TAMPA — The mystery that is Nelson Agholor finally came to a conclusion Wednesday afternoon.
In a ceremony at Tampa Berkeley Prep, the five-star prospect announced his commitment to USC over Florida, Oklahoma and Notre Dame.
Throughout his recruitment, Agholor had pretty much kept to himself, which only fed the hype surrounding the soft-spoken prep star.
He quietly told reporters “thank you” for coming, and he delicately cradled his four-month-old nephew before the ceremony. After his announcement, he hugged nearly every person in the gym full of family members and classmates, never letting the smile leave his face.
At the end of the day — Tuesday night, actually, according to Agholor — he decided the opportunity to catch passes from Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley was too good to pass up. He also said the receivers’ depth chart at USC is talented from top to bottom, another draw to Los Angeles.
“I’m going to be a part of a great receiving corps, and every day I’m going to battle,” he said. “They’re going to make statements. The best part about it is if I’m on the field with those guys, I’m on my way to making statements also.”
After he fielded questions from ESPNU on live TV, he signed his name on his letter of intent, and the decision was final. Agholor was seen exhaling in what he said was relief. Agholor said he enjoyed the pride and happiness he gave his parents through his recruitment. But now that the process is over, his mindset has totally transitioned forward to college, where he said he will continue to live out his dream.
“[Last night], when I spoke to my head coach, Dominick Ciao, I just kept on thinking about the things he’s told us through football,” Agholor said. “Before games, he has a speech … and he always said after, ‘Dreams come true.’ And I’ve always had a dream to be a Trojan, no matter what, throughout everything.”
Given Agholor’s self-enforced low profile, it seems appropriate he chose to play football at a smaller high school, where he made plays that garnered national attention. He is the type of playmaker Florida hasn’t had in a long time, so the loss was a big one for a recruiting class low on offensive talent, a major need coach Will Muschamp said would be addressed in 2013.
Florida had been considered a longtime favorite with its in-state appeal and many of Agholor’s friends among the 2012 recruiting class. But once former offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left, Agholor’s favor for the Gators seemed to wane.
“I think [No. 2] would have been Florida,” Agholor said. “I love coach Muschamp.… We share very similar morals outside of football. He’s a great guy and I hope his team buys into everything that he says because they will be successful one day.”
Florida did, however, sign another wide receiver this week. Raphael Andrades, a relatively unknown three-star prospect out of Tallahassee, signed his letter of intent Wednesday.
Andrades and early enrollee Latroy Pittman are Florida’s only receivers in the 2012 class, joining tight ends Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor, running back Matt Jones, offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker, and quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg on the offensive end. By contrast, Florida claimed 14 defensive commits.