USF working hoops angle on QB Daniels, too
One of the biggest names in play for USF on national signing day is Tallahassee Lincoln quarterback B.J. Daniels, a four-star recruit who has narrowed his choices to USF and Memphis. And the Tigers are pulling out the stops in their recruiting, going so far as to reportedly send basketball coach John Calipari -- he of the only undefeated team in the country -- to one of Daniels' basketball games in Tallahassee.
"Basketball is very important to me, and I'd like to have the opportunity to play both," the 6-foot-1 Daniels told the Memphis Commercial Appeal last week. "I feel like at Memphis I could do both. I talked to some of their assistant (basketball) coaches, and they said I'd have a chance to do both."
I can't tell if Calipari actually went or not -- I've seen stories where Daniels said he was nervous playing with the coach in attendance, but Lincoln hoops coach Paul O'Halloran told me Monday that Calipari wasn't in the gym, but rather a Memphis assistant. What O'Halloran did say was that Daniels is averaging 27.5 points per game -- most in the area, he said -- and in good position to be "Big Bend Player of the Year" in basketball, an honor he already won in football in the fall.
Turns out USF is working the basketball side of things as well. When Daniels made his official visit to USF two weeks ago, the Bulls had him speak with USF men's basketball coach Stan Heath, who told Daniels he would have a chance to earn a spot on the basketball team. Heath has as good a history with two-sport athletes as any basketball coach around, with two former players in the NFL -- Chargers tight end Antonio Gates at Kent State and Jaguars receiver Matt Jones at Arkansas.
Again, Daniels isn't going to make his decision based on basketball, but it sounds like a peripheral factor he's exploring at both schools. Memphis has almost no ties to Lincoln -- they have only two Florida players on their current roster, both from the Miami area, while USF has a long relationship with Lincoln, most recently with cornerback Ryan Gilliam and the late Keeley Dorsey.
One card Memphis can play is a more wide-open quarterback situation: their 2007 starter, Martin Hankins, who threw for 3,220 yards and 25 touchdowns, has graduated, though there are three scholarship quarterbacks returning, including junior Will Hudgens, who threw for 587 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.