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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Football

From Harlem to Houston, QB recruit Massoud is ready for Texas college football


Three-star quarterback Sofian Massoud gained notoriety as a recruit in New York, but his move to Texas and Cy Lakes made him a prime target for Houston. | Courtesy of CFISD Communication

Three-star quarterback Sofian Massoud gained notoriety as a recruit in New York, but his move to Texas and Cy Lakes made him a prime target for Houston. | Courtesy of CFISD Communication

New York-raised quarterbacks rarely find themselves playing college football in Texas. 

A state where football is comparable to religion, universities can find their next talented shot-caller from El Paso to Galveston with little need to leave Texas’ state lines.  

Houston is bucking the trend.

Their 2020 quarterback commit, Sofian Massoud, gained notoriety as a highly-touted recruit in Harlem. He played near Yankee Stadium, for Cardinal Hayes High School.

While receiving his fair share of attention, he committed as a junior to Rutgers over Virginia, Boston College and Temple.

Then, Massoud moved to Texas early in the summer of 2019 — that’s when everything changed. No longer did he feel like playing on the East Coast.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound quarterback went from a basketball city to a football state, playing at Cypress Lakes. In doing so, he flipped his commitment from Rutgers to Houston. The location change was monumental.

“Football, in general, in New York is a lot different,” Massoud said. “From the aspect of the resources, they are not as plentiful in New York as they are (in Texas)… there is a lot of things that you have to do just to do the basic things necessary to play the game.”

In his lone season at Cy Lakes, Massoud amassed over 3,500 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns (19 rushing) while falling just short of the playoffs in a loaded 14-6A District. 

It didn’t take long for him to realize he wanted to continue his playing career in the state where football is larger than life.

“The culture is so different down here (in Texas) from New York,” he said. “I think I grew as a leader here.”

Massoud realized he could have a home in Texas. He had the attention of the Cougars’ coaching staff when he landed in Katy. The interest was mutual ⁠— not just because both of his parents attended UH.

“I’ve been following coach (Dana) Holgorsen way before he was at UH,” he said. “So, when I saw that he went there, it was a no-brainer for me.”

Holgorsen utilizes a quarterback-friendly offense. His coaching origins took place under Hal Mumme and Mike Leach ⁠— the founding fathers of the Air Raid offense ⁠— at Valdosta State.

Massoud thinks he fits well in his attack that features quick-wit-dependent concepts such as mesh, y-stick, shallow cross and RPOs. 

“I think I fit pretty well into an Air Raid offense,” the three-star recruit said. “I think the biggest part of Air Raid offense, when it comes to the quarterback position, is just problem-solving and getting the teammates into the right play and making the right checks and knowing where to go with the ball.

“I’ve been focused on that as a player for the last couple of years.”

Massoud, who amassed over 3,500 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns in his lone season at Cy Lakes, said he would fit "pretty well" into head coach Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid offense. | Courtesy of CFISD Communication

Massoud, who amassed over 3,500 all-purpose yards and 42 total touchdowns in his lone season at Cy Lakes, said he would fit “pretty well” into head coach Dana Holgorsen’s Air Raid offense. | Courtesy of CFISD Communication

Though now in Texas, New York trained Massoud well. “I can definitely make every single throw,” said the soon-to-be college freshman.

He also learned by himself, no matter his residency.

Massoud ⁠— a self-proclaimed film room junkie ⁠— takes an interest in learning how to read defenses through first-hand experience, YouTube videos, observing coaching clinics and even video games. 

When he wants to take a rest from the rigors of throwing or the attendance of the film room, he boots-up one of EA Sports’ “NCAA Football” or “Madden NFL.”

“It’s really virtual reality,” said Massoud on learning through video games outside of film and practice. “You’re getting mental reps.”

Massoud is ready to play football for the Cougars. He will be an early enrollee; his UH career will start in Spring 2020.

“I’m coming in as the youngest guy,” Massoud said. “But I got to be the general of the team. I’m trying to learn a lot and continue to be a leader. Now it’s a different challenge. Now I have to address guys in an older age group. But, I still need to be a leader and a vocal guy, even if I’m the youngest guy.”

Those older players in the locker room may have to get used to a new pre-game tradition. Massoud enjoys listening to football broadcast calls to get him ready to play. “Hearing the announcers and picturing yourself doing it, I think it’s good for your mental state,” he said.

The recruit may not play in 2020. Senior D’Eriq King, sophomore Clayton Tune and freshman Logan Holgorsen are all quarterbacks slated to return.

For Massoud, that’s not a bad thing.

“Those guys, especially D’Eriq King, have a lot of experience playing in big games and playing college football. So, from that aspect, I can definitely learn a lot from him, Tune and Logan,” Massoud said. “Those guys are around Coach Holgorsen every day; they are already at that level, so I’m sure there’s a lot I can learn from them.”

Massoud is OK with waiting for his turn, as long as when he plays, he wins. His goal in Houston is not to play Texas football. 

It’s to make the Cougars feared. 

“My part,” he concluded, “is to continue to build a cohesive unit and push us to be as good as we can be.”

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