Fort Pierce Central defensive back Joseph Figueroa was like a ping pong ball last weekend, bouncing back and forth between his home and the middle of the state.
Figueroa attended USF’s spring game on Saturday in Tampa before returning to Fort Pierce. He then traveled to Orlando on Sunday for the Nike Football Training Camp at Wide World of Sports, then returned south again before heading to Orlando one more time to visit UCF on Monday.
That is a lot of driving, but it is a small price to pay for Figueroa, who is intrigued with both UCF and USF.
“If either one were to offer, they would most likely be number one on my board right now,” Figueroa said. “Because they are a home state team, I want to give them the benefit of the doubt.”
Figueroa seemed impressed by both schools.
“UCF, I’ve been there quite a few times,” Figueroa said. “We do our team camp there every year, so I know a little bit about the team. I know they’re changing to the Big East conference. I talked to the defensive back, Coach [Kirk] Callahan, a lot. He’s really interested in me. They want to see me in team camp [in June] and if they’re impressed at the team camp, they’ll offer me there.”
He added: “The USF visit was great. Not only did they show me around the campus, they gave me a tour of all the athletic facilities. I had the privilege to talk to some of the coaching staff and players after their annual spring game at Raymond James Stadium.”
It was key for USF to see Figueroa in person. At 5-foot-10, 180-pounds, he is just a tad undersized, but he said the Bulls’ coaching staff thought he was big enough after measuring him up.
“The plan is for the coaching staff to continue watching me through the spring and [USF] will make a decision sometime between the start of spring practice and after the spring game against [Palm Beach Gardens] Dwyer May 24,” he said.
Figueroa already has offers from Northern Illinois, Western Kentucky and Harvard.
It is unusual to see a BCS-caliber recruit with a Harvard offer this early in the recruiting process, but Figueroa’s playmaking prowess as a safety and stellar academics (3.5 unweighted GPA, 22 ACT score) make him an ideal Ivy League prospect.
“My parents, my teachers, after everyone found out Harvard had offered, I’ve been hearing a lot about the opportunities it will present,” Figueroa said. “If I were to go to Harvard, that would really be good for me and my family in the future.
"Education is definitely going to be high on my list. I want to get my degree because there is life after football. Harvard is definitely one of the top schools on my list and no matter who else offers, they’re going to remain on the top of my list.”
Figueroa totaled 97 tackles and eight interceptions during his junior year. Although he is likely a safety or nickel back at the next level, he also has the ability to play running back or wide receiver.
He is hoping that his offer list will continue to grow when spring practice begins next week. Figueroa said he thinks USF is close, but also added that Bowling Green, Duke and others will likely offer upon seeing him practice.
Then once spring is over, the ping-ponging will continue as he will hit the road again for team summer camps.
Brendan Sonnone is the Sentinel's recruiting correspondent and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Brendan on Twitter at @BSonnone or Facebook at Brendan Sonnone or at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times