Florida played three true freshman offensive linemen last weekend at Kentucky and did it again Saturday against Tennessee.
That has the attention of Marcus Tatum, one of UF’s top tackle targets for 2016.
“I noticed that coach (Mike) Summers plays a lot of his freshmen early,” Tatum said. “He rotates everybody. It’s not just one set group of people. There’s constant rotating.
“That was pretty cool to see. I don’t want to be guaranteed playing time, but it’s good to see he gives you a shot and a chance. That’s all that really matters.”
The 6-foot-6, 254-pounder from Daytona Beach Mainland is rated a three-star prospect but has more than 20 offers, including Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi.
Florida and Tennessee are his top two schools, so he was anxious to see them face off in The Swamp. Tatum had never attended a Gators game.
“It was real good,” he said. “I enjoyed myself a lot. And it was good for mom. She really enjoyed herself, too. She really liked it. She likes the atmosphere.
“She doesn’t care about football, so she just likes looking at the people. She was really impressed with the (UF) fans and coaches.”
Tatum and his mother took time to meet with the coaching staff following Florida’s thrilling 28-27 win.
“They told me that they want me here and that they love me,” Tatum said. “They told me to enjoy myself and enjoy the atmosphere and soak it in.”
The Gators overcame a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to extend their winning steak against Tennessee to 11 games. Tatum was impressed with the late offensive explosion.
“It’s really nice that their passing attack has turned a lot more,” he said. “Before, they probably would’ve lost and just gave up. To see the new atmosphere, it looks like a brand new team out there.”
Tatum plans to take official visits to Florida and Tennessee but doesn’t have dates set. He said his decision will come before signing day.
“Whenever I’m ready,” Tatum said. “The main thing was always academics, but a lot of my favorite schools don’t have the right courses for me. So it’s really just comfortably with the program and making it feel like home.”
Due to that determining factor, the Gators currently have the lead for Tatum over the Vols.
“It’s really just a home away from home,” Tatum said of UF. “It’s right down the street. I love all the coaches here. I talk to them all the time. It’s not just the offensive coaches.
“Chris Rumph is one of my favorite coaches and he’s not even my position coach. That’s one of the good things about Florida.”