The Florida Gators football offices were packed on Friday as dozens of prospects visited Gainesville to meet with the coaching staff and watch the spring game.
One of those prospects on campus was Alabama offensive line commit Alex Leatherwood (6-5, 298, Pensacola, FL Washington)
“The visit was good, I had a great time with Coach [Mike] Summers and Coach [Jim McElwain] Mac,” Leatherwood said of his Florida visit on Friday. “I got to meet with both of those coaches and spend a lot of time around them. I got to see how I would fit into the offense if I went there.”
Leatherwood, who didn’t get to stay for the spring game, got plenty of time to talk with the coaches and that included a long talk with McElwain.
“Coach McElwain told me to represent my home state,” he said. “He said that he needed me to come in and make a big impact early on at tackle. That meant a lot to hear that from him because Florida is a program coming back up. It would be honor to do that and kind of hit home with me.”
Offensive line coach Mike Summers has made Leatherwood a priority and Friday’s visit with the coach was a key one according to the offensive lineman.
“Coach Summers basically said the same thing about needing me at Florida,” Leatherwood said. “I talk on the phone with him every week so we talk a lot about needing me, but our talk yesterday [Friday] was the icing on the cake for me because I got to the chance to spend a lot of one-on-one time with him. I got to see how he coaches and handles himself.”
Summers has made it clear to Leatherwood that he’s not only wanted in Gainesville but needed in the Orange and Blue next year.
“He said that they’re thin at the tackle position and they’re going to need one this upcoming year,” he said of Summers’ message. “They’re down at the position and that’s something I noticed on the depth chart for myself.”
Leatherwood, who has watched and followed the Florida Gators for years now, has looked up to one of the Gators lineman since he arrived on campus, and the two got to meet on Friday.
“I got to talk to Martez [Ivey] during the trip, he was just like ‘be a Gator,’ he’s a cool dude,” Leatherwood said. “Martez was the number one offensive tackle in 2015, so I could learn a lot from him by playing next to him. He’s just a cool dude overall and someone that I look up too.”
Heading into the visit Alabama had been considered to have locked up Leatherwood, but the lineman is leaving the door open for two other teams.
“Florida is tied with LSU at second behind Alabama right now,” he said. “There is nothing I really need to see from them but I’m just looking to put all of the pieces together and make the right decision. I’m just trying to make the best decision for me. They just need to keep recruiting me.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Leatherwood says he plans to early enrollee in college but says his decision will go into the fall when he takes his official visits. Florida is definitely in the mix here and will battle Alabama down the stretch next fall.