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Bulls in final three for Orlando QB Sousa

27

January

I'm a little late to the party on this, but there's a key name still in play for USF in the final week before national signing day on Wednesday: Kevin Sousa, a dual-threat quarterback from Orlando's Lake Nona High who has the Bulls among his final three options. He'll make an unofficial visit to USF on Friday, then should decide on Sunday or Monday.

Sousa is a talented, if complicated, recruit -- he committed to Michigan last June, then backed out in December and committed to Wake Forest. He still considers himself a Wake Forest commitment, though he made an official visit to Miami last week and is now headed to USF this weekend. USF coach Skip Holtz visited him last week and offensive coordinator Todd Fitch visited his school on Tuesday (Miami's new offensive coordinator, Jedd Fisch, followed on Wednesday.)

"Will it surprise me if he signs with USF next week? No, it wouldn't surprise me at all," said his head coach at Lake Nona, Andy Hamre. "USF is a team he has been talking about quite a bit, it's two hours from home for him, and it's a program on the rise."

Sousa -- rated a three-star recruit by Rivals and Scout -- didn't take up football until the spring of his freshman year -- he'd played soccer up to that point, and after one year at Orlando Cypress Creek, he transferred to Lake Nona when the school opened in 2009. The school has struggled to win as a young program, but Sousa has picked up a lot of attention in his two seasons as starter.

Recruits are allowed five official (all-expenses-paid) visits, and Sousa has already used all five -- on Michigan, Louisville, Wake Forest, Miami and Middle Tennessee. He's been to USF several times, knows the coaches well, but said the main thing he's looking for on his unofficial visit is to see the chemistry among players and coaches.

"Everything is wide-open," Sousa said of his three finalists. "I like Coach Holtz -- he's a great guy, very classy coach. He's been recruiting me hard, and I want to see what USF has to offer."

You'll get different answers on Sousa's size -- you'll see anywhere between 6-2 and 6-4. Hamre said he's 6-3 and 220 pounds, and his senior stats reflect a threat to run or throw: about 2,400 yards passing and 970 rushing, according to Hamre (ESPN says 2,144 and 958). The Sentinel rated him as one of the state's top 100 prospects, but also only had him on the second-team for its All-Orange County team, and not the quarterback but an "athlete" designation on that second team; this probably has to do with the team's lack of success as much as anything else. When he committed to Michigan, he said he was open to playing other positions if asked.

His quarterback coach and offensive coordinator, Anthony Paradiso, is a USF alum who was one of the Bulls' first quarterbacks in 1996, the year before USF's first game. Sousa speaks highly of Paradiso, who we mentioned here in 2006 when he was head coach at Crystal River: "He's my mentor. He's turned me into the player I am today ... He's a big part of my life," so it's reasonable to think Paradiso's USF background could help the Bulls in a close decision.

Miami also clearly made an impression on Sousa -- the Hurricanes don't have any quarterbacks in their current class, and the profile picture on his Facebook page shows a Hurricanes jersey with the No. 8 he wore at Lake Nona. Then again, USF is in a strong position -- getting a recruit's final visit is like batting in the bottom of the inning, with the last chance to impress someone. Sousa said he expects to spend Friday night in Tampa and return home on Saturday.

There's an interesting dynamic between USF and Wake Forest regarding the battles for Sousa and for Armwood's Josh Grady. Wake is recruiting Grady as a quarterback, USF as a safety, and the Bulls could easily land both, or neither of them. It's hard to imagine Wake Forest getting both at the same position, though USF might have a better chance because they wouldn't compete against each other in Tampa.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 10:54am]

    

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