UF football lands top defender

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 11:39 p.m.

Greg Mattison and Urban Meyer's relentless pursuit of Omar Hunter came to a successful conclusion Tuesday, when the five-star defensive tackle from Buford, Ga., committed to the University of Florida.

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Co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, left, and Urban Meyer have landed a five-star recruit in Omar Hunter.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

"Throughout the recruiting process, they (Mattison and Meyer) never gave up on trying to get me to come to Florida," Hunter said Tuesday night. "Coach Mattison kept trying, kept calling and sending me e-mails. I've probably become closer to Coach Mattison than any other coach who recruited me. We're very close."

Hunter will have a chance to get to know know Mattison even better over the next three or four years in Gainesville. Hunter is perhaps the No. 1 nose tackle prospect in the nation, and Mattison is the Gators' highly respected defensive line coach.

Given UF's lack of players at defensive tackle, Hunter had become a UF recruiting priority and he should have a chance to contribute early in the middle of UF's young defensive front.

"I'm definitely looking forward to coming in and doing what I have to do to get playing time next season," said the 6-1, 295-pound Hunter. "I hope I can come in and get it done."

Hunter committed to Notre Dame in the fall, but de-committed earlier this month and has been considering Florida and Georgia. Hunter said he liked the nearby 'Dogs, but their recruiting class is already full and they don't have an available scholarship for him.

"When I de-committed from Notre Dame, Georgia was definitely the favorite at the time," Hunter said. "I really like Georgia, it's a great school in the state, but they really didn't have a scholarship for me. Florida kept recruiting me and they became my No. 1."

Hunter and his parents visited UF this past weekend. Hunter said he was ready to commit on his visit, but decided to wait until Tuesday to make it official.

"The trip to Florida was awesome," he said. "I enjoyed it and my family enjoyed it, which was really important to me. It was great having a chance to be around the Florida players and the recruits who will be coming in with me. I was really sold this weekend."

Hunter said on his trip he received several phone calls from Buford teammate and close friend T.J. Pridemore, who committed to UF a week earlier.

"He wanted to know how everything was going. He was real excited for me," Hunter said. "We've been playing football together since the seventh grade. It's awesome that we're going to still be teammates at Florida. We can't wait to play another four years together.

"He loved his visit (to UF the week before), but he didn't try to sell me. He wanted to make sure I made my decision on my own, and that's what I did. He was very happy when I told him I was going to Florida."

Hunter is UF's 22nd commitment. The Gators could get more news in the next week or so, when Hoover, Ala., outside linebacker William Green, a four-star prospect who visited this past weekend. Green said he's told the UF coaches he's going to be a Gator, but said he wants to visit Clemson this weekend before announcing his decision.

With the addition of Hunter, UF's recruiting class is expected to rise to No. 2 in Rivals.com's national rankings.

Over the past two seasons at Buford High School, Hunter combined for 13 sacks and more than 150 tackles.

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