There's no question that there is an abundance of talent in USF's backyard this year. However, with a new coaching staff in place, there is a period of transition where the coaches need to get familiar with their new recruiting grounds. Sometimes there are talented players that go unnoticed for whatever reason or the coaches need more time to evaluate. For Robinson High School's Ruben Gonzalez, the latter seems to be the most appropriate explanation.
For those that do not know, Ruben Gonzalez is a 6'3 200 lbs prospect from Robinson High School in Tampa. He is rated one of the top 60 prospects in Florida by SunStateFootball.com. Gonzalez, who plays both wide receiver and safety, caught 40 passes for 599 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior, while also recording more than 40 tackles and one interception on defense.
While he plays multiple positions, USF likes him at safety.
"Yeah they want me as a safety. Coach Holtz told me that with my athleticism, they'll find some place to put me. They'll put me wherever I best fit. Even Coach Smith thinks I can play anywhere on that field. If they feel I need to be somewhere else where I can progress and play at the next level then that's where I'll be. Other than that I see myself playing either wide receiver or safety."
"Coach Smith told me if I commit, he'll be doing back flips," laughed Ruben. "Coach Smith is cool guy. He's very up-front about everything too. I like Coach Smith."
Recently, Gonzalez paid a visit to USF during their second 7-on-7 Sling and Shoot Tournament for the summer and came away with what he was looking for.
"I went to Coach Holtz's office and we had a little chat and I got the offer."
This is not the first time Gonzalez has visited USF as he has attended several practices as well USF's annual Super Bull camp not to mention he competed in USF's first Sling and Shoot tournament. Gonzalez commented on what has changed since then.
"Coach Holtz talked about how he never got the chance to have a one-on-one chat with me and talked about how he wanted to offer me."
"The USF offer, I like it, it's close to home and now I have a place to stay if I wanted to stay by the house."
With over twenty offers, Gonzalez is not ready to formulate a short list, but commented on what he is looking for when it comes to choosing a school.
"I'm looking for a school with Sports Medicine and I want to see how good of a program the Sports Medicine is. That's what I'm looking forward to because I want to study Sports Medicine in college."
During the recruiting process, offers from schools can come at almost anytime. With some prospects the timing of the offer can affect their decision. Is that the case with Gonzalez and specifically with USF?
"No, USF would have offered me earlier, but it's ok. Coach Holtz told me everything, he told me that he wanted to offer me from the beginning but the whole staff wasn't there to sit down and chat about it. I can't hold that against Coach, so it's ok."
Gonzalez also commented on what makes USF an attractive school.
"The school is expanding, so the athletics are expanding. That's opening up a bigger program. That's going to be very cool. The facilities are about to improve tremendously, so look out for them. That's why I need to keep them in mind, big time."
"It was pretty good, I did get to talk to Ole Miss and Tennessee and they seemed pretty interested, but I didn't pick any [offers] while I was there."
After attending several camps and going on a few visits. Gonzalez discussed his plans for the rest of the summer as well as his plans for official visits.
"I'm about done, I may visit Purdue maybe, but I think I'm about done. I need to stay in my home," laughed Gonzalez.
"I'll probably take my official visits around playoff time maybe, after the season because it's kind of hard to visit while you're playing ball games. You expect all of your visits to be at least three or four days. So it makes it harder to do it during the season. I need to do a little more research before I know which schools [I'll visit]."
Even though Gonzalez is not close to making a decision his family already has a favorite school in mind.
"They love it there [USF], but they told me to make the right choice and go where I think I'll fit. They're all for USF of course, especially my grandmother."
"Like I said, I haven't made a list or anything. Like last year, we lost a game before States and there's so many of us coming back, so really that's my main focus. I still have college planning in my head but I have to just focus on getting my guys ready to work."