Cowart’s freshman year will guide senior season

Bryon Cowart is the No. 1 overall recruit in the Rivals100. (Photo by Zach Abolverdi/The GainesvilleSun)

As five-star defensive end Byron Cowart gears up his final season of high school football, he often reflects on his freshman campaign for reference.

That year showed him how to handle the recruiting process and prepare for games at a championship level.

His Armwood Hawks won the Class 6A state title, though it was later stripped by the FHSAA for the use of ineligible players. The team, highlighted by current Florida running back Matt Jones, had 12 seniors sign with Division 1 programs.

“My freshman season,” Cowart said, “I feel like I was there and saw all that for a reason.”

He still remembers the on-field interviews following the title game, and listening to the seniors. They talked about the victory and what it meant to go out as champions.

But then they spoke of a freshman few knew about.

“Right after we won,” Cowart recalls, “Matt and (South Carolina signee) Cody Waldrop were surrounded by all these reporters and told them, ‘This guy Byron is someone to watch out for.’ They gave me exposure, so now I have to do it for my teammates.”

Cowart, who is ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals, can go to any school in the country.

He plans to announce his decision in January at the Under Armour All-America Game on ESPN, but it’s not for the T.V. time.

“I’m not one of those guys who wants to commit and make it all about me,” Cowart said. “My favorite part about the recruiting process is when all of these college coaches come to our practices. I love it.

“They might be coming to see me, but all my teammates have an opportunity to get looked at, too. And that’s why I’m waiting to commit. It’s not about me.”

Florida was the early leader for Cowart, but Oregon is currently his favorite. The 6-foot-3, 257-pounder likes the Ducks’ affiliation with Nike and how they get players ready for the NFL.

“I just feel like I can’t go wrong there,” he said.

UF defensive line coach Brad Lawing has the Gators standing out, and Alabama rounds out his Top 3.

“When it all comes down to it, I know Florida, Oregon and Alabama are going to be in there at the end of my recruitment,” said Cowart, who is on track to enroll early. “But that’s a long ways away. Right now, I’m focused on my team.”

The Hawks were knocked out of the playoffs during Cowart’s sophomore season, and last year they lost to Miami Central in the title game.

Cowart is pushing for Armwood to get back to its 2011 form.

“I’ve been there, and I know what it takes to win a championship,” he said. “The biggest thing is taking it one step at a time and being fundamentally sound.

“We know where we want to be when December comes. We don’t really dwell on last season, we just remember what happened and feed off it. I’m hungry for another ring.”

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  1. Would love to have him but for the life of me I can’t figure out why he has Oregon out front. They don’t send THAT many players to the nfl. Is it the flashy uni’s??? Cmon & play with Cece & do big things in Gainesville!!! You 2 would definitely compete for multiple championships. GO GATORS!!!

  2. We just put an injured DT/DE in the first round. We have the coach that helped Clowney to his 2 best seasons. And Belichick loves Gators. I think we’re the best option for a DL to go first round right now, and we’re on the upswing to win championships again with what’s being built. Go Gators!

  3. Oregon makes sense I guess. Team owner (Nike) takes good care of its players and coaches. Goes all out making sure the Nike brand is felt throughout their upgraded facilities. They do a great job. Florida makes a little more sense relationship and marketing wise to me. Florida has a pipeline with the Patriots, Miami and others that will always give you a chance to prove yourself. First round DE/DT Easley 2014 draft is prof of that fact. Good luck Mr. Cowart. Go Gators!

  4. UF will probably get Cowart if there is a marked improvement on the field. As for championships, the only ones the Gators have had since Tebow left are an Outback and Gator Bowl. It’s been four years since the Gators have won anything significant like the SEC East. The only significant win is an upset of FSU a couple of years ago. Remember how the supposed best class of all time was supposed to win multiple championships? I’m speaking of the class with Elam, Easley, Floyd, etc. The Gators have a chance to again compete and win championships, the defense is good may be close to becoming great again. They need to step up and force turnovers and mot falter like they did last year when the game was on the line. The biggest reason why the Gators have not won any championships since Tebow left is the lack of talent at the quarterback position. If you have a good quarterback, you have a chance. The big question is the same as the past few years, do the Gators have a decent quarterback? It’s pretty clear that the guy many people were hailing as the anointed one, Grier, is not him, at least not this year. The reports of Mornhinweg’s transfer were premature since he is clearly the backup right now. Maybe Treon Harris will be the guy in the Fall. That leaves the Gators with Jeff Driskel. Maybe he’ll get better, but I doubt it because a new coach is not going to change his head and we’ve seen him run the spread in the Sugar Bowl. Is it any wonder Pease didn’t return to the spread last season after seeing how Driskel stunk it up in the Sugar Bowl? He was so bad that Brissett transferred because he couldn’t understand why UF kept playing a guy that was so obviously bad. I don’t blame the coaches, it’s hard to have a good offense if your quarterback stinks. So the same question still remains unanswered, will the Gators have a quarterback that is any good in 2014?

