Every year, Florida has a handful of home games that attract its top recruiting targets.
The rivalry game with Tennessee is always one of them.
When the Gators host the Vols on Saturday, there will be plenty of prospects in the south end zone bleachers.
For at least two visitors, it will be their first time taking in The Swamp on gameday.
One recruit is coming to find out if Gainesville could be the place for him. The other already knows it is.
“This is gonna be my first game, ever,” said Daytona Beach Mainland defensive end Leonard Williams. “I’ve never gotten to sit on the sidelines with a football team, and it’s gonna be a team I grew up liking. So I’m gonna enjoy it a lot.”
Williams, rated a four-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, currently has UF in his top four along with Auburn, Florida State and USC.
The most important factors for Williams are relationships with coaches and playing time, and that’s exactly what he will be focusing on this weekend.
“I want to come up so I can get a feel of how the coaches react with the players on the field,” Williams said. “I also want to look at players at my position and how often they’re switched in and out.”
Williams recently got a new phone and said he hasn’t had much contact with defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, his primary recruiter. That has to change if Florida will have a chance with the 6-foot-5, 254-pounder.
“I still need to get a good relationship with coach Dan Quinn because we haven’t been talking much lately,” Williams said. “And I know I might not start my first year, but I want to know if I’ll get playing time.”
He will also be watching Tennessee freshman running back and former teammate Marlin Lane. Williams, an admitted Gator fan, said the two have had friendly trash talk throughout the week.
“Oh yeah, absolutely,” he said. “I tell him they’re gonna get beat all the time.”
Another first-time visitor will have his eyes on the backfield, but it won’t be the Vols.
“I’m ready to see what the atmosphere is gonna be like,” said Stone Mountain, Ga. running back and UF commitment Mike Davis. “I’m looking forward to getting in touch with coach (Charlie) Weis a little more and seeing how his offense is run in person.”
Davis has watched both games this season and is impressed with Florida’s running backs.
“I like the one-two punch with Demps and Rainey. I think they’re being used well in the passing game and they’re showing that they can be dominant running backs in the NFL,” Davis said. “I can’t wait to get to Florida and dominate like those two guys are doing right now.”
In the first two games of his senior season, the Stephenson star has rushed for 425 yards and five touchdowns, including this incredible 53-yard TD run last week.
Largo tight end Sean Culkin will also be visiting for his first UF game — as a recruit.
“My last game was in ’06 against South Carolina when we blocked that field goal. I was there for that,” Culkin said. “And last year I went to Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville.”
The ‘we’ in his statement indicates where he stands with the Gators.
“That was my dream school growing up and I’d love to play for them,” he said.
All the three-star prospect needs is an offer.
With tight ends Kent Taylor (Land O’ Lakes, Fla.) and Kurt Freitag (Buford, Ga.) currently ahead of him on Florida’s board, Culkin has been told that he will have to wait on their decisions.
Culkin has also heard the same thing from Alabama and Georgia, but said primary recruiter Derek Lewis has been the most “straight up” coach about the situation.
Content on letting things play out, Culkin will just look to have fun on Saturday.
“I’ve already seen the facilities, and they’re top notch. I have a pretty good relationship with Derek Lewis, and he’s a great tight ends coach, so I’m just looking to have a good time,” he said.
“I love everything about Florida. It’s always fun to be there. They all welcome me and it’s an awesome place. Not many people get to go watch a game as a recruit, so I’m excited.”
Here is a complete list of this Saturday’s expected visitors …
2012 UF verbal commitments
Latroy Pittman, WR, (6-1/198, Citra/ North Marion)
Mike Davis, RB, (5-10/195, Stone Mountain, GA/ Stephenson)
Marcus Maye, S, (6-1/195, Melbourne/ Holy Trinity)
Austin Hardin, K, (5-11/200, Atlanta, GA/Marist)
Adam Bisnowaty, OL, (6-6/275, Pittsburgh, PA/ Fox Chapel)
Leonard Williams, DE, (6-5/254, Daytona Beach/ Mainland)
Sean Culkin, TE, (6-5/215, Largo/Indian Rocks Christian)
Chris Bivins, DB, (5-11/170, Gainesville/ Gainesville)
Nigel Bowden, LB, (6-1/230, Macon, GA/ Central)
Darren Hambrick Jr., LB, (6-2/220, Brooksville/ Hernando)
Keith Kelsey Jr., LB, (6-2/205, Gainesville/ Gainesville)
Nigel Harris, LB, (6-1/195, Tampa/ Hillsborough)
Kelvin Taylor, RB, (5-11/195, Belle Glades/ Glades Day)
Adam Lane, RB, (5-8/207, Winter Haven, Winter Haven HS)
JJ Green, DB, (5-8/160, Kingsland, GA/ Camden County)
Leon McQuay III, DB, (6-2/185, Seffner/ Armwood)
Richard Benjamin, WR, (6-0/185, Tampa/ Middleton)
Janarion Grant, RB, (6-0/185, Dade City/ Pasco)
Raphael Webb, RB, (5-8/181, Gainesville/ Gainesville HS)
Damonte Jones, DB, (5-8/185, Ocala/ St. Johns)
Jamonte Jones, DB, (5-8/187, Ocala/ St. Johns)
Demarcus Robinson, WR, (6-2/200, Fort Valley, GA/ Peach County)
Jeremiah Sams, RB, (5-11/170, Eustis/Eustis HS)
Cole Segraves, QB, (6-4/190, Moultrie, GA/ Colquitt County)
Chris Thompson, WR, (6-0/170, Gainesville/Gainesville HS)
Demarcus Walker, DE, (6-5/255, Jacksonville/Sandalwood)
JoJo Kemp, RB, (5-10/183, Deland/ Deland HS)
Corey Martinez, OL, (6-4/305, Tampa/Tampa Catholic)
Deshaun Watson, QB, (6-2, 170, Gainesville/ Gainesville HS)
Great Work Zach!
nice one Zach
Thanks for putting this all together, all in one place…Hope we give a “maximum impression”–both on the field and in the stands, but neither should be a problem motivation-wise THIS week. The Swamp should be a wild, rockin’ fun place on Saturday afternoon.
If i’m not mistaken, the 2013 “prospect” group contains three 2nd-generation “Gators”. Hambrick, Kelsey, and Taylor. It’s good to see the torch being passed on from father to son! Go Gators!
Wow! Mike Davis looks like Barry Sanders. Can’t wait to see him in orange and blue!
I noticed that too Don. Time flies, I remember sitting in the south end zone after Hambrick returned a fumble for a TD against UGA like it was yesterday. I guess he got in a fight before the Sugar Bowl that year and got kicked off the team. He transferred to USC and his brother Troy went there too.
Any news on what recruits thought about the UF-UT game?
Throw in JJ Green and you have an argument for 4!! Really excited for what Kelvin Taylor has to offer