"I liked everything about the program and thought it was a great fit for me," said Welch. "I called the USF coaches to let them know on Tuesday, but I actually knew on Sunday after my visit that was where I wanted to go."
Welch was committed to Arkansas, but made an unofficial visit to USF last Thursday and then returned for an official visit this weekend with his parents. He got to see the campus, the facilities, meet the players and get a feel for what life would be like at USF.
"I really liked what I saw on my visit, and so did my parents," said Welch. "I liked the people there, the culture and the whole staff. It was just everything. I liked everything there."
While on his visit Deonte was hosted by USF freshman receiver Sterling Griffin and got to hang out with the players and get a feel for the tightness and family atmosphere that surrounds the USF program.
"I didn't know Sterling, but had met him one time before. He was real nice to be around," said Welch. "All the players and coaches were real nice and cool to be around."
Deonte had never been to Tampa before, but liked everything he saw?
"No I hadn't been to Tampa before, but I was real impressed," said Welch. "The Campus was a lot bigger than I thought it was, and I liked their weight room and facilities. Everything was real nice and I liked the environment there."
Deonte has been very familiar with the USF program through former Bulls defensive lineman Aaron Harris, who is also from Williston and is akin to Deonte. Harris did well on the field and got his degree, something that was important to him.
"Actually Aaron is my blood cousin," said Welch. "He did well there and graduated. He also told me a lot about the program and always said that he liked it down there, and that I would like it to. He was right. He was real excited for me when I got the offer, and even more excited when I made the switch."
Welch said he always liked the Bulls and this was an offer he had hoped to get for a while.
"Yeah I was looking for an USF offer, but I always said if I had to go out of state I would but I really didn't want to," said Welch.
The Bulls didn't offer until late, and by that time he was already committed to Arkansas and even though he liked USF, he needed to check out the campus for himself.
"I've always liked USF, and ever since I started playing in high school, I wanted to stay in state," said Welch. "I just had to check out the campus and meet everybody to make sure. I felt real comfortable with all the players and coaches when I was down there, and that made everything a lot easier."
Deonte didn't make it in until Saturday with his parents and didn't get a chance to see Raymond James Stadium, but getting a chance to bond with the players was most important.
"No didn't get to see it. I actually had a basketball game, and had to be there because it was a big game so I came in Saturday morning. I know I'll get to see it soon though. Just going out with the players and meeting everyone there was my favorite part."
Welch didn't get to see the stadium, but did get to see the lockers, where they had a USF jersey waiting for him and his name on the locker.
"Yeah that was real cool," said Deonte. "I put it on and it felt good."
Deonte said that Coach Phil McGeoghan has been recruiting him and that he had a big influence on his decision.
"Coach McGeoghan has been talking to me for awhile and was always straight up with me. He made me feel real comfortable and wanted."
While on his visit he also got to meet Coach Skip Holtz for the first time and liked what he saw in the Bulls new head coach.
"I like him. I like his personality," said Deonte. "I think he'll be a great coach."
Welch's parents also liked what they saw in Tampa and are happy with his choice to play for USF and stay in the state.
"They like it a lot. They are just happy for me. They want to see me succeed," said Welch. "I'm happy so they could get to see me play and I could come home at the same time.
Welch is a versatile player who was named the Florida 1B-2A Offensive Player of the Year by the Gainesville Sun The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Welch ran for 1,324 yards on 228 carries and 16 touchdowns and also caught 18 passes for 216 yards and a touchdown. He also had a punt return for a touchdown, a kickoff return for a touchdown and intercepted four passes on defense.
"I did a little of everything, and whatever the team needed me to do," said Welch. "Running back, receiver, safety, you name it. I don't know all my stats, but I had over 1,300 yards rushing and I can't remember exactly how many, but I caught a lot of balls too. On defense I played cornerback and safety and had I had four interceptions but didn't play defense very often." Welch added "I scored twice, one punt return and one kick return, but I like to return kicks more than punts."
Deonte is fully qualified and is in the middle of his basketball season for Williston, but what makes him a good football player, and what should fans expect?
"I just give it my all on every single play," said Welch. "I'm just a hard worker, and try my best on every down, whether I'm getting the ball or not."
"I'm real excited with my decision, and can't wait to get down there."
Bonus Coaches take:
Williston Head Coach Jamie Baker, who was newly re-hired after the season, but coached Deonte for three years prior.
Did Deonte say what his reasons were for committing to USF?
"Obviously it is close to home. He has a cousin that just graduated from there who played for those guys in Aaron Harris. He did a good job for them and got his degree. All of that kind of tied together and helped him in making his decision."
What kind of player are the Bulls getting in Deonte?
"They are getting a guy that can make some things happen. He is just one of those types of players who does crazy stupid stuff on the field, sometimes where your mouth gapes open when you watch it. He has been a special talent ever since he was a ninth grader. He has been catching balls for us and has made numerous, not just once or twice, circus type catches. He has great concentration, great athletic ability and great hands. He's simply a playmaker."
Does he play multiple positions?
"He played everything that we needed him to play. He played running back and receiver, and also a lot of defense for me in the secondary and returned kicks and punts. He was great at all of it."
Did he play running back more out of a position of need?
"Yeah we needed a running back and that guy who could wreak havoc in there. We didn't have the whole package in order to throw the ball. We were a little light in the pants up front and the kid we had playing quarterback was a little more suited for the running game rather than the passing game so instead of wasting Deonte by trying to make things happen as much at receiver, I think Coach decided to put him in the running back spot so we could put it in his hands."
Talk about his character. What type of kid is he?
"Wonderful. He doesn't say much, and is kind of quiet. He has never been in trouble at school. He is just one of those kinds of kids. He has great grades and good family support. He's just a great kid to be around."