Cowart leaves UF visit early

Byron Cowart will decide between Auburn and Florida on signing day. (Photo by Zach Abolverdi/The Gainesville Sun)

Official visits can last no longer than 48 hours on a college campus for recruits, but five-star defensive end Byron Cowart only spent a fourth of that time at Florida this weekend.

Cowart, who is ranked the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect by ESPN and Rivals, didn’t arrive in Gainesville for his official visit until shortly after midnight Saturday due to his basketball game Friday night.

But less than 12 hours later, Cowart and his mother left for Tampa at noon. According to ESPN’s Derek Tyson, his mom was called in to work.

Calls and texts made to Cowart by The Sun were not immediately returned Saturday. Tyson and sources close to The Sun said Cowart told the UF coaching staff heading into the weekend there was a chance his trip would be cut short.

Now, Cowart could have chosen to stay in Gainesville despite his mother having to leave early and just got a ride back home Sunday. However, he told The Sun beforehand his only reason for taking the visit was his mom.

Sources told The Sun his mother spent all morning with the coaches Saturday, much like they on the first day of the contact period. Once her meeting was finished and she had to go in to work, perhaps Cowart felt he didn’t need to stay.

There’s no denying it would have been beneficial for Florida to have him on campus all weekend, and that missed time could hurt Jim McElwain and his staff down the stretch. But his early departure from the visit doesn’t appear to be a result of him or his mom not enjoying their trip.

Cowart addressed the situation on Twitter following the visit.

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  1. Cowart doesn’t need to spend any more time at UF. He’s been there plenty of times and him cutting his visit short is meaningless. Who knows, but I still say he’s picking UF, and that he’s always been coming to UF but just wanted attention. One thing is true, though, we have less than two weeks to go before we can stop paying attention to these drama queens.

  2. I hope he already a gd silent commit and all he needed was for his mother to meet the coaches and give her approval. If that is not the case then forget cowart abd maybe a couple of friends. I am holding out ines that he has made up his mind to be a gator, early playing time a quality edu. GO GATORS////

  3. Cowart explained himself well on his tweeter account. Decides on Feb 4. I am sure he is torn between his strong interest in Florida and his relationship with Muschamp. I do wonder how Lawing will fit into all this, but I think he wants to play in the SEC. Kid has a tough choice and he has to do what is right for him and his family. But Gainesville is a short ride for his mom to see him play.

  4. It’s not ideal that he left early, but totally understandable. He’s been to UF plenty of times and the most important thing is that his mom got to meet the coaches. He seems like a smart kid and will make the best decision for him and his family.

  5. Don’t know anything about Cowart’s mother except that he looks to her for guidance and trusts her judgment. Not sure what his short stay means for his recruitment. Still a Gator February 4, I’m hoping.

  6. Every year someone on these boards calls these athletes “prima donnas” and “drama queens”, etc when really they are just teenagers being pulled in a dozen directions trying to make the biggest decision of their lives so far. Don’t forget that some of our best and most loyal Gators (Matt Elam, Dante Fowler to name two) struggled or toyed with their decisions and were castigated by people for not making their decisions public.

  7. Cowart’s own post reflects a maturity and perspective that deserves respect. He clearly remains very interested in Florida. He ‘s apparently closing down his active search to talk with those closest to him, pray and come to a decision best for him. Hooray for Byron Cowart!

  8. At this point I would be amazed if this kid comes here. If you love a school so much why leave after 12 hours, probably 7-8 were him sleeping. Doubt he is a silent to FSU since Lawing just got hired, I think he’s headed to Auburn ( thanks Muschamp you’ve done more to destroy the Florida brand then the NCAA) with his comments last weekend. Can’t blame him with the mess Muschamp left. In three years he’ll be in the pros and we’ll forget about how close we were to get him.

  9. If all these fsu wannabe trolls were really that much in the know, they wouldn’t be pathetic enough to mouth off to us on our site. They really need to get a life. Coach Mac and his staff are awesome and UF will always be the flagship school in the state of Florida. We’ll be just fine in the long run. Go gators! PS, DC looked awesome against the ducks. Jokes on them. Ha ha. 🙂

  10. I think he wants to come but you start devolving relationships mainly in their sophomore years, with that being the case he may not be willing to go through 3 years of being on an irrevelent team, not saying we’ll be relevent in 3, it’ll take 5 IF McElwain is any good.

