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July 3, 2012

Dinovo jumps on UCF offer

UCF was the school Pete Dinovo was waiting for.

Less than 48 hours after receiving an offer from the Knights, the Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake quarterback called the coaches on Tuesday morning to pledge his verbal commitment.

It capped off an "amazing" few days for Dinovo, who on Sunday led Team Tampa to the title at the IMG 7-on-7 National Championship while earning offensive MVP honors.

The performance might have sped up the process, but Dinovo had already been in line for an offer from UCF.

"We were talking a lot," Dinovo said. "I was staying in contact with Coach Kirk Callahan and Coach Charlie Taaffe. Basically, they really liked me but it was a numbers game. They only had a certain number of scholarships to give out. They weren't originally planning on taking another quarterback, but I went out and threw for Coach Taaffe a few weeks back. He told me then they were going to offer me, so I was waiting for a phone call."

Dinovo said he'd never forget the moment when the offer finally came.

"(On Sunday night) Coach Callahan messaged me on Facebook and asked me to give him a call," Dinovo said. "He gave me Coach George O'Leary's number and said to call him. When I did, Coach O'Leary said, 'Take out your right hand and shake it because I'm offering you a scholarship to be a Knight.' I got goosebumps up and down my back. I was really excited."

USF offered on Monday morning, but Dinovo said his mind was mostly made up.

"It made me think a little bit, but I was pretty sure (about UCF)," Dinovo said. "I sat down with my mom and dad and people close to me. We knew this was the best decision for me."

UCF had everything he was looking for.

"It's the most beautiful place," Dinovo said. "It's amazing there. Beautiful. I'm going to major in sports management and they have an amazing program there. Just the place itself, I fell in love with it.

"From a football standpoint, I've built a great relationship with Coach Taaffe. He's a great offensive mind. I sat down and talked with him and the things he knows is unreal. I think I'm going to learn so much from him. Also, Coach O'Leary. He's a very strict coach and he expects a lot, but he's exactly the kind of coach I want to work for. I want to play for somebody that's going to expect a lot from me to be the best I can be. That's exactly the kind of coach he is."

Dinovo becomes the 10th commitment in UCF's inaugural Big East recruiting class. He said he liked UCF anyway, but the conference move is an added bonus.

"Big East football, it doesn't get much better than that," Dinovo said. "You're competing for a championship so what more can you ask for? That's big-time football."

UCF is heavily recruiting several of his Team Tampa teammates, including the wide receiver duo of Richard Benjamin and Alvin Bailey. Benjamin is scheduled to announce his decision on July 9 from a final three that includes UCF, USF and Vanderbilt.

"In the next couple weeks we're going to see a lot of players wanting to be a part of this program," Dinovo said. "We're all on the same page. We've all known each other for a long time. We have common goals. Even coming from different schools, we had common goals with Team Tampa in wanting to win a championship and we did that. That shows what we bring to the table. These are the same kids who want to go to UCF. We want to be together. With that coaching staff, I think the sky's the limit."

Dinovo said to expect him at UCF "all the time" this upcoming season as he's planning to attend as many home games as possible. He's planning to enroll next January.

"I'm super excited," he said. "Now I can concentrate on my senior year and going out there and winning this state championship. That's the main goal and what we're trying to do."





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