On Sunday, it sounded like Florida was in store for an early Christmas present.
Now UF has to wait until January — and by then their gift could be going to somebody else.
Rumors ran rampant over the weekend that five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard was leaning toward the Gators and would give them his commitment this Wednesday. Bullard’s teammate is UF safety commit Rhaheim Ledbetter.
But on Monday afternoon, the 6-foot-4, 255-pounder sat down with his coaches and decided that he needed more time to decide.
“Me, him and the defensive coordinator were sitting in the office talking,” Crest high school coach Mark Barnes said, “and when we got through Jonathan didn’t feel like he’s had time to digest everything and make a decision that he was comfortable with.”
The Shelby, N.C., standout has been drained throughout the year and that’s kept him from being able to reflect on the recruiting process.
“He’s been bombarded with the media, 16 games, the Shrine Bowl and all the coaches visiting him,” Barnes said, “and he hasn’t had any time off. I talked to his mom and we thought it was in his best interest to sit around this Christmas without any distractions and then see where he’s at after the holidays.”
Bullard’s top three schools are Clemson, Florida and South Carolina, although the Gators and Tigers appeared to have the edge as of late. But Barnes said the Gamecocks remain in the mix and it doesn’t look like Bullard has a favorite yet.
“When I told him I need to call the schools that he’s most interested in and let them know, Jonathan said he still has interest in all three places and had me call each one,” Barnes said. “And he didn’t prioritize them as first, second or third to me. So as far as I’m concerned, there isn’t any clear-cut leader or else he wouldn’t have put his announcement off.”
“I told him if he knows where he wants to go when we get back from break then commit,” Barnes said, “and if not, then we’ll wait a little longer. All three schools have great programs and coaches, so he can’t make a bad choice. But this is a four-year decision and he needs to get it right.”
The Gators could still receive some good news Wednesday as JUCO offensive lineman Pierce Burton and JUCO defensive tackle Damien Jacobs will be signing their letters of intent. Both prospects have taken official visits to Gainesville and list Florida among their finalists.