GHS QB to walk on at UF

Gainesville High School quarterback Ryan McGriff passes the ball downfield in a game against Buchholz High School at Citizen's Field. The Hurricanes won 14-9 over the Bobcats.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.

Overshadowed by the National Signing Day festivities, Florida has added a little help to its quarterback position.

Wednesday, Gainesville quarterback Ryan McGriff decided he will attend the University of Florida as a preferred walk-on after having an extensive meeting with new Florida coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis over the weekend.

McGriff garnered interest from South Carolina and received offers from Ohio and Football Championship Subdivision schools like Elon, Murray State and Wofford. In the end, McGriff said Florida's academics were "the biggest thing" that drew him to Florida and the chance to follow his father, Mark McGriff, and, grandfather Perry McGriff Jr., who suited up for the Gators, was too much to pass up.

"It's not a scholarship, but it's the next best thing for me at my dream school," Ryan McGriff said. "I've lived in Gainesville my whole life, so it's pretty much a dream come true, actually. I'm moving a mile and half from my house. It can't get any better than that."

Ryan said he's always wanted to play for Florida, but didn't think he'd get the opportunity while Urban Meyer was the coach at Florida. Ryan, who doesn't consider himself a runner "at all," said he didn't fit Meyer's spread offense and was never recruited by him or his staff.

However, Ryan said Muschamp called him a week into being hired in December and asked him if he'd be willing to join Florida's program as a walk-on. Ryan thought it over and said his decision to attend UF was sealed after visiting the school last weekend.

GHS coach Ryan Smith said even though Ryan will arrive as a walk-on, he has the tools and intelligence to compete with Florida's scholarship quarterbacks, including Oviedo Hagerty early enrollee Jeff Driskel, who was the consensus No. 1 quarterback in the country.

"I think he's going to do something at Florida," Smith said. "He's got stiff competition going in, but the thing about Ryan is Ryan is a competitor. Ryan is a winner. You don't win 22 games in high school and not be a winner.

"He's a smart kid, he knows football, he knows where people are supposed to be (on the field). Ryan threw for 6,000 yards and 60 touchdowns during his career here at GHS, and that's pretty impressive."

Ryan said his goal is to find a way to get on the field during his career at Florida, but he believes his immediate responsibility will be taking on the role as Florida's scout team quarterback, which is something he's perfectly OK with.

"I've accepted the fact that I'm not a big-name recruit," he said. "As a local kid, I know what it takes — to work hard and earn what you get. I have no problem being the scout-team quarterback, helping the defense, helping the offense, learning whatever signals, holding. Whatever I can do to help them be a better football team."

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