Wharton QB Litton verbally commits to USF
Wharton High's Chase Litton, the Tampa Bay area's best prep quarterback prospect for 2014, said Monday he's staying home to play for the University of South Florida Bulls. Litton, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound dropback passer who also started on Wharton's final four basketball team, gave a verbal commitment to USF during a live broadcast on Bright House Sports Network. "USF just feels right," said Litton, the first-team quarterback on last season's Tribune all-Hillsborough County team. "Really, it always has. It was really nice to have other schools interested in me, but whether it was LSU, Miami, Tennessee or anybody else, to me they didn't have what USF has to offer." The Bulls, 3-9 last season with Skip Holtz, are entering their first season under Willie Taggart. And securing the long-term quarterback outlook is probably Taggart's top priority. USF must replace four-year starter B.J. Daniels, who accounted for 10,501 career yards of total offense. The Bulls utilized holdovers Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd during spring practice, but neither player became a clear-cut choice. Last month, former Penn State quarterback Steven Bench transferred to USF, where he will be immediately eligible this fall. The Bulls also have incoming freshman Mike White of Fort Lauderdale University, who committed to USF on Dec. 8, the day Taggart held his introductory news conference in Tampa. Now the long-term prospects include Litton and possibly Miami Jackson's dual-threat Quinton Flowers, who gave USF a non-binding verbal commitment last week, but has since backed away from that certainty. "Chase probably felt more comfortable staying in town, around his surroundings, and the things he has seen over there with coach Taggart have been impressive," Wharton coach David Mitchell said. "He has a lot of experience and a very strong arm. He can move around in the pocket and I know he'll continue to work on that. "You've got to raise your intensity at the next level. I know he wants to compete and be the best player he can be. I think it will be a motivation to do it at home." Litton said his family responded well to Taggart's recruiting style, along with the proximity to campus, about a 15-minute drive from their home. "I love the fact that my family doesn't have to sit there and watch me on TV or have to fly all over the country for my home games," said Litton, who passed for 2,738 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior. "Coach Taggart treated my mom so well and she just loved him. "I got so many text messages from my friends that said, 'I can't wait to see you play for the next four years.' Texts like that made the decision worth it." The Bulls made big local strides for Taggart's first recruiting class, signing Tampa Catholic wide receiver Zach Benjamin, Bradenton Manatee defensive tackle Derrick Calloway, Freedom defensive back Nate Godwin, Hillsborough linebacker Nigel Harris, Robinson defensive tackle Bruce Hector, Countryside defensive end Mike Love, Sarasota Booker defensive end Eric Mayes, Jesuit offensive lineman Cameron Ruff, St. Petersburg Northeast fullback Auggie Sanchez and Plant linebacker Mitchell Wright. Two of the best quarterbacks in USF history — Marquel Blackwell (Dixie Hollins) and Matt Grothe (Lake Gibson) — were from the Tampa Bay area. "Hopefully, we'll continue to get the good players from this area," Litton said. "I think the program is ready to take off."