Land O'Lakes quarterback Stevie Weatherford said Wednesday he will not attend USF despite orally committing to the school in July, and is exploring other options for college.
Weatherford said the decision was his. After a controversial end to his senior season, in which he, head coach Matt Kitchie and defensive coordinator Jason Hatcher were suspended for the final regular-season game and missed the team's first-round playoff game due to an in-school incident, Weatherford hinted he wants to get as far away from his past as he can.
"I kind of think just getting out of the Tampa Bay area might be better for me, getting in a new environment,'' Weatherford told the Times.
"I've got some options,'' he said. "I just need to find the one that's best for me.''
The 6-foot-3, 200-pounder said he has honed in some on some new schools -- he had offers from SMU and Boston College, among others, and Louisiana Tech appears to be one of those still interested -- and hopes to decide shortly.
Kitchie, who brought in a more aggressive offensive philosophy that helped Weatherford emerge and throw for more than 4,000 yards and 50 touchdowns while going 17-3 the past two seasons, was not surprised.
"He has decided that staying in Tampa and all that comes with being close to Land O'Lakes is probably not the best decision for him,'' he said.
Weatherford was the last of six brothers to play for Land O'Lakes, including Will (now a state representative), Joe (a Division I-A quarterback recruit) and Drew, who set every Pasco County record for passing before playing at Florida State.
He was always considered the most talented of the group, and expectations were sky high. But he ran into trouble off the field, including multiple suspensions and a March 26th arrest on suspicion of burglary and grand theft, both felonies. Weatherford was never charged.
Weatherford also transferred to Tampa Catholic for a short time due to family issues, but transferred back.
Weatherford was unable to finish his most successful season when he was suspended in November for throwing a bottle in the school commons, which was then confiscated and thrown away. Questions about the contents of the bottle and the way Kitchie and Hatcher handled the situation led to their suspensions. Hatcher said at the time that principal Ric Mellin told him he had statements from others that the bottle contained alcohol and “that (he and Kitichie) were at fault and we made mistakes.”
Weatherford, who started the year chasing Drew's records, ended up throwing for 2,136 yards and 30 touchdowns in 2010.