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Do SPC stars have surprise for 'Net?'

Many Web sites say Chris Davis and Mike Ross are headed for FSU and USC. But are they?

By JOHN C. COTEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 6, 2002


Finally, the day of decision has arrived for St. Petersburg Catholic's Chris Davis and Mike Ross. And if most of the recruiting Web sites are correct, today's signing at the high school is just a formality.

Davis, according to espn.com, collegefootballnews.com, fansonly.com and rivals.com, has committed to Florida State. Ross, according to rivals.com, is headed for Southern Cal.

Which makes today's signing anticlimactic, right?

Well, maybe not.

Ross left the door open late Tuesday, saying a surprise could be in store.

"Don't believe everything you read on the Internet," the all-state linebacker said. "Sometimes, a kid says something, and it gets around and gets misused."

Ross and Davis, who are best friends, have said from the start they want to play together, and Ross strongly hinted the players would do just that.

If there is a surprise today, that will be it. And it would be a whopper.

It also would explain why Ross and Davis have been so steadfast in their silence, going as far as not revealing their visits until afterward or until pressed by the media.

Ross said that the situation with committing early was "complicated" and that he had promised Davis he wouldn't say anything until they could do it together.

Ross said he has gone as far as to call USC coaches to refute an online report saying he had committed to them. If the duo are planning a major swerve and the recruiting services are wrong, as some were by saying top safety Pat Watkins of Tallahassee had committed to Miami when he hadn't (not an uncommon occurrence), then South Florida and Boston College could be in the mix.

Considering that Davis, a Parade All-American and the Times All-Suncoast Player of the Year, has been recruited by just about everyone and Ross' list is almost as impressive, the Bulls and Eagles were considered longshots.

But those are the only schools both players officially visited and the only two offering Davis a chance to play quarterback.

And though not as illustrious as FSU and USC, both promise a better opportunity for early playing time and a chance to star. It's all part of the recruiting dance -- rumors, players changing their minds, fitting the right players into the right team puzzle -- and it will culminate today for most when the letters-of-intent officially bind players to their choice. One player who is done dancing is Chamberlain's Brodrick Bunkley, who said he is signing with FSU today. The all-state linebacker has strongly hinted he would sign with FSU but wanted to leave his options open.

Even after a call from Florida on Monday night telling him FSU defensive coach Jim Gladden was planning to resign after signing day, Bunkley remained firm. "Coach Gladden called me right after that and said it wasn't true," Bunkley said.

Bunkley will play defensive end and is expected to grow into a defensive tackle within two seasons. Teammate Ollie Hoyte said he had fielded two calls from Maryland and one from North Carolina State on Tuesday night but was undecided.

Other area players expected to sign include Seminole linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (Maryland), Countryside kicker Jon Peattie (Miami), Plant receiver Mike Williams (USC) and Robinson running back Kwane Doster (Vanderbilt).

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