Big lineman tells Zook he's coming

Published: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 at 12:16 a.m.


The day after raving about his weekend visit to Gainesville, Lakeland Lake Gibson offensive tackle Jason Watkins went with his strong feeling for Ron Zook and the Gators and orally committed to Florida on Monday.
Gibson called Zook with the news Monday morning, and said he's so solid on his choice of schools that he's told LSU coach Nick Saban and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops not to bother coming to Lakeland later this week to pay him in-home visits.
"I just felt so good there this weekend. I just felt like I was at home," said the 6-foot-7, 287-pound Watkins. "It's a great school. I knew it was Florida for a while, and I just felt like it was time to make a commitment. I'm going to Florida."
Watkins sort of leaked his surprise after his weekend visit Sunday night, when he described his two-day stay in Gainesville as the best recruiting trip he's had by far.
Watkins is the third offensive lineman to commit to the Gators in the last two days, joining Sarasota Riverview's Drew Miller and Crawfordville Wakulla's Jim Tartt, who also visited UF this past weekend. The Gators now have 11 oral commitments.
Watkins is considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the state and also was considering Oklahoma, LSU, Auburn and Michigan State. Watkins grew up in Louisiana and moved to Lakeland two years ago. But he said he now considers Florida home and has canceled his scheduled trip to Baton Rouge, La., this weekend. He said he will not make any more visits now that his decision has been made.
In other news, the Gators expect to hear later this week from two other top prospects who visited UF over the weekend - Lake Mary linebacker Keith Rivers and Toledo, Ohio, wide receiver Fred Davis.
Rivers will get a visit from Southern Cal coaches today, then will meet with Zook and defensive coordinator Charlie Strong on Wednesday before announcing his decision, which could come as soon as Wednesday afternoon or evening. Rivers is down to UF and USC and has been favoring the Trojans throughout the recruiting process.
Davis will make an announcement on Thursday. His final four are Florida, Miami, Ohio State and Southern Cal.
You can reach Robbie Andreu at 374-5022 or at

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