Hello: Kevin Sousa

Submitted by Tim on June 29th, 2010 at 5:33 PM

FL QB Kevin Sousa has become Michigan's quarterback for the 2011 class. His last name is pronounced like the home run-hitting Sammy Sosa, not "The Victors is the greatest college fight song ever written"-sayin' composer John Phillip Sousa.

INFORMATIVE PORTION

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GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #31 QB 3*, #21 Dual QB 3*, 78, #22 QB

In addition to the above national rankings, the Orlando Sentinel calls him the #14 overall prospect in Central Florida. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's talk about his build. Heights on the three recruiting sites range from 6-2 to 6-4, and weights from 207 all the way up to 235. I would guess right in the middle on height, at a solid 6-3. The weights were actually skewed slightly towards the lower end, so I think 215-220 is probably about right. With a college weight training program, he should reach prototypical measureables.

Keep in mind when reading the descriptions of his game, that the majority of them basically say: "He is a prospect with tons of potential as a QB, but he is really raw." That is understandable, as Sousa didn't start playing football until his sophomore year of high school:

"He's an unbelievable, gifted talent and he just needed someone to pull it out of him. I tell everybody he's just getting his feet wet," says [Lake Nona assistant coach Anthony] Paradiso. "I found him roaming the halls (at Cypress Creek) when I first met him and he was just a soccer player.

"He never played football. I got him to buy into something, buy into the fact that he could be great."

In the age where kids are trained from the womb to be roboQBs, Sousa was a soccer player up until the past two years. This means upside galore. Now, on to the evaluations. First, from his ESPN profile:

He can make all the throws due to strength and when his feet are set he flashes a powerful downfield arm... Has very good feet and pocket awareness to buy second chances and is an accomplished scrambler that is adept at making things happen when the play breaks down. He has strength and elusiveness as a runner and can not only make people miss, but can also lower his shoulder and initiate contact in the open field to fight for extra yards.

And now, the negatives:

He is also very mechanical and not always a smooth passer with consistent fundamental delivery mechanics... Feet are not always in concert with his arm and as a result he will throw off balance and can miss the strikezone at times... Must learn to change ball speeds and touch depending on the throw and consistently lead receivers within a reasonable catch radius.

So, there's quite a bit to work on. The upshot:

There is no doubt that Sousa can remain at QB [though he could also play tight end or another position], but he will need to focus on the passing game, footwork, patience and settling in to being a passer that is a great athlete and not an athlete playing QB. Drill work, coaching and scheme familiarity will enhance his chances.

As expected: lots of potential, but raw. Coach Paradiso thinks that, as the rawness goes away with experience, Kevin could be something special:

"This is the best high school quarterback I have ever seen," Paradiso says, "and I've seen a bunch. I saw John Brantley (next year's UF starter) when he was at Ocala Trinity and Kevin has a much stronger arm. Now John was a lot more accurate, but that'll come."

On top of improving his accuracy, Kevin is (understandably) novice at reading coverages, something else that will come with more experience and coaching. At an Under Armour combine in Jacksonville, he told ESPN's Craig Haubert that accuracy is the biggest thing he's working on. He has plenty of time to polish that release, as football and weightlifting are the only high school sports he participates in. The Orlando Sentinel talks about how he performed at that event:

He did 20 reps on the bench press, almost unheard of for a quarterback, and his 4.8 laser time in the 40-yard dash was equally impressive considering Sousa's size -- 6-4, 220 -- and the fact that he had stretched his hamstring a bit during the run.

"Big Sousa, man .. I tell ya. He looked like a big stud out there," Waseem said.

The weightlifting thing is doing him right, it appears. He's been hitting up seemingly every combine in the nation, so here's a later performance, as told by Tom Luginbill:

Once again, Kevin Sousa (Lake Nona, Fla./Lake Nona) shows up to an Elite 11 regional camp and each time he gets better. In fact, this was by far his best outing and he is starting to really iron out some kinks in his delivery and become more smooth and fluid as a passer. Athletically he is ultra impressive, but there were times on Friday when he got his feet, timing and delivery to sync up and for that moment, was the best guy in the camp. He can do some things that are very impressive and with a redshirt year, some program is going to get a nice little gem.

This is about as ringing an endorsement you can get for an under-the-radar prospect. With college coaching, he'll develop some consistency, and hopefully get "feet timing, and delivery to sync up" all the time. Luginbill's colleague Billy Tucker echoes the sentiment, though giving special attention to arm strength and Kevin's ability to spin the ball.

