Gators' 14th pledge is a big receiver

Published: Monday, June 15, 2009 at 1:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 at 1:52 p.m.

After a few quiet months in the world of recruiting, Florida has heated up in the last 24 hours.

The Gators received their 13th commitment of the 2010 class when Mobile, Ala., Murphy wide receiver Solomon Patton gave his verbal pledge Sunday.

Monday, Florida added No. 14 when Andover, N.H., Proctor Academy receiver Stephen Alli informed UF’s coaches that he wanted to be a Gator after camping in Gainesville last week.

Originally from Toronto, Alli said when he was first offered a scholarship by Florida’s coaches, it took him a while to soak in what had just happened.

“I was like, ‘Wow. This is happening right now,’” he said. “I was really excited about it and I’ve always liked Florida, so this is big.”

Even though he calls Canada home, Alli said he’s been following the Gators for some time. He grew up a fan and has been watching games on TV for as long as he can remember.

Alli kept the thought of one day donning the orange-and-blue in the back of his mind and once he realized he might have a future in football, he took his game to the states. Alli traveled around to various camps and the more he got noticed by scouts, the more he got noticed by bigger schools, including Florida. It was when coach Urban Meyer and his staff got in touch with Alli that he decided to make the trip down to Gainesville to show them what he was capable of.

The thing that Alli said he thinks impressed Florida’s coaches the most was the fact that despite his 6-foot-5, 208-pound frame, he still has blazing speed. He was last recorded running a 4.4 in the 40.

Playing football up north, Alli said he wasn’t accustomed to seeing the speed like he did when he worked out at Florida’s camp last week, but that he felt he wasn’t outperformed by any means.

“Nothing really compares to it. Football down south is taken a lot more seriously compared to Canada,” Alli said.

“Speed is a big thing there, but I kind of fit in pretty well, so that wasn’t really much of a problem for me.”

It’s not just the combination of size and speed that makes Alli a unique prospect. He’s also got things going for him in the classroom.

Before choosing Florida, Alli said he had to take a few days to contemplate playing in Gainesville or studying medicine at Harvard.

Alli said it was a “long and thought out process” and to make sure he made the right choice, Alli consulted his parents and his high school coaches. Together, they laid out what each school had to offer and what he could take away from each.

In the end, Florida’s football program and academic makeup was too good for Alli to pass up.

“I was looking for a balance of academics and football,” he said. “I’m interested in the pre-med field and their med school is real good there and their program is solid. Plus, Florida’s won two-of-three BCS Championships.”

Alli, who caught 13 passes for 351 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior, also plays basketball at Proctor Academy, but said he will focus on football at Florida.

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