ESPN 300 wide receiver Richard Benjamin (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Bay Tech) admits he was down on South Florida for the longest time. When the 5-foot-11, 195-pound senior proudly announced his commitment to UCF it was seen as much as a slap in the face to the Tampa-based program as a commitment to their geographical (and soon to be Big East Conference) rival.
But Benjamin has since decommitted from the UCF program and will be in attendance Thursday night when the Bulls host Rutgers at Raymond James Stadium.
Why the change of heart? Benjamin admits he may have jumped the gun a little early.
"I think I eliminated USF a little early because there were a lot of outside influences speaking down on the program," Benjamin said. "However when you take a closer look at what's going on there it's a great place to play."
This past weekend, South Florida sophomore wide receiver Andre Davis set a school record with 12 receptions for 191 yards in a 32-31 road victory over Nevada. Benjamin said that Davis' performance got his attention, and he sees similarities between himself and the Davis, who played at Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson.
"I remember Andre was a big time recruit going into his senior year and some people fell off on him for whatever reason," Benjamin said. "But he decided he was going to stay local and show everyone what's up."
"At times I feel the same way. I was injured during the offseason and I struggled a bit so people starting saying bad things. Now I'm healthy again and I can't wait to show people that I'm better than what they think."
Benjamin said that several programs have reached out in the last few weeks like Purdue, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Kansas, Texas A&M and Florida. Although he is officially split from UCF he does have some regrets with how things went down.
"I wish it could have worked out but it wasn't in God's plans," Benjamin said. "It was tough because a lot of rumors get out there and people always think the worse. I will still have friends going to that school and I wish those guys well. I'm just going into another direction."
Benjamin just hopes to see a fun game Thursday. He hopes South Florida can repeat their offensive performance of a week ago. He can now see himself as a Bull in the future.
"I can definitely see myself playing in front of the hometown fans," Benjamin said. "I can't say whether it will happen or not but USF is on my radar."