UF FOOTBALL RECRUITING

Rutledge will visit UF, then decide


Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 1:02 a.m.

The phone call Eric Rutledge has been waiting so long for finally came at a time and a place that caught him a little off guard. He was sitting at the airport in Charleston, N.C., waiting for a plane to return from an official visit to East Carolina, when his cell phone rang and Florida coach Ron Zook was on the other end.

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Rutledge

Zook had tracked down the P.K. Yonge fullback/linebacker to offer him a scholarship.

"I was a little stunned and real happy," Rutledge said. "It's something I've been waiting to hear for a long time. I've been a Gator fan all my life, so it's something that means a lot to me."

Rutledge will be making an official visit to UF this weekend and it's conceivable (maybe likely) he'll commit to the Gators on Sunday morning.

Until last Sunday, Rutledge had been getting a lot of attention from UF, but no scholarship offer. Now, he has one.

"I'm looking forward to this visit. I've been a fan for a while," he said. "I want to see what it's really like before I make my decision. It's possible I'll commit at the end of the visit. Right now, it's still up in the air, but my heart says Florida."

Rutledge received an in-home visit from Zook on Wednesday night. Zook caught up with Rutledge after spending most of the afternoon and early evening with Hawthorne two-sport star Cornelius Ingram, the No. 1 quarterback prospect on UF's board.

"Coach Zook came by and we just talked about the process and my visit and what to expect," Rutledge said. "It was like an information thing. He didn't ask me to commit or anything. He's a cool guy.

"He told me I'd probably start out in the backfield, but it doesn't matter where I play. Whatever works out best. If not fullback, I'll play linebacker."

Rutledge, who also is being recruited by East Carolina and South Carolina, said he's just happy Florida, his favorite school all along, is now an option for him.

"Coach Zook told me from the start to be patient and things will come around and everything will work out," he said. "I waited and the offer finally game."

While Rutledge got his UF offer, another area player - Hawthorne wide receiver Marcus Baker- is still waiting for one. Zook told Baker after Baker's visit to Gainesville last weekend that he'd know about a scholarship by the end of the week.

As for Ingram, he will visit the University of South Florida today and probably won't announce anything until National Signing Day on Wednesday. He says his final three teams - UF, FSU and USF - are all equal at this time and he has not made a decision.

In other news, the Gators are expected to get a commitment today from Atlanta, Ga., defensive tackle Michael Brown, when he officially announces his decision at Westlake High School.

Brown told TheInsiders on Wednesday that he is de-committing from Georgia and will announce for the Gators today.

"I just like the players and atmosphere there at Florida," the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Brown said. "I can see myself there for four or five years. I had a lot of love for both schools, but I thought Florida would be best for me. When I went to Florida (on an official visit two weeks ago) something hit me in a way like, 'Wow.' "

Brown had been wavering on his commitment to the Bulldogs since his visit to Gainesville.

He said the recruiting process is over for him and he'll sign with UF on Wednesday.

"I'm not taking any more official visits and I don't have any more in-home visits scheduled," he said. "I'm done."

Brown will be UF's 16th oral commitment.

UF had hoped to pick up another top player from Georgia on Wednesday, but Stone Mountain, Ga., linebacker Josh Johnson decided to stay close to home and committed to the Bulldogs over UF and Miami. He made his announcement live on "Countdown to Signing Day". Florida State also picked up two commitments on the weekly television show - Orlando Edgewater teammates Kenny Ingram (safety) and Aaron Jones (defensive tackle).

The Seminoles figure to pick up another big commitment today, from Florence, S.C., linebacker Lawrence Timmons, who also is considering UF and UT. He said Wednesday he's known where he wants to go for the last month, dating back to his official visit to Tallahassee.

Another prospect who had UF in his top three, Nashville Brentwood Academy fullback David Holbert, orally committed to Tennessee on Wednesday.

You can reach Robbie Andreu by calling 374-5022 or by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com.

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