Last Wednesday was national signing day and with all the hoopla surrounding who was going where, the USF staff got some more good news when Hillsborough High's punter/kicker Mattias Ciabatti accepted a preferred walk-on invitation to USF.
"Yes, I accepted a preferred walk-on to USF," said Ciabatti. "It was the best fit for me. It's close to home and has the engineering program that I want to be in. It's also a school that is developing really fast and I want to be on a winning team. I also love the facilities and the opportunity that I'll have to play for a Division-I Big East team."
Ciabatti, was an All-Hillsborough County first-team selection at punter, and was considering committing to Colgate an FCS school, but turned it down to take preferred walk-on offer with the Bulls. He could have done the same with UF.
"I had offers from Colgate, North Dakota State, Holy Cross and Harvard, said Ciabatti. "I was also speaking to UF about walking on.
Mattias said why he decided to accept a preferred walk-on with USF over Florida.
"I think I have a better opportunity to play with the Bulls. I also thought the atmosphere was better at USF than at UF."
Turning down scholarship offers to walk-on at USF doesn't bother Ciabatti who is truly an academic athlete.
"At the moment Coach Holtz wants to see his kickers perform before he gives out scholarships and I'm good with that" said Mattias. "It's okay because I will get academic money for being in the International Baccalaureate program. Also, the coaches told me that walk-ons and scholarship players get the same treatment and perks. It will be no different."
"I just got my report card and my GPA is a 6.2. My SAT is a 1960 for all three sections, 1290 for two. My ACT score is a 30."
Getting the opportunity to talk with the USF coaching staff and getting to know them also helped in making his choice.
"I really like the USF coaching staff. They are very accessible when I have questions and they seem excited about getting better as a football team and that gets me excited too!"
Being a local product, Ciabatti knows several Bulls who told him all the good things about USF.
"Terrence Mitchell and Lindsey Lamar both went to my school and I played with them. They are good guys and speak very highly about the program. I also knew Bobby Eveld when I was younger, we played baseball together."
The 5'10, 170 pound Ciabatti led the county in punting last season with an average of 39.38 yards per attempt, with 12 kicks inside the opponent's 20-yard line. His long punt was a 69 yarder against Gaither.
Ciabatti also served as kicker for Hillsborough, with 23 touchbacks out of 50 kickoffs and converted five field goals. His longest was from 49 yards out. But where will he be playing at the next level?
"I'm going to go in there with the attitude that I will play either position. I think I'm a better punter than a kicker, but would gladly do both."
Mattias also played soccer his whole life which helped him with kicking and played for the club team FC Tampa.
I played soccer my whole life, and was playing U 17 when I was just 15 and had the responsibility of talking all penalty kicks. So I had practice with dealing with pressure already. My coach Steve Brown pushed me to play with the older team because he said it would make me tough and this played a big role in me being confident to play football."
USF is also heavily targeting Ciabatti's teammate, DT Earl Moore and he may do a little recruiting himself.
"Once I get to USF and experience what they have to offer I will tell him what it's like," said Mattias. "He's a great player and would be a great asset to any team, but that will be his choice."
Being a preferred walk-on there was no LOI signed and with enrollment not for several months, Mattias said they won't be any changes down the road.
"It's going to be at USF for sure!" Mattias said. "I'm very excited to begin playing college football and to be a Bull! I definitely made the right decision and I wouldn't change my mind if I had the chance."
Stick with USFNation.com as we'll have updates on all the new future Bulls in the class of 2011 coming, and also have all the updates as USF hits the recruiting trail for the class of 2012!