Oak Ridge athlete Guito Ervilus nearly committed to USF last week when Bulls’ coaches were in Orlando for a visit with the 6-foot-5, 230-pound athlete. He waited, however, and on the final day of his official visit to the Tampa school this past weekend, Ervilus finally caved and committed to the Bulls on Sunday.
Ervilus, whose commitment closed the door on a trying year for the versatile Oak Ridge star, picked USF, in the end, over UCF and FIU, but there were far more possibilities that weighed on his mind after the season ended.
He had missed most of his senior season while rehabbing from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) he suffered early in spring practice. He played just four games, but most of the 30-plus schools that offered him were still awaiting his decision.
Ervilus, who will play defensive end at USF, was unavailable Sunday night, but Oak Ridge head coach Elijah Williams has been along for the ride and he’s a proud coach right now. He has three players heading to play NCAA Division I-A college football – DB Andre Scott and LB Deyonte Henderson will sign with Marshall – and still another in WR Rayshawn Jackson could eventually latch on with Memphis, if his visit goes well this coming weekend, Jan 27.
“They are all qualified and that is the most important thing to us right now … to get these kids in college,” said Williams, who just finished his third season at Oak Ridge. “We may end up with seven or eight kids in college overall and that’s just huge for this school. It was my goal when I came in here.
“It’s not all about winning the game, but getting kids in school and getting them on the right track.”
It was not a problem keeping Ervilus on the right track, but there were some derailments. Williams, a former Florida Gator, could draw on his own recruiting experiences out of Milton High in 1993, and to help provide insight for Ervilus, who faced some disappointments in finding the right school.
“It was more between USF, North Carolina and Kentucky at one time … UCF and FIU came in late,” Williams said Sunday night. “At first he wanted to leave Florida. He had pretty much told all the Florida schools, ‘Nah, I’m not staying in Florida.’ ”
As things do in the world of college football recruiting, however, the situations changed. Ervilus was a heavy lean to North Carolina, but when Butch Davis was fired, and then the entire Davis staff was let go following the hiring of Larry Fedora from Southern Miss, Ervilus was left back at square one during the first week of January, less than a month away from National Signing Day (Feb. 1).
“He got thrown a monkey wrench when they got rid of the whole staff,” Williams said. “When he talked to the new coach there didn’t seem to be that same vibe he was getting before and he decided he wanted to explore some other schools.
“It was hard to figure out what he wanted to do. Guito don’t say much, but I think he wanted to stay close to mom.”
So he was down to USF, Miami and still considering Kentucky, where he had visited in November.
“He wasn’t going down to Miami,” Williams said. “Mom wasn’t having any of that one.”
No matter, he didn’t even have a Miami offer.
Williams said UCF then came into the picture recently and he was thinking hard about the Orlando school.
“But he really liked USF,” Williams said. “It basically came down to being between UCF and USF.”
Who said there isn’t a rivalry between those two schools? It’s there, and this recruiting battle just throws another log on the fire of an intra-state battle that will be renewed and continuously fueled with the Knights joining the Big East Conference.
And as for Ervilus’ knee damage?
“I think he’s better, mentally. Physically he was ready to go months ago,” Williams said, “but mentally, he wasn’t quite there at first. In that first game back, though, when a guy came in and hit him right on that knee and he figured out that he could get up and nothing was wrong, he knew everything would be fine.
“He’s playing basketball now and he’s ready to go.”
He’s a key component on the Pioneers' hoops squad, which looks to go deep into the Class 7A playoffs. Oak Ridge is 11-7 with District play coming up the same week as signing day.
Ervilus is the third Orlando-area commitment to the Bulls this season. USF also has Olympia DT James ‘J.T.’ Hamilton and Winter Park WR Dvario Montgomery on board. All three of those players are ranked in the top 14 of the Sentinel’s 2012 Central Florida Super60 prospects rankings.
The Bulls have done well in Central Florida recently. USF has 10 Central Florida products on the roster.
They are junior-to-be safety Mark Joyce from DeLand, Hamilton’s cousin sophomore LB Corian Hamilton from Olympia, sophomore OT Darrell Williams from Orlando Evans, junior DB Patrice Pierre of Kissimmee Liberty, redshirt-freshman OT Max Lang from Orlando Boone, redshirt-junior CB Brandon Salinas from Oak Ridge, redshirt-junior DT Demi Thompson of Lake Mary, junior QB Baylin Trujillo, another Oak Ridge product, and redshirt-senior punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann from Winter Springs.