When Rivals100 linebacker Roquan Smith visited Florida in late January, he didn’t know what to expect.
It was the first trip to Gainesville for the Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County prospect, and he was just trying to take it all in.
Smith returned to UF this past Saturday and walked away with a much better feel for the school and football program.
“I really got a lot out of this visit,” he said. “Just being able to watch them practice and chill with coach (D.J.) Durkin and coach (Will) Muschamp.
“I also learned about the great business degree they have, which is want I want to major in. So overall it was a great day. Gainesville is just a great place, family-oriented place.”
Linebacker is a major need for the Gators this year after not signing any in their last class, and the coaches stressed to Smith how much of a priority he is to them.
“There’s a great opportunity for me down there, and that’s all I need,” he said. “But with that being said, I feel like I can compete with anybody. I believe I’m one of the best linebackers in the country. That’s why I think I can come in and play early with my ability.”
Smith was joined on his trip Saturday by fellow Georgia native Adonis Thomas of Lawrenceville Central Gwinnett, who is also one of Florida’s top linbacker targets and named UF his leader following their visit.
The two forged a friendship back in Decemeber and would like to attend the same college.
“He’s a great player,” Smith said of Thomas. “We always talk about playing with each other on the next level and doing big things. We talked about it all weekend as a matter of fact. We both see that Florida is a great opportunity for us, with him playing the Sam (strongside) and me playing the Will (weakside).”
Smith also likes the idea of playing under Muschamp and believes he will turn things around in 2014.
“Muschamp always has a great defense there at Florida since he’s been there,” Smith said. “It’s ranked in the top 10 every year. The offensive struggles, I understand that. The quarterback went down. Look at Aaron Rodgers with the Green Bay Packers. He went down and they had a seven-game losing streak. So the quarterback is a key thing. I think Jeff Driskel and Florida will have a good season. Look out for them.”
Smith hopes to announce a group of six finalists before his senior season but said Auburn, Florida and UCLA stand out early on. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder plans to make his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game or on signing day, depending on whether he enrolls early.
“In a school,” Smith said, “I’m just looking for a great place that has a family-oriented program and gives me a great education and an opportunity to play as a true freshman.”
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