UC Fine Fit For Freshman Football Phenom
Date: Dec. 21, 2001
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Choosing to attend the University of Cincinnati wasn't always an obvious decision for Gino Guidugli, but after four memorable months, it's one that he wouldn't dream of changing.
Guidugli, UC's freshman phenom quarterback, has earned fame and honors by passing for 2,573 yards and twice winning games this year with go-ahead TD passes in the final 10 seconds of play.
He was a unanimous choice as Conference USA Freshman of the Year and the first freshman ever to win the Claude Rost Award as UC's team MVP.
He wraps up his first year of college football on Saturday, Dec. 29, leading UC (7-4) into the Motor City Bowl in Pontiac, Mich., against the University of Toledo (9-2).
Guidugli the student has found life at UC to be good, as well.
"I don't ever think about my decision anymore," Guidugli says. "I'm happy with my decision. It was the best decision for me. I don't regret anything."
The fact of the matter is Guidugli had all kinds of options coming out of Highlands High School in the Northern Kentucky suburb of Fort Thomas. He threw for nearly 7,400 yards and 90 touchdowns in two seasons, leading Highlands to Kentucky Class AAA state titles each season. His 4,367 passing yards as a senior was the second-highest season total in Kentucky history.
At 6-4 and 205 pounds, he had the physical talents to draw the interest of schools like Notre Dame, Ohio State and North Carolina. As a student with a 3.85 GPA and National Honor Society membership, he was able to seriously consider opportunities with Ivy League schools.
He was ready to sign to play football at the University of Kentucky, but then a recruiting scandal forced their head coach to resign.
After reconsidering his options, Guidugli decided on UC.
"The more I thought about it the more I thought it would be an easy transition staying in this area," Guidugli says. He felt the same urge that many area students do to get away from home, but he's found out that only moving a few miles from home and into a dorm can give you just as much independence as going to school hundreds of miles from home.
Guidugli is enrolled in UC's College of Business Administration with an interest in pursuing management. The academic transition, he says, has gone smoothly. "My classes are like a continuation of high school, just a little more advanced and challenging, but I'm making the adjustment to them," he says. "And living in a dorm has been kind of neat, just getting to know so many new people."
One reason Guidugli was drawn to UC was the idea that staying in the community would be good for his future business prospects in town after his football career is over.
It has also made the close-knit Guidugli family happy to have the oldest of their four sons only a few miles away. Gino can get a home-cooked meal anytime he wants, while "they can come and see my games so easily, plus they can call me up if one of my brothers has homework that no one else understands."
It remains to be seen just what kind of long-term success awaits Guidugli, both on the field and off. But the first few months of college have been tantalizing because he has made such an auspicious transition.
"I couldn't have planned this any better than it's gone so far,'' Guidugli says. "We've got one more game this year, where we want to send our seniors out on a winning note. Then it's going to be time to work hard and get ready for next year."
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