Schools are not allowed to bring prospect in on visits for neutral site games, so neither the Florida Gators nor Georgia Bulldogs had the opportunity to do that on Saturday.
Florida did however have one of its commits in the stands though. New defensive end commit Antonneous Clayton (6-4, 218, Vienna, GA Dooly County) and his uncle bought tickets to attend the game and watch the Gators beat down the Dawgs.
“It was a blast man, I really enjoyed it,” Clayton said of the Florida-Georgia game. “I was definitely imagining myself out there at this time next year. It was a great atmosphere out there.”
Clayton also had a memorable experience in Jacksonville because he bumped into former Florida Gators defensive end Dante Fowler while walking out of the game on Saturday.
“It was amazing to run into Dante Fowler at the game in the stands,” he said. “He gave me some tips about being successful at defensive end. He was giving me some tips about coming off the edge as a rush end. It was just welcoming to hear an NFL player telling me those things.”
All of the previous mentioned events took place just days after Clayton surprised the Florida Gators coaches with his commitment on Wednesday morning at 7 A.M and it was a decision that Clayton just felt right making.
“The opportunity at Florida is what made me decide to go ahead and commit to Florida,” Clayton said. “It’s not that far from home so my family will be able to come watch me play and I’ll get a great education honestly. Just being able to embrace the opportunity there. Alex McCalister may enter the draft this year so that might leave me an opportunity to start as a true freshman.”
Clayton and his uncle both told Gator Country on Wednesday that a big reason he picked Florida was because of how comfortable Clayton was in Gainesville and the defensive end described that feeling to Gator Country.
“It’s kind of like a father-son relationship between me and the coaches at Florida and that makes me feel comfortable,” he said of why he felt comfortable at Florida. “It’s not like an employee-employer relationship and also my family felt comfortable and feel in love with Florida when we down there this summer. I built a great relationship with the entire coaching staff.”
Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain is quickly becoming a guy that Gator Nation loves and Clayton explained what it’s like to sit down and talk to McElwain.
“Coach McElwain is a very humorous person, he thinks everything is funny,” Clayton said. “He says that he’s a really emotional guy and you can tell that. He’s just real comfortable to talk too and have a relationship with. When I told him that I committed he was pumped up and he has been sending me nice messages since then.”
Clayton and McElwain have a great relationship, but the defensive end is really close with defensive line coach Chris Rumph and even Rumph was surprised by the news on Wednesday.
“He couldn’t believe it at first because I was about to commit when I went on my visit but I decided to wait and let things play out,” he said of Rumph’s reaction. “When I finally committed he was like way to go and welcome aboard. He told me congratulations.”
The defensive end says that Florida has great opportunities for him and that’s something that Rumph is stressing to him as of late.
“He said that I will play what Alex McCalister plays, kind of like a rush end,” Clayton said. “He said that I’d be playing some outside linebacker and dropping into coverage some but that I would mainly be a rush end because they need guys at the position. He thinks I have a chance to play early.”
Clayton did however make some news by saying he still wanted to take some visits, but he says that Florida is home and that he plans to make multiple trips back there.
“I’m definitely solid with Florida but I do plan to take some visits in January,” he said. “I’m going to visit Florida in January and I also plan to visit Tennessee and Auburn. I’m not sure on the other two. I’m going to be at Florida for the FSU game for an unofficial visit. That’s the biggest game of the year.”
Most of Florida’s commits are recruiting others to join them in Gainesville and Clayton is doing a little of that but he has a simple message for recruits.
“I don’t really have anyone that I’m recruiting right now but if they don’t jump on board then they will get left out,” he said. “You know what they say “if you aren’t a Gator then you’re Gator Bait.”