Huge turnout expected for Friday Night Lights
Published: Friday, July 22, 2011 at 10:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 11:19 p.m.
In the world of college football recruiting showcases, Friday Night Lights ranks among the biggest.
Tonight at 7, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium plays host to UF's one-night summer camp for hundreds of high school football players from around the country.
Friday Night Lights was the brainchild of Urban Meyer and his inaugural staff at Florida in 2005, and it has grown into a monster.
Within a few years of its inception, it became the best-known on-campus summer showcase in the nation, one that has been duplicated by nearly every college football powerhouse.
“It's the Gators' premier recruiting event and it has led to multiple commitments and in-roads with recruits for the Gators throughout the years,” said Chris Nee, Rivals.com state of Florida analyst. “When you talk to recruits it's apparent there is a general excitement about attending the event and participating with such great competition. When you get great players in a competitive environment such as that and they excel in front of a college staff, it isn't shocking that it ultimately leads to commitments and lasting memories. It wouldn't shock me if Will Muschamp and company pick up a few commitments (tonight), but I think the positive momentum built in The Swamp will help them with recruiting success heading into the season.”
Friday Night Lights benefits most from being among the last camps of the summer, so as to maximize the number of elite recruits who can attend. It also benefits from the atmosphere of The Swamp at night with music blaring and videos of Gator exploits on a massive TV screen.
As the years have gone by, Friday Night Lights has attracted more and more top prospects. And while there were some questions about how a new coaching staff would embrace and continue the tradition, all signs are pointing to this year's event being the biggest yet.
Among the most high profile players expected to attend are receivers Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor, linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Tyriq McCord, cornerback Tracy Howard, tight end Kent Taylor and defensive lineman Carlos Watkins.
The Gator coaching staff has to be overjoyed to see so many players (and so many at important positions of need) expected to be on hand. Florida will also benefit from a few “extra recruiters,” as several 2012 pledges will be in attendance, including running backs Matt Jones and Mike Davis, linebackers Jeremi Powell and Lorenzo Phillips, wide receiver Latroy Pittman, cornerback Brian Poole and defensive linemen Dante Phillips, Jafar Mann and Quinteze Williams.
Contact Jeff Barlis at (352) 374-5066 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow at Twitter.com/JeffBarlis.