Commit says he'll go from Seminole to Gator


Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 1:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 1:54 p.m.

Jonathan Dowling doesn’t mind being a Bradenton, Fla., Southeast Seminole for one more season.

The safety doesn’t mind looking at a logo that is almost identical to that of Florida State because, like his high school uniform, it comes in his favorite color combination – orange and blue. Those are the colors Dowling says he’ll be wearing in 2010 after verbally committing to Florida on March 1.

Dowling isn’t the biggest FSU fan in the first place – he’s looking forward to playing the Seminoles more than any other team on UF’s schedule – but he compares his game to former Seminole great Deion Sanders. In fact, Dowling said if he’s able to get an interception and take it back for a touchdown against FSU at any point in his career, he plans to find and point out all of his friends and family that are pro-FSU and give them the Gator chomp.

But don’t count on Dowling mimicking Sanders’ classic high step at any point. Dowling has had his celebrations restricted by his high school coach, and he’s already familiar with the philosophy of UF coach Urban Meyer on how to act after making a big play.

“I don’t celebrate anymore because I know (Meyer) doesn’t like it,” Dowling said. “I just give the ball to the ref and shake my teammates’ hands.”

Dowling is the sixth pledge of the Gators’ 2010 class, and like his fellow classmates, he didn’t need much time to make his college decision and is hoping that the whole process is over.

“I wanted to get back to being a regular kid,” Dowling said of committing with 11 months remaining until National Signing Day. “I wanted to get some of those phone calls and mail out of the way, so I can concentrate on school.”

Dowling said he hopes there will be less interest in him from other schools so that he can concentrate more on his own academics and also improve a few parts of his game. It could be tough to improve on a solid junior season in which the 6-foot-3, 178-pound defensive back had 48 total tackles and 14 interceptions.

“Dowling doesn't have the knockout punch at safety like Major Wright, but he's more of a centerfielder who has the athleticism and height to chase down passes and get interceptions,” Adam Gorney of Rivals.com said. “He had 14 picks in his junior season, so that says a lot about his talent in the secondary. Florida already has six commitments in the 2010 class and four of them are defensive backs, but Dowling has the potential to be one of the best.”

One downside for some players that come into a class with a few other talented players at the same position is that competition can turn bitter. Staying happy can become a problem. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Dowling, who said he’s not concerned with the competition he’ll be facing once he moves north.

“I could care less how many people are (at the safety position)," he said. “I’m going in there to take somebody’s spot.”

Dowling said that with recruiting out of his mind, some of the pressure is off, which he hopes will make him an even better player. Better play could entice other schools, but Dowling contends he’s done looking around.

“The door is closed and I’m going to stay a Gator, unless Urban Meyer gets fired – and I highly doubt that’s going to happen,” he said.

“I’m only taking one visit (in the fall) and that’s back to Gainesville. I put my word on being a Gator and I’m going to stay that way.”

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