Orlando Oak Ridge slot receiver Deangelo Antoine commits to USF. (July 28) (CHRIS HAYS / ORLANDO SENTINEL)
When Deangelo Antoine was making play after play at the USF Sling&Shoot 7on7 event two weeks ago, Bulls coaches on hand that day could be seen taking notice, raising their eyebrows as if quite impressed by the flashy slot receiver.
The Orlando Oak Ridge speedster took notice of the attention. Led by offensive coordinator Paul Wulff, the Bulls coaching staff started recruiting Antoine more aggressively, offering a scholarship to the 5-foot-10, 165-pounder that same week.
Four days later, Antoine, the NO. 12-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2015 Central Florida Super60, decided joining the Bulls was his best option and committed this past Monday.
"They're not far, their home ... like almost in Orlando," Antonie said of USF. "And everyone else, I went to their camps and I guess I wasn't enough. USF wants me for my talents so I decided that's where I should go."
He definitely showed his skills at the various camps he's been to this summer, especially at Florida State, where he was not only making big-time plays in receivers drills, but he also clocked a 4.3-second 40-yard dash on the turf of the indoor facility that seemed to briefly raise the eyebrows of FSU coaches. He also turned in a solid performance at last week's Friday Night Lights camp in Gainesville.
Nonetheless, the slight-of-height Antoine never heard from the Seminoles or Gators or any other schools, for that matter. He picked the Bulls over offers from Louisville, Marshall and UMass, and even the Louisville offer was suspect because that came from the former Cardinals coaching staff under Charlie Strong.
"When I was [at USF], for them to show me some love like they did, it was nice. I was hoping to leave with an offer, but USF was always in the back of my head," he said. "I was still thinking about them even when I was at UF last week."
USF is the first school that has shown interest in Antoine as an offensive weapon and this season will be his first in which he becomes more of a featured player on the offensive side of the ball at Oak Ridge. His previous three seasons were played mostly at cornerback, but he wants the ball and head coach Elijah Williams is going to give it go him.
"He likes that I'm fast and I'm good with the ball in my hands and he likes that," Antoine said. "They see what I can do with the ball in my hands and they want to give me the opportunity to display that."
His defensive skills had not necessarily prospered as much as some might have figured, although he's still a solid cover corner. What he does on offense, however, is something that leaves fans on the edge of their seats every time the ball goes his way.
His ability to stop and cut leaves opponents in the dirt and then he turns on that speed.
"I want the ball in my hands and it's not too late in the game," Antoing said. "But right now I'm locked in to USF."
A big senior season with a new focus on offense might bring more offers and a change of heart for Antoine, but he says he's all in with head coach Willie Taggart's Bulls.
"I don't think it will change things really because I think I picked USF for good reasons," Antoine said. "Recruiting is a long process though."
The process has been a bit frustrating for the gifted athlete.
"Yes I've been frustrated by it, but patience is everything," said Antoine, who will join former teammate Guito Ervilus on the Bulls roster should he indeed sign on National Signing Day, Feb. 4. "You have to be patient in the recruiting process.
"It feels good to know that I have somewhere to go when the time comes and now I can just play football."
He still needs to take his college entrance test and plans to do so with the ACT next month. He carries a 3.5 GPA.
Oak Ridge will be transitioning to a new quarterback this year, so the production will come with growth at that position. Antoine teams up with FSU commit Nyqwan Murray at the other wideout spot and the Pioneers are expected to put up some numbers.
Last year at Oak Ridge, during a bit of a tumultuous season for the Pioneers that saw first-year head coach Ricky Watters resign midseason, Antoine caught 38 passes for 706 yards and five touchdowns.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting, and on Instagram at os_recruiting.