  11. Not one single player can define a program.
    Players come to Florida because they want
    to be a part of something special. No matter
    who decides to come be a part of Gator
    Nation. Wether it’s Cowart, Ivey, Jefferson or
    even all three. Gator Nation is a special place
    and will be at the top again soon.

  12. Its tough to make up that much ground in such a short period of time. He is a great player and it would be great to get him. He will make the choice that is best for him and his family. I’ll say this. This group of coaches is second to none. I’d put them up against anyone. I’ll bet these coaches will be here longer than Muschamp and T-Rob will be at Auburn. I keep hearing idiots say the coach doesn’t have name recognition and hasn’t done much. I’m troubled our fans are that stupid. Mac only won 2 Nat’l Championships and was named conference coach of the year in his last 2 stops. There is no coach in the country with that resume. These are probably the same fools who complained when we hired that coach from Utah who won us 2 Natty’s…classic. We will close come NSD with some good kids that will help us win… Go Gators!

  13. Here’s an interesting coaching resume: three years, records of 5-6, 7-3-1, and 8-4 including a bowl loss. When Steve Spurrier came home to UF from Duke we Gators were ecstatic. Elsewhere his hiring was panned. He played too much golf, went home for dinner with his family, slept at home instead of the office, was still asleep when Gene Stallings and other SEC coaches were at work in the pre-dawn hours. Spurrier passed the ball too much, they said, and he had no grasp of defense. A dozen years later Coach Orr had entirely altered the SEC, changed the way offense was played, had coached two of the best running backs in Florida history, and sent more defensive players to the NFL than offensive. Mac’s three years at Colorado State are eerily similar to Spurrier’s at Duke.

  14. I hate to say I told you so….but we ain’t getting any 4 or 5 star recruits that are left. I have been saying it for months but all I get is how negative I am….I am right! Who cares if I’m negative what should I be doing ? Having a party that we are now ranked 88th in the nation! PANIC MODE do you believe me now. Sorry but I don’t want to be right, I swear….it’s just I know what I see with my own eyes, UF is not a very attractive place to be right now. Yikes

  15. And James Fisher…as much as I hate you, you are right. I see it, my fellow Gator fans are just blind….I have no idea what they are thinking. It’s great to be optimistic but please be realistic. We blew it coaching wise, we are blowing recruiting wise, and we are going to suffer for a long time because of it.

  16. The big three will play early and often at Florida
    Why wouldn’t they come to Gator nation?
    I’ll go ahead ahead and call it.
    The big three will sign with Florida because they want to be
    part of a something special that is gonna happen at Gator Nation.

  17. The coaching staff is taking a shotgun approach and blitzing a large group of quality prospects in order to get the best possible results/talent. In this environment an analysis of the quality of the players we do get can not being even guessed at with any accuracy. Take a breath, sit back and wait for signing day. It is not that far away! Cool your jets!

  18. Primo needs to stay in his mom’s basement with fisher…..your comments truly show you know zero about college athletics pertaining to recruiting. Keep your mouth shut and let people think optimistically if they want to.

  19. If you’re freaking out about this then you haven’t been around recruiting long. Not a big deal. Could have left within an hour and signed with Florida. Could’ve stayed all weekend and signed with Auburn. There is no secret sign in this. He’s been to Florida more than enough. The biggest reason to visit is building a relationship with the coaches and let his mom meet them. And I guarantee you the coaches will go visit them at LEAST 1 more time.

  20. Johnny Frasier, a running back, flipped from FSU to N.C. State today. Now it’s more interesting for Miami pledge, Jordan Scarlett, who UF desperately wants and FSU now has room for. Will he stick with Miami or pick FSU or Florida?

  21. Cowart seems like a thoughtful, intelligent young man. I appreciate the fact that he communicated what happened with his mother and for that he gains even more of my respect. The fact that he is going to pray and seek counsel from his mother impresses me even more. UF has much more to offer in terms of campus and off campus life than FSU and Auburn combined…UF has better weather, and is strategically located to much better places to recreate, visit for fun. My daughter is in Tally and I can tell you she is there only because she has to be (couldn’t get into UF). She grew up going to G-ville and knows how great the city and campus are. Byron sees this and wants to make sure the program is a fit as well. He will be the next Gator Great!!!!!’

