By Chris Hays | Orlando Sentinel
2:41 PM EDT, June 30, 2010
Kevin Sousa abruptly ended his entire recruiting process on Tuesday with a surprise commitment to the University of Michigan, where he visited for the past two days.
We tracked him down at the Detroit Metro Airport on Tuesday evening, "Getting on a flight now, but yeah, I committed to Michigan today," Sousa said. "Just being around the people who were there I realized it would be the perfect fit for me. It's the University of Michigan ... can't turn that down."
His head coach at Lake Nona Andy Hamre wasn't surprised, of course as he's been right there along for the ride.
"No, as a matter of fact I'm surprised it didn't happen sooner," Hamre said. "We've been in contact with Michigan as well as a few other schools. Michigan kinda waited until later in the process here, but they got in to be really serious with Kevin."
Michigan made it's official offer to Sousa on Thursday of last week, and after that Sousa announced he had trimmed his list to Michigan, West Virginia, Illinois, Vanderbilt, FIU, Wake Forest, Middle Tennessee and Louisville.
"We were thinking West Virginia, Illinois or Vanderbilt would be the frontrunners, but we were kinda hoping that a Michigan or a Notre Dame, someone like that, would come along and Michigan did," Hamre said. "So Kevin wanted to get up there to check it out immediately."
Sousa, who has only played organized football for a little more than two years now, with his first big season coming last year for the first-year school Lake Nona, has been an intriguing prospect. The 6-foot-4, 217-pound specimen of an athlete looks more like a linebacker and throws more like Randy "Big Unit" Johnson.
But, under the guidance of Lake Nona assistant coach Anthony Paradiso, he's blossomed into one of the most talked-about prospects of the 2011 recruiting class. Through camps and combines and non-stop dedication to perfecting his delivery from his toes to his finger tips, Sousa has somewhat ironed out his accuracy issues, solidified his footwork and will continue to try and develop a more compact delivery with Paradiso by his side.
And he not only throws the ball, he can also run and when he gets that big body moving at a 4.5-second 40-yard dash clip, it makes him a dual-threat that not a lot of tacklers want to end up staring down.
Sousa, the No. 14-ranked player in the Sentinel's 2011 Central Florida Super60 and also ranked as the No. 98 player in the state in the Sentinel's Florida Top 100 by Bill Buchalter, passed for 1,346 yards and eight touchdowns and six interceptions in eight games. He also ran for 916 yards and five touchdowns.
Sousa enters a situation at Michigan that currently has six quarterbacks on the roster. Last year's starter is back in sophomore Tate Forcier, while sophomore Denard Robinson has also impressed the coaching staff and started the spring game, while senior-to-be Nick Sheridan is third on the depth chart, but incoming freshman Devin Gardener is likely the actual No. 3. The Wolverines also have two other QBs on the current roster in redshirt freshman Nader Furhaa and redshirt sophomore Jack Kennedy.
But he's not really concerned about playing time at this juncture.
"I really want to learn the game first and keep developing as a quarterback," Sousa said. "Whenever I'm able to play, then I'll be ready to play. They told me that every QB has a shot at being the starter."
And if it ever came down to playing other positions at Michigan, Sousa said, "I'll do whatever they tell me to do."
Sousa's parents have kind of stepped away from the whole football process and let Paradiso do his thing, but when it comes to everything else, Sousa said they have been very important parts of his development as a person and are very excited about his choice.
His mom lives in Orlando, while his father works outside Boston, a career decision the family made a few years ago. The whole family was going to move to Boston, but mom agreed to stay back after Kevin hooked up with Paradiso and the coach assured them he could be a special player if he followed through with the coach.
"She's excited and she's thankful," Kevin said of his mother. "Both of my parents are very supportive and they pay for all this stuff that's going on and I thank them a lot for it."
So here he is, two years removed from being a soccer player and potential basketball star, to one of the most high-profile quarterbacks in the nation -- and now a Michigan Wolverine. Quite a meteoric rise and a big surprise to a lot of people. But not Sousa.
"I already knew this was going to occur," Sousa said of making it to the big time and the Big House. "Coach Paradiso said it would happen if I just listened to him. But I still have a lot to prove because there are still people who doubt me."
About 20 other coaches certainly didn't doubt him, and Sousa will start thanking those coaches who recruited him, like FIU's Mario Cristobal, who was hard after Sousa from the beginning.
"That was my first offer, FIU," Sousa said. "I really respect coach Cristobal an everything he's done.
"I'm going to let every coach who recruited me know I committed and be very respectful toward them and thankful for them recruiting me."
And as for any of those coaches coming back at him to try to persuade him elsewhere?
"Right now I am committed to being a Wolverine," he said. "And the only person who could change my mind is coach Paradiso."
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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