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Rafferty moves on from USF

Posted Jan 14, 2013 by Joey Johnston

Updated Jan 14, 2013 at 08:44 PM

Robinson High School offensive lineman Connor Rafferty, who committed to the University of South Florida last summer, is exploring other options after being told late Sunday night that he no longer fit into USF’s plans.

Rafferty, a dual-enrollment student who has been earning college academic credits at Hillsborough Community College, is planning a trip to Eastern Kentucky University this weekend.

Rafferty, a 6-foot-3, 280-pounder who was named first-team All-Hillsborough County by the Tampa Tribune, committed to USF when Skip Holtz was the head coach. Holtz was fired on Dec. 2. During the news conference to announce the coaching change, USF athletic director Doug Woolard said all of Holtz’s scholarship commitments would be honored. Rafferty’s mother, Tracy, said the family had no reason to worry after Willie Taggart was hired by USF on Dec. 8.

“I understand coaches have to come in and put their stamp on the program,’’ Rafferty’s mother said. “If anything was wrong, it was that they came in and told us everything was OK. We had no reason to look around or open up the recruiting again. Connor wanted to go to USF. He had the offer. It was being honored. We had called off trips to four different camps last summer because we were done and happy. So that was that.’‘

Rafferty’s mother said USF assistant Walt Wells called Sunday night, around 10:30, saying it would be in Rafferty’s best interests to look around for another offer.

National Signing Day is Feb. 6. USF coaches are not allowed to comment on recruits until then.

“The whole thing has been a lesson learned,’’ Rafferty’s mother said. “Connor is going to be fine. We’re remaining positive. It has just been a shock.’‘

Rafferty’s Robinson teammate, two-way lineman Bruce Hector, also is a USF commitment.

“I just don’t think this is a good way to do business, particularly because USF said all scholarships would be honored,’’ said Mike DePue, who retired as Robinson’s coach after leading the Knights to the Class 5A state semifinals. “I know there was a coaching change and they’ve all got a job to do, but man, this sure leaves a sour taste.’‘

Rafferty said he didn’t want to speak with a reporter, but relayed a quick message through his mother:

“I’ve learned about the business side of recruiting. It’s definitely a business.’‘

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