For many youths in South Florida, football is a rite of passage. South Carolina freshman linebacker Rosendo Louis was no different.
Louis was 5 years old when his sister, Latisha, helped pique his interest in the game.
“She played tackle football and she used to run me over in the hallway, so that’s what got me really started,” Rosendo told reporters, before the Under Armour All-America Game.
Latisha must be one tough gal. She’s about five years older Rosendo and, at the time of the interview, was enrolled at the police academy in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Her positions were running back and linebacker, but she eventually moved on to basketball and track. With a laugh, Rosendo assured the gathering of media that’s it’s been a while since she’s been able to truck him.
“I’m too big for her now,” he said.
At 6-foot-1, 238 pounds, he has a chance to earn immediate playing time for South Carolina. The former 4-star linebacker recruit from Deerfield Beach (Fla.) High School is among the midyear freshmen set to participate in spring practice, which begins Feb. 28.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp believes Louis could play any of the four linebacker spots in the Gamecocks defense. Before Louis arrived to Columbia, he was under the impression that he’d work in the middle on first and second down, then line up on the edge to rush the passer on third down.
Those details eventually will play out in the coming weeks and months as Louis integrates himself into the Gamecocks defense.
At this point, one thing is certain.
“My favorite thing about football is hitting,” Louis said. “That’s what I love to do.”
He added, “I played running back when I was little, but linebacker is — I love to hit. I don’t like anybody hitting me. I like to do the hitting.”
The flip from Florida State
Louis committed to Florida State in August, before his senior season. Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma and South Carolina were among the schools under consideration before he committed to Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles.
As it became clear that he was firm with that decision, contact with the Gamecocks eventually fell off. Had Fisher never left for Texas A&M, Louis would be with him right now in Tallahassee.
Instead, Louis signed with South Carolina on Dec. 20. Auburn, Arkansas and Kentucky tried to get back into the picture late in the process, but his final decision came down to South Carolina and Florida State.
When asked about the flip, Louis said, “It was very difficult. … You’re loyal to one school and then you have to flip.”
Fortunately for him, he felt comfortable in South Carolina, where he first visited as a sophomore.
“I loved it from the jump, the area,” Louis said. “Everybody was welcoming you. It was never like that before.”
Plus, “growing up, I always wanted to play SEC,” Louis said.
“That’s what I always talked about, so that kind of played a role too, after knowing that Jimbo [left].”