  22. Don’t know, can’t tell with Byron Cowart. His Mom got. “Called in to work,” so she had to head back home early . They moved into a new home this weekend or last week. So he did the responsible thing, reflecting his maturity, sound judgment and sense of responsibility. He put his mother ahead of himself. He’s a deeply, genuinely young man of particular Christian faith, which runs thematically throughout his communications. He says he ‘s going to set recruiting aside this last week to talk with his family, especially his mother, and to pray. I sure hope he becomes a Gator and have a hunch he will. He’s pulled for Florida a very long time and doesn’t seem to be a young man who easily changes what’s in his heart or makes poor, let alone flighty, decisions.

  23. Every year its the same thing with everyone trying to read the proverbial tea leaves of a coveted Gator Football Recruit and of course BC and his mother are this years version. With BC now going silent til NSD and looking inward to GOD for guidance on his decision this should be easy. After all, isn’t GOD a GATOR?

  24. Wow, everyone needs to calm down. Yes, it does not sound good for UF that he left early. However, this is just ONE recruiting class. Go back and look at the class Saban had when he first got to Bama, go look at Urban’s first class at UF, look at the class that golden boy Harbaugh currently has at Michigan… it is really difficult for coaches (even GREAT coaches) to relate and get kids to commit to their school in the first season. When the kids see that Coach Mac and staff can actually coach (unlike our previous coaching staff) things will take care of themselves.

    It would be great if we could get some of these top targets this year. However, I am not going to over react to one recruiting class. These are 18 year old kids having to make tough choices. IMO, the fact that they are even considering us after our last few seasons should be positive.

  25. @ntcrze Gatormac never said anything about “Christian faith” equating to being a good football player. All he said was that his explanation on his Twitter account held true to the type of interviews he’s done in the past and seems to be very genuine about it. Read for meaning bud. Also, please stop responding to the “trolls”. They continue to post cause they get a rise out of you fools!

    Here’s to Byron choosing the Gators! I just hope for Byron’s sake it’s about Auburn and not Muschamp. School>Coach. In theory Muschamp could be gone by years end.

  26. Having a defensive mastermind as Shannon on board should excite any defensive player recruit. As Ce Ce said, recruiting the big 3 would turn around any football program. At the end, if you are a real gator fan and bleed orange and blue then your desire will be to be part of this project. We want players that will play their hearts out when wearing the GATORS’ helmet no matter how bad things look…. ask D. Fowler!! Goo Gators!!!

  27. I doubt Cowart needed to see additional program enticements. He pretty much has seen it all. Either he comes to UF or chooses to go elsewhere and there’s not much we can do. If he wants to make a difference in the landscape of football, UF would be a great place for him. He’s in a pretty unique position like many young superstars. I hope he thinks about how he will be remembered. An outstanding player that chose a program outside his State of loyal supporters or a young man dedicated to making his State the best if can be. Go Gators!

  28. Guys!!!!!! Miami has NOTHING to offer!!!! They have NO stadium, NO fans in the seats and about to lose their coach and they finished 6-7 and going downhill!!!! WE have our new staff in place and have the swamp and 90,000 fans in the SEC!!!!!! Good Grief…Watch them Miami and some other Flips by Feb 5!!!! Go Gators!!!! Coach mac and staff know what they are doing!!!! Randy Shannon is the quiet ace in the hole who will Flip those Miami recruits!!!!! Watch Feb 5!!!!
    Go gators-Bob in Jupiter

  29. Yo Bob in Jupiter we get it, Miami sucks we will probably flip both Scarlett ad StLouis? from them. Most folks here are concerned about Auburn and the big 4 of Cowart, Jefferson, Ivey and Holland.
    We should all chill out. I think we will get Ivey and lose the other 3 thanks to Chump and TRob. Who cares we will be fine in the long run with the current staff.
    Primo is the
    Negative Nancy of the blog, a criminole in drag, don’t let him upset you.
    James Fischer is another semihole idiot trying to rile us up but we all see through him, his team is going down, the Oregon beat down was just the beginning.
    Gator Nation will survive and thrive even with a low rated recruiting class in 2015.
    No worries and Go Gators!

