF after making the pledge this spring. However, the Bulls picked up new verbal commitments from North Miami wide receiver Stanley Cleveaux and Manatee offensive lineman Mike Galati.