  5. I think it’s a fact that UF has not had a good quarterback since Tebow. I’m not one to hide my head in the sand and ignore the obvious. I don’t know if there is an offensive coordinator that would do well when he ha Brantley, Driskel, or Murphy to lead the offense. There’s no question that Urban Meyer is a great coach, but the Gators finished 82nd in total offense when he had Brantley as his starter at quarterback. That’s a higher finish than Muschamp has mustered, but Meyer is a much better coach. The Gators have struggled at quarterback, that’s a fact and ignoring this unpleasant truth is only being delusional.

  6. Acting like Driskel has failed or been terrible since he’s been here, while not being able to point out one solid piece of evidence or any sort of proof is delusional. Heck can’t even watch a simple 10 minute video showing all of Driskel’s plays and just Driskel’s plays and then discuss it. When someone on here is actually able to bring in any evidence to refute the stats, plays, and videos that I have brought up (along with the expertise of Kurt Roper), then you might stand a chance of convincing me Driskel is bad. But if you just come with the same sorry opinions and accusations with nothing to back them up, well then I can’t exactly take you seriously now can I? As a starter Driskel is 11-3 (most of that during one of Florida’s most difficult schedules). Yeah really impossible to win with this guy. smh

  7. As for Brantley I think history will see him as more of a victim than a bad QB. Obviously Meyer’s last years here he screwed the pooch and sent everything downhill. This included a lack of development of certain non favorites like Brantley. Also he forced Brantley to try to do things that weren’t in his wheelhouse. Having a pocket passer like Brantley run a spread option is about the worst idea ever. Even worse than making a spread option QB run the pro offense. Then Meyer left and in came Muschamp and Weis. If you go back and watch that season Brantley actually did really well until he got injured against Alabama. Heck even in the Alabama game before the injury he as playing pretty well. But after that injury he didn’t trust his O line anymore, it affected his head, and he sucked from there on out. I think if Brantley had gone anywhere else he’d have succeeded. I could be wrong, but that’s my opinion. He was a victim of Meyer and poor O line play and deserves not to have his name dragged in the mud by people who’ve never even played the game before in their lives.

  8. by That_UAT_Guy It’s utterly amazing how the reason that a player doesn’t play well is always something other than the player. Roper, the guy you think is the answer to all UF’s woes on offense, himself said that it doesn’t matter what scheme is run for a good quarterback to perform well. When you now blame the coaches for Brantley it shows that you don’t have a clue. It’s pretty easy to see why you think Driskel is a good quarterback because it’s not his fault, it’s the scheme, the offensive line, the recievers, etc. It isn’t possible in your mind that the reason Driskel’s average game is when he throws for 150 yards. You are delusional, and the best example of that is that you actually think Driskel played well against Miami by citing statistics. He was awful and continued the trend against Tennessee until his season mercifully, was ended. What’s your excuse for him in the Sugar Bowl? UF ran the spread in that game, the miracle cure you seem to think Roper is running, and Driskel was horrible. Sometime you have to quit blaming other people and place the blame where it’s warranted, on the player.

  9. It’s hilarious that you call me delusional, while not giving any proof or anything. I can admit when players just aren’t playing well. I just think 1 (just ONE if you care to read) for ONE year was on Meyer and Meyer did do a LOT wrong. I also believe Driskel is good. And I have given evidence to this point. I will not argue though because you will continue not to give any evidence and continue to say I’m stupid for giving evidence. I cannot take you seriously until you can produce evidence. Until then your word merits nothing more than those of angry fanboys rantings on the web.

  10. Not true. No matter what Driskel does there will be people, like snowprint, that will still claim he sucks. And Brissett has a chance to prove he’s better than Driskel right now, but it doesn’t prove the competition was rigged or that Brissett was better at the time. Brissett could end up being better while Driskel could’ve been the better one at the time. Stranger things happen. Guys develop differently and at different rates. And the QBs are in two completely different situations/ This year we can finally put to rest whether the offensive problems is on Muschamp or Pease, but judging who was better when is a different tory.

  11. It is not physical with Driskel. He has all the physical tools he needs to be a very good QB. The challenge so far for Driskel has been mental, or the inability to read defenses and make quick reads and decisions on the football field. Part of the poor OL play has been Driskel’s inability to get the ball out to his receivers in a timely manner (and the WRs have not helped him in the pass either). I am just hoping that coach Roper will help him overcome that challenge successfully this year. If he doesn’t, the Gators will not be challenge for titles this year. I am sure Alabama will throw the “defensive confusion book” at Driskel in game four. That will be his watermark game for sure. But we probably will know if he is up for the Saban challenge before that game ever starts by watching if he makes quick reads and decisions in the passing game in games one through three. Go Gators.