Florida recruiting update
Published: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 9:51 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 18, 2007 at 9:51 a.m.
The Gators appear to be locked into some heavy competition on the recruiting front with USC.
A week after one five-star Trojans commitment, defensive end Everson Griffen, visited Gainesville, another is coming in for an official visit.
Ponte Vedra Beach Nease offensive lineman James Wilson was a high school teammate of current UF quarterback Tim Tebow. The 6-foot-4, 300-pound guard, ranked No. 1 nationally at his position by Rivals.com, said his old QB had been in touch.
"I just got off the phone with him," Wilson said. "He wants to show me around, show me a good time."
Wilson said he's "pretty firm right now" to USC. But he has taken official visits to Ohio State and Wake Forest since committing in August.
Griffen, out of Avondale (Ariz.) Agua Fria High School, got an unexpected invite to check out the Florida campus and figured why not.
"I got a call from (co-defensive coordinator) Coach (Greg) Mattison last week, and he wanted to see if I was interested in flying out to see Florida," Griffen said. "I've never been to Florida, so I was interested in seeing what the schools were like."
Griffen said he had a good time meeting Gators players and seeing what the vaunted "Swamp" was like. "I've never seen the Swamp before, and that stadium is humongous," Griffen said. "That was a cool part of the trip. The coaches talked about how they're building all new facilities just like USC is."
But apparently the Gators didn't have much success in building their case for Griffen.
"I'm going to USC," Griffen said. "Florida was nice, but it's not for me."
The Seminoles also have popped on the radar of Nease's Wilson.
It seems his high school coach, Craig Howard, is good friends with Rick Trickett, FSU's new offensive line coach who recently was hired away from West Virginia.
"I want to meet with Coach Trickett to see what his philosophy on the game is," Wilson said. "I've heard great things about him."
Is his willingness to listen to Florida and FSU an indication that he could be swayed from USC?
"I'm open to what (Trickett) has to say about FSU," Wilson said. "Right now I'm fine so it'll have to be a 'wow' conversation." ...
The Seminoles have stepped up their recruitment of junior college wide receiver Demetrius Byrd with the apparent wavering of Louisiana wide receiver commit Ahmad Paige.
Byrd (6-2, 195) is a three-star prospect out of Poplarville (Miss.) Pearl River Community College. Pearl River defensive end Brian Coulter, another three-star prospect, already has committed to FSU. A cadre of coaches showed up for a visit with both prospects at Coulter's home.
The Seminoles sent head man Bobby Bowden, new offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher and new receivers coach Lawrence Dawsey, among others.
"It was a real good feeling to have all of those guys in here," Byrd said. "I can't even explain it. Just alone having Bobby Bowden there is a real big honor, the all-time winningest coach in your sight is unbelievable. I told him when I saw him that he looks much bigger on TV. I was just really excited to meet him."
Byrd said his decision will come down to either FSU or LSU, with no leader at the moment.
Belle Glade Glades Central four-star safety Damien Berry, a Hurricanes commitment, said he'll take an official visit to LSU this weekend.
"I'm just going to see," Berry said. "I want to see if I'm making the right decision to go to Miami."
His official visit to Coral Gables is slated for the weekend of Feb. 3. Berry says those will be his only visits.
Chambers says he got a Hurricane offer in the spring and that what he's looking at is "the depth chart No. 1 and how school life is."
Player spotlight: Damien Berry, Belle Glade Glades Central
Berry, a safety with a solid frame and speed as well, can do it all as a defensive back. Though Berry could play all over the field with his athleticism, the safety spot looks the most likely for the 5-foot-11, 197-pounder.
Regardless of where he ends up position-wise, he racked up scholarship offers in a hurry before delivering a commitment to Miami in early June. However, the nation's No. 11 safety now is taking a late official visit to LSU this weekend. Berry had surgery on his knee recently, but looks to be back on his feet jogging in the next couple of months.
- John Talman
Who am I?
I was a standout linebacker at Pahokee in the latter 1970s. ... I played my college ball at Pittsburgh, where I was part of team that finished ranked No. 2 nationally in 1980. ... I was taken in the second round of the 1981 draft by the New Orleans Saints, for whom I played 13 seasons and made six Pro Bowls. ... Who am I?
Last week's answer: Duane Starks.
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