With less than three weeks until Signing Day, defensive back Noah Boykin has a difficult decision on his hands.
Boykin, a 6-foot-2 prospect out of Washington D.C., remains committed to the University of Maryland, but that hasn’t stopped programs from across the nation from recruiting him. He’ll announce his decision on Signing Day, a day before his 18th birthday.
And the Gators are definitely in the mix to land Boykin, ranked the No. 33 defensive back by 247Sports in the 2018 class, but they’ll have to stave off the Terrapins, along with Notre Dame.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly even went in-home with Boykin on Thursday before he arrived in Gainesville on Friday for an official visit.
“It definitely went well,” Boykin said of his official visit. “It was a great feeling getting back down here. Nice weather.”
Gators cornerbacks coach Charlton Warren has been recruiting Boykin throughout his recruitment, and that continued once Warren made the move from Tennessee to Florida.
“I was initially being recruited by coach Warren,” Boykin said. “He looked at me for awhile, so he kind of knew my game and I knew him as well. So, we connected there.”
But when Warren was at Tennessee, and during UF coach Dan Mullen’s tenure at Mississippi State, both programs had little shot of landing Boykin. Yet when the coaching pair arrived at UF – known for its recruitment and development of some of the best defensive backs in the nation – Boykin was all ears.
“Coach Warren knew I wasn’t going to Tennessee at all, and he said coach Mullen said ‘Man, I knew you wasn’t coming to Mississippi State at all’,” Boykin said. “UF is definitely the original D.B.U. I mean, a lot of people have been in and out, especially two people from the DMV (D.C., Maryland, Virginia) – Joe Haden, Teez Tabor – it worked out well for them, so it might work out well for me.”
And Boykin’s host at UF for the weekend – defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson – helped reassure him on aspects a prospect who might make the transition to the South would be curious about.
“I like Chauncey, man. He talks a lot but you can tell he’s focused, he knows what he wants to do in life,” Boykin said. “He was taking me through everything, everything I needed to know. I asked a lot of questions, and he answered them perfectly.
“Just what would it be like just as an African-American at Florida. Just like everywhere else. Being from a D.C. public school, what’s the difference between a public school and coming up here to college and trying to learn something new.”
Boykin said Gardner-Johnson left a parting message that encouraged him UF would provide for him academically and from an athletic standpoint.
“He was like ‘They’re going to help you with everything, they’re going to help you develop as a player, as a student, as a young man as well’,” Boykin said. “And coach Mullen and everybody that’s coming in, I feel it’s going to be a great organization they’re going to build in the next couple years.”
Now, with Signing Day quickly approaching, Boykin will talk his decision over with his family before deciding on the biggest decision of his life.
“The three schools I’m really looking at are here, Notre Dame and Maryland. So when I get back, it’s basically decision time for me and talk everything over with my family, and we’re going to come up with a big decision on February 7th,” Boykin said. “It definitely has to feel like home. I know a lot of people were kind of throwing shade to me because I committed to Maryland, but part of the reason why I committed to Maryland is because it’s such a family culture up there with coach (D.J.) Durkin and (defensive backs) coach Aazaar (Abdul-Rahim) and all the staff. A family environment is a great environment to be in, I definitely want to be somewhere where we’re competing and actually working for something.”
And if it’s Florida, it’ll come down to feeling that family relationship with UF’s leader in charge.
“Of course, the nice weather,” Boykin joked. “No, it would have to be coach Mullen, it would have to be coach Mullen. A new coaching staff and I pretty much got to get a feel for everything else, but coach Mullen has definitely inspired me over these last couple weeks. When we were talking to him, when he came to the home visit he impressed my grandmother. That’s my heart right there.”