  30. Marcus Mariota and RGIII were 3 star recruits; no one ever heard of Tom Brady in high school or Michigan for that matter; Spurrier, Meyer, and Muschamp never signed a 5 star recruit in their first year; Chris Walker and Kasey Hill were labeled as McDonald’s All Americans coming out of high school, how’s that working out? You never know what kind of athlete you’re getting based on stars and other high school labels. After their 1992 National Championship, Alabama never won another until 2009. FSU went from 1999-2012 without a title; who knows the Gators future, it’s all a crap shoot.

  31. I know in the past there was a lot of complaining about “When was the last time we got a recruit out of Miami?” Well now the answer to that question is today. Thank you Randy Shannon. And may we see plenty more of those


  33. Hi, ntcrze! Being a person of Christian faith does not have a necessary bearing on what kind of football player Byron Cowart is, though it certainly shaped Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow and Wes Chandler, too. My reference to Cowart ‘s faith was linked only to his declaration that he is out of the recruiting loop this next week which is going to include prayer. I believe him re: his intention to pray. That just means to me that he is genuinely , earnestly assessing his decision and has a plan for doing so. And that he didn’t flippantly leave Florida. He ‘s taking UF seriously in the way most appropriate to him and I respect him in doing so.

  34. For the person who asked what “Christian Faith” has to do with playing football? Are you serious? Without getting into a theological discussion on this blog the answer is everything.
    For all the nay Sayers out there of which it appears to be many,the University of Florida football program will be fine. Good athletes will sign and we will bounce back. CWM will do his job which is to get these same youngmen to attend Auburn his employer. We will win some and lose some,and ALL these young with help from their families and faith an prayers will make the best choice for themselves.

  35. Unless something changes tomorrow, it appears that UF again whiffed badly on it’s big recruiting weekend. UF had room for nineteen and picked up only one pledge, Jackson, a linebacker from Miami. Perhaps UF can flip a lineman from Syracuse in the next couple of days, but other than that it looks like UF is still going to be way off on filling this class. Signing day is less than two weeks away, and we still don’t have a clue who’s going to make up the bulk of it. Will UF go into the last weekend left before the dead period and signing day with only around ten commits? UF has nine now, with two of them already enrolled. That leaves eighteen more to go, provided that guys like Dillon and Horton don’t flip to other schools. It’s to the point that a former commit, Tristan Payton, chooses UCF over the Gators. A receiver chise Vandy over Florida. This ‘huge’ recruiting weekend has been a dud.

  36. @Fisher, I know where you ALWAYS come from so I personally don’t really pay you any attention. Maybe I’m just not smart enough to understand your post. I can’t imagine how you came up with the “dictatorial comment and things passing through me. Since you didn’t get it the first time , I won’t try to explain it. One day when you get to that level you will think”oh that’s what he was talking about”! Don’t worry one day you will get there, if I’m below your level you will fall down that far sooner or later. I actually think it’s going to be a high climb and a long time before it happens, so maybe you should ask aux2 or Primo to help you out with this one. GO GATORS!!!!

  37. Like it or not, we need to look highly on this kid. Yes, leaving early is not a good sign but to have the devotion to commitments IS a good thing. We get his, we’ll be lucky, VERY lucky because he does NOT seem to be a cancerous element.

    Talent is important but cohesive chemistry is often under looked.

  38. 5-star recruits don’t always mean wins. See Jeff Driskel, the No. 1 rated QB coming out of HS. What was his record at UF the last 2 years? It’s not recruits who win, it’s how they become players under the right coaches that win. Recruiting lists and ratings are a joke. Tom Brady wasn’t even rated out of high school, and got beat out at Michigan by Brian Greise. Could care less if the kid comes here or not.

  39. Let him go to Auburn with Muschamp and play on. Muschamp truly did nothing for Florida and the players. He basically destroyed the team by his coaching style and lack of change. There were less players going to the NFL under him in the past years than the past 15-20.

    We needed a fresh start and I beleive we got one. Even though this year we should of had a better requiting class. Let’s all be happy with what we received and move on. Next year will be a heck of lot better.
    Go Gators