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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
NEW PORT RICHEY - Alton Voss signed with USF on Wednesday with an assist from MTV.
It was while watching Cribs on the channel years ago, according to his godfather, Robin Burge, that Voss first realized he wanted a big house with fancy cars in the driveway, a playroom with pool tables and, heck, maybe even a gold-plated ceiling.
"He was 10 or 11, and he turned to me and said, 'How can I have those nice things,' " Burge said. "I thought, 'Wow, what a loaded question.'
"I said, 'Alton, there's really only two ways to do it. What you have to get is a college education, but that's expensive. But colleges will give you a free education if you're good enough in football or baseball. They call it a scholarship.' "
That was all Voss needed to hear. The Gulf quarterback went on to an excellent high school career that attracted several scholarship offers, the best of which came from the Bulls.
Though he orally committed months ago, the signing in a conference room at Gulf ended a long, nerve-wracking process.
"I could barely get any sleep Tuesday night," he said. "I went to bed around 3 a.m. I had this weird, jitter feeling inside. I'm just glad it's over."
Voss was involved in a highly publicized "competition" for an Alabama scholarship offer that went to Plant's Robert Marve, suffered a knee injury in the season opener, watched Matt Grothe emerge as the Bulls starter at quarterback and even as late as two weeks ago was being courted as a strong safety or linebacker by other schools, including Florida.
When Gator junior All-America safety Reggie Nelson announced last month he was entering the draft, Voss even flirted with going to Gainesville.
"I thought about it for maybe a day," he said.
Ultimately, though, his desire to be a quarterback overrode any other offers, and last weekend's visit to USF convinced him.
"It felt comfortable," said Voss, who is 6 feet 2, 220 pounds, strong-armed and runs a 4.5 40.
"They said they were only signing me (at quarterback), and there's only going to be three quarterbacks in the summer. And I don't think you can get any better than that. I think that's what locked me into going to USF."
As a junior, Voss rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards and last season overcame a torn meniscus in the season opener to guide the Bucs to a 6-4 record and their first playoff berth in 70 years of existence.
As Voss downed a piece of celebratory cake after signing his papers, Burge smiled at him from across the room.