If the energetic and intense Tim Davis still coached the offensive line at Florida, the Gators might not have a shot at fast-rising guard Jalen Merrick.
The 6-foot-5, 317-pounder from New Smyrna Beach is currently unrated by ESPN and a three-star prospect on every other site, but his list of 33 offers consists of several elite football programs, including Alabama, LSU and Ohio State.
All the in-state schools have offered as well, and Merrick camped at UF this past Saturday.
“It was a great visit,” he said. “I definitely got better this camp session. It was great working with coach (Mike) Summers.”
The soft-spoken Merrick took well to Summers’ coaching style.
“He’s a real calm coach,” Merrick said. “He really tries to push you to get better and really push you to your limits. If you mess up, he’s not going to bash you. … Most (O-line coaches) are really loud and in your ear, but he’s really just trying to help you get better and be the best that you can be.”
Merrick was offered by Florida on March 26 after attending spring practice, and that trip to Gainesville also stood out to him.
“It was great,” he said. “It was really one of my first practices that I’ve ever seen, and it was really organized. I like the way they run things around here.
“I really like their coaching staff and where the program is going with coach Muschamp here, and also the facilities and the players that they have now. I feel like we just have a really good relationship.”
UF offensive lineman commit Tyler Jordan also visited UF last weekend and gave his pitch to Merrick during the camp.
“He was trying to recruit everybody,” Merrick said of Jordan. “He was like, ‘You should be a Gator. This is the place for you.’ Now that I’ve looked, it is a good place to be. I plan to make my decision pretty soon after I go on a couple more visits.”
Merrick wants to take trips to Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State and South Carolina, and will then decide between Florida and those schools before his senior season. He also would like to return to UF prior to his commitment.
“I’d like to see a lot more,” Merrick said. “I’m definitely going to come back throughout the recruiting process until I narrow things down.”