Land O'Lakes quarterback leads in-state haul

Joe Weatherford will have the chance to lead UCF into a new era.

Published February 8, 2007

LAND O'LAKES - Joe Weatherford will have the chance to lead UCF into a new era.

And in return, you can bet Golden Knights coach George O'Leary hopes the Land O'Lakes quarterback becomes an ambassador for future bay area recruits.

Weatherford was the lone bay area recruit to sign with UCF on Wednesday.

That hardly mattered when the final fax came ripping through O'Leary's machine just after 10 a.m. The Golden Knights basked in what O'Leary called one of his best classes at UCF.

"When you are looking at your recruiting class, you look at the home state and how well you did in-state," he said. "Probably in the three years I've been here, this has been one of the best years as far as talent and bringing in the right people for the program."

UCF got 29 signatures, mostly in-state.

The crown jewel was Homestead receiver Alphonso Bryant, considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com. Bryant, who will play defensive back, was a Class 6A first-team all-state pick with 674 receiving yards and six touchdowns. He also had 54 tackles and two interceptions.

Weatherford, 6 feet 4, 200 pounds, was one of three quarterbacks who signed, joining Michael Greco of Pearl River Miss. Community College and Nate Tice of Enid, Minn., son of former Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Tice.

Weatherford, brother of FSU quarterback Drew, was a Class 5A second-team all-state selection after throwing for 2,141 yards and 20 touchdowns.

"Joe Weatherford was a guy we had our eye on from the get-go," O'Leary said. "For every (touted) quarterback, there are usually 12 on the board.

"He was always one that was up there as far as throwing accuracy and arm strength, so we are happy to get him."

Weatherford considered about 30 schools before selecting UCF. He said he was impressed with the new on-campus stadium, which is scheduled to open in September, against Texas, and he praised the coaching staff.

"Coach O'Leary has great people behind him," he said. "I just wanted to be a part of it. They keep growing every year. I think UCF's going to be real good soon."

Izzy Gould can be reached at igould@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4619.