Former Robinson High School Head Football Coach, Mike DePue, has seen plenty during his long coaching tenure. But DePue says he was stunned by what happened late Sunday night, when one of his senior players, offensive lineman, Connor Rafferty, learned that his scholarship offer to play football at the University of South Florida had been revoked.
"Listen, this is part of the business of college football.", DePue said. "There are guys on an actual team who will lose their scholarships."
But it was the process that has left a bad taste for USF football in DePue's mouth.
According to DePue, Rafferty's family was contacted by a member of the USF coaching staff at 10:30pm, Sunday night, and informed that Rafferty's commitment to play football at the school was no longer needed.
A conversation between DePue and Bulls Head Coach, Willie Taggart, followed Monday morning. DePue did not disclose the details of the phone call other than its heated nature.
"You don't lay a foundation of trust by doing something like this in your own back yard.", DePue said.
It is not uncommon around the country for a new college head coach to review his entire program, it's talent and direction, before making a difficult decision to release a current player or take back a scholarship offer from a prospective player.
Taggart inherited a Bulls program that went 3-9 during the 2012 season, 5-7 the year before. Per NCAA regulations, Taggart is not able to defend his decision regarding Rafferty's scholarship offer, nor any other recruits who might face the same dilemma.
But with National Signing Day looming, just more than three weeks away, Rafferty's one-time full commitment has now become a race find an opportunity to play college football.
"I was told they (USF) would honor scholarships offered by Skip (Holtz)", said DePue, refering to the former Bulls Head Coach, fired December 2nd, the day after the team's final game of the season.
The Rafferty family felt the same way, until the phone rang Sunday.
DePue says the Robinson High football program uses popular recruiting services to promote its players at all levels of college football. Rafferty was especially aided by these tools because of the lack of attention garnered by offensive linemen, unable to produce gawdy stastistics to attract the attention of college coaches.
But upon verbally committing to USF in 2012, Rafferty and his family elected to skip the recruiting process during the player's senior season at Robinson.
"His parents said they were committed to USF.", DePue said. "Don't bother sending stuff out."
Rafferty recruiting is back in full swing now. DePue says an official scholarship offer has already been made by Eastern Kentucky, an FCS (formerly Division I-AA) program. Kent State has also expressed an interest in Rafferty.
National Signing Day is February 6th, the first day high school players submit written letters of intent to play college football.
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