Familiar faces help the Florida Gators chances with Hunter

The Florida Gators had two really good defensive backs on campus Monday, including one of the top rated safeties in the country.

Safety is one of, if not the top priority this fall and safety Devon Hunter (6-1, 205, Chesapeake, VA Indian River) is one of the top targets and he liked his visit to Florida on Monday.

“It was good visit,” Hunter said. “I got to go watch practice, meet the coaching staff, hang out with the players and tour the campus. Practice was great and for the short amount of time they were out there they were going fast. I know that when I go to college that I’m going to have to be fit for practice.”

Hunter paid a lot of attention to defensive backs coach Torrian Gray and the secondary during practice.

“Coach Gray’s coaching style is very unique,” he said. “He focuses on fundamentals and teaching the position. He has a great relationship with his players so they listen to him when he’s teaching the position and they stay after practice and just talk with each other.”

Unlike most prospects, Hunter is very familiar with Gray as the two have known each other for years now.

“I’ve known Coach Gray since my 8th grade year when he was recruiting me at Virginia Tech,” Hunter said. “We have a really good relationship and we don’t just talk football we talk about life and my family. He’s someone that I can talk to about anything and at any time.”

Gray isn’t the only coach with connections to Hunter, quality control coach Mark DeBastiani has a very close relationship with the safety.

“I’ve known Coach DeBastiani for a long time, he’s a like a second dad to me,” he said. “I played on the same high school team as his son Ben so I used to go over to their house and play games and watch football with them. It was really nice to see him and when he got the job at Florida, it really opened my eyes to them. If I do decide to go to Florida there would be some people down there that I’m comfortable with to help me since I would be away from home.”

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain had the chance to finally meet the safety and delivered a message that caught Hunter’s attention.

“Coach McElwain told me that I’m in a great position if I want to play early,” Hunter said. “He told me that I’m on the top of their board at safety and that they have some guys leaving after this year, so I have the opportunity to come and play as a true freshman. There is a big opportunity for me if I choose there.”

Gray doesn’t have to sell Hunter on much, but he did back up McElwain’s statement of early playing time.

“Coach Gray pretty much had the same message except he talked to me like friends,” he said. “He told me that if I want to ball and play early then come play ball for the Gators. He wants to coach me at Florida.”

Hunter grew up watching the Florida Gators but he never thought he would have the chance to play as a true freshman in the SEC.

“It really caught my attention to know that I have the chance to not only play in the SEC but to play as a true freshman,” Hunter said. “Florida is known for putting DB’s in the league in either the first or second round so what’s not to like about it.”

The Virginia prospect obviously had interest in the Gators since he visited, but he says Florida helped their cause on Monday.

“The visit really helped Florida out a lot,” he said. “The chance to play early, plus all of the connections they have after graduation is something else that I like. I liked the coaching staff too.”

Hunter, who has offers from about every big school, is in no hurry to make a college decision but he does have plans to return to Gainesville.

“I don’t have any leaders and I’m thinking about deciding after I take my official visits but I might graduate early so I’m not sure,” Hunter said. “I plan to come back down this summer with Coach Debastiani’s son so we can hang out because he comes down a lot.”

INSIDERS TAKE: The Gators have a legit shot with Hunter after a great visit, but the key is to continue to get the safety on campus as much as they can. Hunter doesn’t plan to narrow down his list until this fall.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.