The Gators are still looking to add some defensive tackles to their 2016 class, and two of the nation’s top prospects at the position visited UF in recent days.
U.S. Army All-American Antwuan Jackson (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) camped at UF on Monday, and consensus top-250 recruit Darius Whitfield (Mobile, Ala./St. Paul’s) made it to campus Saturday.
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Jackson chose to work out despite competing in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge over the weekend.
“I just came to get better at the camp and just see the new coaches that are here now,” Jackson said. “They were really calm and acted like themselves. Florida has been recruiting me hard since the new coaches have been here. They called me on day one.”
Florida defensive line coach Chris Rumph is leading the charge in Jackson’s recruitment and has been after the top-100 prospect for years.
“I’ve been knowing coach Rumph since my ninth grade year, when he was at Alabama,” Jackson said. “We still have a strong relationship. He’s a great coach. He talks very loud when he coaches, but he teaches great techniques. That’s what I love about him. He doesn’t tell you how great you are, he just tries his best to bring it out of you.”
Whitfield, like Jackson, wanted to get down to Gainesville and check out the new staff.
“I’ve always liked Florida,” Whitfield said. “I just like the atmosphere and the coaches are really cool. I’m just starting to build a relationship with them.
“I feel like they want me a lot. They told me with my size and my speed, I’m real athletic and I’m relentless when I rush the passer and stop the run. That means a lot coming from this staff, especially the defensive line coach.”
Rumph is also personally recruiting the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Whitfield, who admits he needs to communicate with him more.
“He got on me today because I don’t always hit him back when he calls me,” Whitfield said. “I’m going to get better with that. Coach Rumph, he’s just crazy as ever. But I like his personality and his coaching style. He’s a fun guy to just hang out with and talk football.”
Jackson, who holds 42 offers, will announce his finalists in late July or early August and commit during his senior season. He said Georgia, Auburn and Ohio State currently stand out to him, but his visit to Florida helped the Gators’ chances.
“Most definitely. I’ve been liking the Florida Gators, I just needed to come back down here,” said Jackson, who plans to make a return trip. “I want to see more of the academics and the campus and just get a feel for the community and the fans (at UF).”
Whitfield lists the Gators as one of his top 8 teams and said Florida, Miami and South Carolina are recruiting him the hardest. He would like to decide on signing day and said his most important factors are academics and playing time.
“I did my research on Florida, and their academic program is amazing,” said Whitfield, who will attend a UF home game this fall. “That’s one thing my mom always stresses with me. That’s going to be No. 1 wherever I go as far as picking a school. As far as playing time, I feel I can come to Florida and contribute early.”