Heading into the week there were some questions as to how many Florida prospects would be on the Florida Gators recruiting visitors list because of the hurricane but many from the heavy impacted areas still made it to town.
One of those came from the center of the state when offensive lineman William Barnes (6-4, 312, Apopka, FL. High) visited Gainesville and the atmosphere in the Swamp really caught his attention.
“That was definitely the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” Barnes said of his visit. “I was down there in the endzone when Tyrie [Cleveland] caught that pass. I was down there with all of the fans just dancing and jumping around. It was just the greatest feeling I’ve had in awhile.”
“It opened my eyes up about Florida, the fans are just fantastic people.”
The offensive display for much of the game was shaky but Barnes liked how the Gators responded in the fourth quarter.
“They never stopped or held their head down,” he said of Florida’s offense. “Even though it seemed like every fourth down there were off the field, they just kept on fighting for it and they got the win.”
Being an offensive lineman Barnes watched the Gators offensive line and he gave them praise for Saturday’s performance.
“They struggled at times but all offensive line do,” Barnes said of Florida’s offensive line. “I think they just kept working together and didn’t make any excuses or fall a part. I think they did pretty good.
Offensive line coach Brad Davis got the chance to talk to Barnes pre and post game and made sure he knew where the place to be was at.
“He was telling me how this is a great environment, he said this is it right here,” he said on what Brad Davis told him. “He said ‘I told you I wasn’t coming out with a loss today.’ I believed in him and they got that win.”
Barnes also got the chance to see Davis’ coach in game and he was impressed by the Gators assistant coach.
“In game situations he stays calm and doesn’t freak out,” Barnes said of Davis’ in game coaching style. “He stays in control with the offensive line, I was just watching him do his thing. I just think he’s a great coach.”
Florida has always been one of the top teams for Barnes but he says Saturday really helped the Gators chances with him.
“It definitely bumped them up a lot more,” he said on what this visit did for Florida. “Talking with the coaches and players, it definitely feels a lot more like home every time I come here.”
This likely won’t be the last game for Barnes to be in the Swamp either as the offensive lineman is already looking at another visit.
“Either the Florida State game or something like that,” Barnes said on when he will return to Florida. “I kind of want to go to one Clemson game. I’m still thinking about it with the family.”
Barnes is also already thinking about what official visits he will take this year and he knows two schools that will get one.
“Most likely UNC, definitely Florida,” he said on official visits. “Those are the two that I definitely want to get too. I want to take a couple in season and then a couple after.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Barnes says he still plans to announce his decision on signing day and it still seems like a Florida/UNC battle for his commitment. Getting Barnes on campus more is a key for the Gators.