Dante Fowler Jr. is all about business.
When he visits a college campus, he calls it a “business trip.” When he signs the dotted line on National Signing Day, it will be a “business decision.”
On Wednesday, he had some business to handle with the University of Florida.
The St. Petersburg, Fla., Lakewood linebacker/defensive end needed to meet the new coaching staff for the first time.
“Other schools I might go to have fun,” said Fowler, a Florida State commitment. “But Florida, it’s all business every time. They’ve been wanting me to go up there so I finally did.”
The day started with a tour of the facilities from his primary recruiter, tight end coach Derek Lewis.
“He told me, ‘Why would you wanna be somewhere else?’ ” Fowler said.
Then Fowler traveled upstairs, where he received a warm welcome.
“The whole coaching staff was outside waiting for me,” he said. “I talked to all of them and they took me in real good. I felt real comfortable. They’re kind of young coaches and I’m into that kind of coaching staff. We clicked very well.”
From there, he went with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and watched film for “a good two hours.”
“We went over how they would use me, how their defense is, a lot of techniques and moves I didn’t know about it,” Fowler said. “I learned a lot of stuff.”
Fowler had lunch with Gator offensive lineman Chaz Green and also spent time with defensive linemen Sharrif Floyd and Ronald Powell.
“They told me Florida is a good school,” Fowler said. “I heard it from more than one person, I even heard it from people who aren’t football players.”
One of those people was head coach Will Muschamp, who went over the depth chart to sell early playing time. He also promised Fowler No. 6, his favorite number, which will open up once senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard graduates.
“I’m their No. 1 priority,” Fowler said. “He said he thinks I’m mature enough to come in as a freshman and play a lot. I don’t want to have to wait until my junior year. I just want to get on the field early and contribute and make an impact for the program.”
The FSU verbal also heard plenty of trash talking from the Gator coaches.
“They said, ‘Why play around 25,000 people when you can play in front of 92,000 screaming, rowdy fans?’ ” Fowler said. “They were like, ‘Why play with a team that doesn’t even sell out their stadium while we’ve been selling out our stadium since 1979?’ And I was just like, ‘Dang.’ ”
The comparison had some effect on Fowler.
“Kind of,” he admitted. “That’s one thing about me, I always want to play for a big crowd, always.”
Maybe that explains his love for The Swamp.
“I don’t know what it is,” Fowler said, “but I can always see myself playing on that football field.”
Fowler will see that field at least five more times this year. He will be back for Friday Night Lights, the Alabama and Florida State games and an official visit after the season.
But first, he’ll return this Wednesday with his family.
Although he remains committed to the Seminoles, UF could flip the one-time Gator lean if they follow his guidelines.
“Just keep showing me love, keep trying, show me the depth chart and just don’t lie to me,” Fowler said. “Don’t say I’m the only person that you want and then have three or four people that play my same position coming in. Just keep being straight up and honest, and you never know what can happen.”
Fowler, who sits at No. 11 in the Rivals top 100, does know he won’t be leaving home.
“I’m playing in-state college football,” Fowler said. “And to be honest with you, it’s either gonna be out of Florida and Florida State.”
He grew up hating the Gators. He has a family full of FSU fans. But Fowler said none of that matters to him in his recruitment.
It’s all about business.