The Prospector: With Gators in hunt, FSU commit Ryan Sousa has difficult quandary

Lake Nona WR Ryan Sousa

Lake Nona wide receiver Ryan Sousa is committed to Florida State, but on Friday University of Florida coach Will Muschamp offered the record-breaking pass catcher an opporutnity to play for the Gators. (CHRIS HAYS/ORLANDO SENTINEL)

*Correction updated: The Florida Gators game against Georgia Southern will count towards UF's bowl eligibility since the NCAA allows one FCS result.


Things have gotten a little more complicated for Ryan Sousa.

The standout Orlando Lake Nona wide receiver, who will join an elite list of players Friday night when — not if — he catches career touchdown pass No. 50, is committed to play his college football at Florida State.

He should be a lock for the Seminoles. Right?

They’re in the national title hunt. They have Jameis Winston at quarterback. A Heisman-Trophy contending Jameis Winston.

Simple. Right?

Enter Joker Phillips … and this is no joke.

The Florida Gators and their affable receivers-coach-turned-social-media-recruiter-extraordinaire have thrown a wrench into the mix.

Phillips and UF head coach Will Muschamp, in the middle of a season possibly worse than any Ron Zook hater could have ever imagined — remember, Zook’s players won a national title two years after he got fired — got in touch with Lake Nona head coach Anthony Paradiso last week to let it be known they were coming after Mr. Super Slot … and  they are coming hard.

“It’s another offer on the table .. another place where I can go,” said Sousa, whom I caught up with during his lunch break Monday.

Sousa has a low-key approach to most everything. He’s not easily excitable and he’s also never over-the-top exuberant. His reaction to this UF vs. FSU situation is pretty much the same as anything else that crosses his path.

He knows he has a very tough decision to make as FSU parades its rose-covered float toward Pasadena and the BCS National Championship Game, and UF continues its paddle-less descent up the proverbial river with Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease feverishly bailing water.

But the two situations, as easy as it seems to discern one from the other, isn’t exactly how it appears to Sousa.

It’s a quandary for the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder who is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the Sentinel’s 2014 Central Florida Super60. Muschamp and Phillips made their pitch Friday and he’s had a lot to think about following the Lions clinching of a playoff berth, the first in the school’s seven-year existence.

“FSU’s doing really good right now and they have a great coaching staff and great players,” Sousa said, “but the NCAA is very complicated and you never know what’s going to happen. One day FSU is on top, one day they could be like 22nd . . .  you never know, so I don’t think that really triggers my mindset.

“But it does intrigue me because they are on their way to doing something special.”

Then there are the Gators. UF is struggling, but there are two ways a recruit can look at the situation.

One way is to dismiss UF from consideration wanting no part of what appears to be a situation that will only worsen before it gets better. The other way, however, is for a recruit to consider himself somewhat of a savior. There could be quick playing time in Gainesville and the new guys will be counted on to help right the ship.

“I feel like they do need playmakers and I feel like I can make a difference,” Sousa said. “That also intrigues me a little bit. There’s the national championship stuff at Florida State, or going somewhere where you can make a difference and be that kind of help.”

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