North Marion’s Tarquin was an early Florida target

North Marion offensive tackle Michael Tarquin, center, gets a hug from his dad Jim Tarquin and mom Dawn Tarquin after signing his letter of intent with the University of Florida at Healthy Harts Fitness in Ocala on Wednesday afternoon. [Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner]

By Scott LaPeer, Correspondent

OCALA — In the end, Michael Tarquin couldn’t wait to be a Gator.

On Wednesday morning, the first of college football’s three-day early signing period, Tarquin, a 6’6”, 290 pound offensive lineman from North Marion High, was the first Florida Gator signee to submit his national letter of intent.

“Welcome to the family, Mike Tarquin,” Florida head coach Dan Mullen tweeted Wednesday morning. “First signee of the day!”

With that exclamation, Tarquin’s journey, which included visits to and from many of America’s premier college football programs over the past couple years, concluded with the Ocala native choosing The University of Florida. After all the road trips and recruiting pitches, Tarquin found his optimal destination was just up the road in Gainesville.

“It’s a very happy day,” Tarquin said Wednesday evening at his signing ceremony at Healthy Harts Gym in Ocala. “I’m excited. It’s a dream come true. I’m very glad to be a Gator, and glad I made this decision.”

One month ago, the 17-year old, who will enroll early at Florida and begin classes on January 4th, was headed in a different direction — South.

Tarquin initially announced, on April 21st, he had committed to The University of Miami. The decision was as big as it was early. But where the previous coaching staff at Florida never quite made Tarquin feel like a valued prospect, Mullen and Florida co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, John Hevesy changed the Gators’ tune.

On November 26th, those two coaches paid a visit to the Tarquin home in Ocala to make their pitch. One week later, on December 3rd, Tarquin announced he’d changed his mind and was going to be a Gator.

“(Coach Mullen) told me, ‘If you come here, you’ll work harder than you ever thought possible,’” Tarquin said. “I knew then that’s where I wanted to be, because I want to be great, and they’re going to push me to reach my full potential.”

For Tarquin, even at his young age, Wednesday’s signing was the realization of a lifelong dream.

“Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been going to games in Gainesville,” Tarquin added. “I’ve been a huge Gator fan. It’s been my dream since I was a little kid.”

It’s going to be very demanding, but I can’t wait to get to work. I know I have a lot of work to do, and I’m very ready to take it on.”


  1. I jumped off of the bridge over the Silver River in Ocala around 1987 or 88. The bridge on I-40 if it is still known as I-40. Anywhere in Florida is a quality athlete. I claim what made me tough was playing in the ocean most of my life. Living in Florida just makes people tough. The sun, salty air and water, weather and dealing with all of the tourists…lol. Look at all of the best schools in the NCAA – always targeting Florida men and women. That is why UCF has been so good. We need more athletes like this young man here. I didn’t see any stars next to his name??? I bet he gets noticed real fast! GO GATORS!!!

  2. Ed, he is considered a 4 star talent at O tackle which is a huge position of needed quality depth, as are William Harrod and Wardwick Wilson. We also got a 3 star tackle in Ethan White. From what I have read, Talquin and Wilson both have the quick feet needed to play tackle in the SEC, while the others have the size but lack the speed and will probably project as guards and move inside once the dust settles. With Tez no longer eligible and Wanny projected as a most likely day 1 NFL pick, we are going to need both tackle positions reloaded and only Stone Forsythe and Noah Banks got any substantial experience this season and it wasn’t a lot. It’s not all doom and gloom as some would suggest though, we have the two afore mentioned guy’s plus Richard Gouraige whom was highly rated last year, The man mountain Chris Bleich as well as others whom could emerge unexpectedly such as Delance the transfer from Texas, TJ Moore that I understand has been moved back to the O-line, etc. The cupboard is far from bare and I have confidence in Hevesy that our O-line will be even better this year than last, even with all of the attrition. If only from another year under that guy’s coaching. What he did as far as making chicken salad out of chicken poop from 2017 with the same ingredients was just short of a miracle IMHO. You could literally see that group improving from week to week this season.

    • Despite the fact that their play improved as the season went along, can you imagine Pierce as a sophomore running behind the O-line that’s being built now? Or for that matter, Jones/Franks/Trask having more time? I can’t wait.

    • Thanks Papa for the 411 on Tarquin’s ****’s. I saw that when I visited a site that shows recruits and their status. It is very reassuring to see that our O-line already has the potential in just one cycle to be very special. Protect the QB and the run game should be much improved. I already take pretty good care of myself with clean living, but I am going that extra mile to live as long as I can to watch our GATORS return to glory. GO GATORS!!!

  3. I love it when we get a kid like this! Great talent and potential in a position of need for the Gators. He sounds like a solid young man who knew where he wanted to go if only the UF staff reached out to him. CDM and Hevesy corrected MacNuss’ mistake and got this young man on board. We should get all the top rated kids from Ocala and Gainesville and let them live their dream of playing in the Swamp and winning championships in front of family and friends. Welcome to the Gator Family Michael!!!