17-year-olds put pen to paper

Drama is what makes sports a passion for the people who play it or the ones watching from the stands. Will the quarterback fire the game-winning touchdown or get sacked? It’s that element of the unknown that fuels the intensity for sports. Yet, none of that can compare with a simple stroke of the pen.

National Letter of Intent day doesn’t exactly hold the drama of an Adam Vinatieri Super Bowl-clinching kick, but the fate of USF’s future football success will be directly tied to the players who announce they’re coming to play for the Bulls today.

The day still holds many surprises, especially for USF. Out of ESPN.com expert Tom Lemming’s Top 100, 20 prospects have yet to publicly declare a school. And even those players are fair game until their faxed letters of intent reach the schools.

There have been cases where players signed two letters of intent to two different schools, with the winner being whoever got theirs first.

The apple of USF’s eye is quarterback Cornelius Ingram of Hawthorne. Ranked No. 78 in the country by Lemming, who also publishes The Prep Football Report, Ingram comprises a dual-sport package by being one of the nation’s top basketball players as well.

The Bulls are in the running with Florida State, which already has snatched the state’s other top two quarterbacks, and Florida. Ingram told the St. Petersburg Times that he’s already made his decision, but — surprise — he’s not saying until today.

Of course, therein lies the drama of Signing Day: all of the talk until now has been just that.

According to published reports, the Bulls have 22 verbal commitments, which means nothing. They could all choose to go somewhere else if another school offered them a scholarship. That probably won’t happen, but the Bulls are still courting a few players, including some who’ve already said they’re coming.

Linebacker Brouce Mompremier indicated the Bulls were his choice more than a month ago, but then came the news he’d switched his choice to Kansas. Mompremier, rated No. 22 in the state by the Miami Herald, has been silent since.

On the other hand, the Bulls got dragged through a public falling out with quarterback Brent Schaeffer. The Deerfield Beach star writes a weekly journal of his recruiting visits for the Sun-Sentinel, detailing each of his five visits. The Bulls made his list, but eventually got weeded out as the No. 16 quarterback in the nation, according to Lemming’s rankings, dwindled his choices to Tennessee, North Carolina State and Auburn.

“When most people look at the list of schools I’m visiting and see South Florida, they might think it’s a typo,” Schaeffer wrote. “I have been told South Florida shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same sentence with schools such as Tennessee, Auburn, Kansas State and N.C. State.”

Although USF’s out of the running for Schaeffer, two super-sized wide receivers are looming large. Six-foot-5 Johnny Peyton out of Pasco High School and Countryside’s Jermaine Filer, a 6-foot-4 burner, appear to be favoring other schools, but in the final hours of recruiting, it’s never say never.

Filer has doesn’t have a necessary test, according to the Times, but Marshall and Kansas State still want him, too.

Peyton verbally committed to Pittsburgh months ago, but with highly touted quarterback Anthony Morelli possibly ready to renege on the Panthers, Peyton said he may follow suit.

Can you feel the drama?