He displays an excellent work ethic, according to Coach Paradiso, and has lofty goals for the near future:

"I plan on winning the Golden Gun for Elite 11 (accuracy) and being the top QB at Nike camp (Gainesville) and the Under Armour in Atlanta, as well," he said.

If he can continue to improve day-to-day as he has been, that just may happen. In that case, Michigan will have a serious, serious sleeper prospect in the fold - though he might not be a sleeper anymore by that time.

Sousa is also a good student, amassing a 3.5 GPA as a junior. He's interested in studying mechanical engineering, so he's made a good choice in the academic department as well.

OFFERS

Despite his production early in his football career, and the fact that he drew raves seemingly every time he set foot in a camp, offers were slow in coming for Kevin. By the time he committed to the Wolverines, he had offers from the likes of FIU, Middle Tennessee, and UCF in the lesser conferences, and BCS-level tenders from Illinois, Louisville, South Florida, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and West Virginia. He also held a verbal offer from Miami (YTM). Colorado State was his most recent (non-Michigan) offer.

Sousa had been waiting for the Michigan offer for quite some time, so when it came, he immediately booked a flight to Ann Arbor, and made the commitment. He has been picking up momentum over the summer as he's impressed on the camp circuit. If he weren't an early commit, there's a good chance he could have ended up with several other solid offers.

STATS

Per his Scout profile:

Dual threat QB who threw for 1,346 yards and eight TDs, he ran another 916 yards [and 5 TDs -t]. Honorable Mention All State for 3A classification. Second Team All Central Florida by Orlando Sentinel.

kevinsousa-orlsentinel.jpg

That was but Sousa's second year ever playing football. The program being in its first year also means it's unlikely he had very much help. As both Lake Nona and Sousa himself get more football experience and coaching, he could explode in his senior year. In his first year, according to the Orlando Sentinel, he racked up some gaudy numbers in only seven games:

He certainly looked the part last year for first-year program Lake Nona. Sousa passed for 1,290 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for another 859 yards and five scores in the first seven games, but injured his knee in the eighth game and was done for the season. Not too shabby for seven games.

He did that at Cypress Creek High School before Lake Nona opened.

FAKE 40 TIME

Rivals pegs him for a 4.69-second 40 time. As noted above, the floor here is a combine-verified 4.8-second (laser-timed) 40. MGoUser Swenet1111 reports that his 40 times have been reported as 4.48, 4.56, 4.69, and 4.9, outside of that combine time.

As a dual-threat quarterback, those aren't unrealistic, and with a combine-verified time, it's hard to dole out the FAKEness. I give him one FAKE out of five. I fully expect to hear about him running 4.2-second laser-timed 40s sometime soon.

VIDEO

You can see how he performed in Lake Nona's spring game (which was reportedly impressive enough to solidify the offer), but a more comprehensive look comes from his junior highlights. Part 1:

...and Part 2:

Those interested can see how he's improved since his sophomore year.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Sousa has exceptional physical tools, but has yet to become a true quarterback. This is unsurprising for a kids who exclusively played soccer just a couple years ago (by the way, condolences on his mother's national side, Ivory Coast, being eliminated in group play at the World Cup). Fortunately for Kevin, he's stepped into what seems to be the perfect situation. Michigan has a pair of QBs that are two years ahead of him, and Devin Gardner one year up. That means he is a near-holy lock to redshirt and work on his skills for a year before he'll even sniff the field.

Assuming Gardner stays four years (which is likely at this point), Sousa will be behind all three quarterbacks as a redshirt freshman, then things get a little fuzzy. Does Denard switch positions, or get used only as a part-time QB if he's not the #1 guy? Does Tate keep up the family tradition of transferring if he doesn't win the job? Either way, Sousa's redshirt, at the very least puts him two years behind Gardner (assuming no redshirt for Devin this fall), meaning he could have mopup/backup duty as a redshirt sophomore, and come into his own as a redshirt junior.

With his physical tools and potential, as long as Sousa gets good coaching (we already know he has great work ethic), the sky is the limit. In his senior season, there's the chance he could compete for national awards and All-American status.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan has their quarterback for the 2011 class. That means they're looking for very few skill players at this point. One running back (hopefully Demetrius Hart), one more outside wideout (likely AJ Jordan, or the Wolverines could hold out for Sammy Watkins, since a second wideout isn't a necessity), and a tight end (Ray Hamilton?) are still on the menu.

Once Michigan gets those skill players locked down, offensive line and defense become the highest priorities. 3-4 OL in addition to Jack Miller, along with an emphasis on linebackers should fill out the remainder of the class.

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