Manuel has the Florida Gators leading heading into January

ORLANDO — It’s a down year for defensive tackles in the state of Florida but the Florida Gators are in great shape for one of the few good tackles in the state for 2016.

That prospect is defensive tackle Shavar Manuel (6-3, 310, Bradenton, FL IMG Academy) who made news on Monday in Orlando by naming a leader for the first time during his recruitment.

“Florida is my leader right now,” Manuel said. “I’ve got a good relationship with Coach Jim McElwain and for a recruit to have a good relationship with the head coach is huge, most recruits can’t say that. Coach [Chris] Rumph, my position coach, has a great relationship with not only me but also my entire family. I have a great relationship with his family too. I met his wife and kids so that’s huge.”

Manuel, who admits that he talks to Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain a lot, says that McElwain has a couple of key points that he’s hammering home to Manuel.

“Coach McElwain says that he likes the Florida boys regardless of their position,” he said of McElwain’s message to him. “He tells me to imagine myself in the Orange and Blue baby. He tells me that Gators take care of Gators and that I will look good in the Orange and Blue. He feels like Florida is the right fit for me.”

While McElwain is giving the overall program pitch to the defensive tackle, Rumph is giving the scheme pitch to Manuel for the Florida Gators.

“Coach Rumph talks to me about playing both inside and outside in the defense,” Manuel said. “He wants me to be a role player and not someone that just stays in one spot, he wants to move me around. I see my game just like Jonathan Bullard and that’s what he did this year.”

The month of January is setting up to be a busy month for Manuel, but will the defensive tackle still be an uncommitted prospect after this Saturday?

“I’m going to take a Florida official on the 22nd and Florida State on the 29th,” Manuel said of his visit plans. “I’m going to USF coming up and I don’t really have my fifth official visit set up right now. It’s 50/50 right now if I’ll decide this week or not. If I don’t decide this week then I’ll decide on signing day.”

INSIDERS TAKE: If Manuel were to pick this week, I would predict him to pick the Florida Gators, but I doubt he decides this week. I think Florida is in great shape no matter when Manuel makes his decision.

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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, 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.