2011-02-09 / Sports

South’s Licata relieved to sign with UB

by PATRICK J. NAGY Reporter


Williamsville South’s Joe Licata signs a letter of intent to play football for the University at Buffalo on Thursday. Licata is joined by Paula and Gil (parents), and back row, far left, Dana Warman (grandfather); Rachel, Grace and Clare (sisters); and Gerry Grasso and Mary Licata (grandmothers). 
Photo by Scott SchildPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville South’s Joe Licata signs a letter of intent to play football for the University at Buffalo on Thursday. Licata is joined by Paula and Gil (parents), and back row, far left, Dana Warman (grandfather); Rachel, Grace and Clare (sisters); and Gerry Grasso and Mary Licata (grandmothers). Photo by Scott SchildPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Williamsville South senior Joe Licata described signing his letter of intent last Thursday with the University at Buffalo as a relief. Licata verbally committed with UB in June 2010.

“It’s a great relief,” said Licata. “Even though I verbally committed, people still asked me if I was going to de-commit, but it’s a place I always wanted to be and excited to be. It’s where my family is and is where we’re going to be for the next four years.”

Licata’s family, which includes his parents, three sisters and grandparents who always watched him play quarterback for South, played a big role in his decision to play at UB.

“That was probably the biggest reason why I wanted to go there,” said Licata. “My family is such a big part of who I am. They’ve been to every single high school game I have played in. Hopefully, they’ll be at every single college game I play in. That was one of the biggest decisions, to go home and just see them on a weekly basis. It’s going to be a great four years that they’re going to be a part of.”

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Licata is statistically the greatest QB in the history of Western New York high school football. Licata rewrote the WNY record book, setting nine WNY passing records: yards in a game (492); yards (2,573), attempts (296), completions (176) and touchdowns (36) in a season; and career attempts (483), completions (803), yards (6,671), and touchdowns (87). He went 21-6 as a starter and this past fall led South to its first division title and appearance in the Section VI final since 1995.

Licata won the Connolly Cup, given to the top high school football player in WNY, and was named to the First Team All-State and All-WNY teams. He was also named New York State Football Coaches Association Class “A” Player of the Year, Class “A” South Player of the Year and Team MVP.

He’s ranked 79th in the nation for incoming college freshmen quarterback prospects, according to ESPN. com.

Licata knows making the transition to college football won’t be easy. He feels he has a leg up on the competition in that he has played in a shotgun-like formation offense but knows he has to earn the starting job.

“What I liked about coach [Jeff] Quinn [UB coach] is, he did not make any guarantees to me,” said Licata. “When coaches make guarantees, you know they are just trying to get you to go to their schools, but coach Quinn was very real with me. He told me I’ll have the opportunity to compete for a starting job but did not guarantee anything, and that is how it should be. I’ve had a pretty good run in high school, but that doesn’t mean anything for the college level. It’s a totally different game, and I’m just looking forward to competing for that job. I’m confident in my abilities, and I’m really excited for the opportunities ahead of me.”

“He’s as humble as he is good,” said South coach Kraig Kurzanski. “He’s a smart kid, loves to study football and play it. I think he will have a great career at UB. His better days are ahead of him.”

Licata will attend UB on a full scholarship. He is undecided on a major. e-mail: pnagy@beenews.com

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