McFarland will grayshirt this fall

Published: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 7:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 24, 2010 at 7:45 p.m.

When Michael McFarland was first approached more than a week ago by Florida's coaches with the possibility of grayshirting this fall, he was very apprehensive.

For the Tampa Blake tight end, playing major college football had been a goal since his pee wee football days, and grayshirting would just delay that goal. Instead of reporting to Gainesville in July and participating in summer practices, McFarland would have to stay in Tampa before enrolling at Florida next January.

McFarland wasn't comfortable with the situation until Florida's staff informed him that it was completely up to him. With the power of choice in his hands, McFarland said he took the week before his official visit to Florida to think over his decision.

After meeting with the coaches extensively over the weekend, McFarland decided it would be best to take time off to add some bulk to his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame.

"I'm just going to wait until my time comes," said McFarland, whom ranks as a three-star prospect and the 24th-best tight end in the country. "Patience is a virtue. I've never been a patient kid, but I've had to work for everything anyway. I was used to working hard and getting something quick. I had to wait 12 years (to play college football) and now I have to wait (longer).

"Patience, I just have to have it and go hard in the weight room and work on everything I need to work on, which is speed and quickness, so I can go up there in January and everything will be good to go."

Accepting the grayshirt means that McFarland can still sign his Letter of Intent on National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

McFarland said grades had no influence on his decision, but he plans to take classes at Hillsborough Community College this fall.

Grades weren't a problem, but his appearance was. A thigh injury sidelined McFarland for three games during his senior year, and McFarland said Florida's coaches didn't think he was physically ready to compete at Florida yet. To get his body in the proper shape, McFarland said he's planning to use the rest of the year to add muscle and increase his speed. His goal is to get into the 270-275-pound range before next January.

One of the factors that influenced McFarland's decision to delay his enrollment was his involvement with his high school basketball team. McFarland said he loses too much muscle mass during the season and would now have more time to regain and add to that.

"I want to add up there to what I already have," he said. "I wouldn't want to go up there all stripped of everything and then start from scratch again.

"This is a great opportunity for me to take these next six months and run with them and then go there and blow everybody's mind."

McFarland said he also used his visit to develop better relationships with his future teammates and coaches. The family atmosphere coach Urban Meyer and his players have created at Florida helped McFarland get over his disappointment of pushing back his arrival in Gainesville.

He also learned that Florida's coaching staff will be working him through the entire process.

"I've got to put those people more in my life because if there's anything I need, they wanted me to know that I can go to them for anything," he said.

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