- Jared Shanker, ESPN Staff Writer
New York is a basketball city, but in the small borough of Staten Island, football is on the rise. In the 2013 class, that is due in large part to a handful of talented prospects, including dynamic receiver Malique Belfort (Staten Island, N.Y./Tottenville).
Through eight games, Belfort has 45 catches for 830 yards and nine touchdowns while rarely playing all four quarters. Major BCS programs have taken notice, and he holds offers from 14 schools with Arizona State, Michigan State and Penn State among them.
A handful of programs continue to show interest, including Florida State, which recently offered his teammate Augustus Edwards, a running back committed to Syracuse.
“I just got off the phone with Coach [James] Coley from Florida State a couple of hours ago,” Belfort said.
Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are all showing interest, and along with Florida State and Tennessee, which has offered, that makes up Belfort’s top five, in no order.
During the summer, Belfort named the Mountaineers his leader, but as signing day nears and Belfort remains waiting for West Virginia to offer, they are losing grip on the top spot.
“They have Tavon [Austin] and Stedman [Bailey] and they have [J.D.] Woods behind them. In my class they only have one kid, Daikiel Shorts, but he could play safety,” Belfort said. “Looking at quarterback, Geno [Smith] is going to leaving and I don’t know the quarterback there.”
While the Mountaineers drop, Oklahoma State, which just beat West Virginia on Saturday ironically enough, rises.
“Coach [Todd] Monken and Oklahoma State, I like them as a whole. They’re playing in a big-time conference, always have good quarterbacks -- Brandon Weeden and Zach Robinson -- they always have downfield threats like Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon and always have a knack for throwing the ball,” Belfort said.
Although the Cowboys have three wide receivers committed -- and they are the three highest-rated commits in their class -- Belfort believes he would bring a unique skill set to Stillwater.
“They have a couple guys committed but now down the field threats,” he said. “So I feel I can be like that.”
Belfort is expecting to hear from Oregon receivers coach Scott Frost soon, so they could move into his top group and secure an official visit. As of now, Belfort is planning to take an official visit to Tennessee in December and has Florida State, Ole Miss and West Virginia in line to earn one possibly.