It didn’t take long for Sam Bruce to get the message.
“He’s always doing little stuff like getting me bands and stuff, jackets, shirts, bands…he’ll put like little gator stuff around my room.”
The he is Jordan Scarlett, a 2015 Florida signee who flipped his commitment from Miami — where Bruce is currently committed –to the Florida Gators. As a Rivals four-star and ESPN Top 150 athlete, Scarlett is trying to grow the Gators team, but more specifically, trying to keep a duo together.
Bruce is a 2016 four-star wide receiver. ESPN places him at 42nd in his entire class while Rivals ranks him as their 7th WR in the nation. He’s currently committed to Miami, but there’s a very big wild card in the Gators favor.
His best friend is Jordan Scarlett and it wouldn’t be the first time he’s switched schools to stay with Scarlett.
“Actually me and Jordan Scarlett, we met in middle school,” Bruce explains.
“I was in the 6th, he was in the 7th, and we reconnected in high school at University School and then we both left University School together and went to St. Thomas [Aquinas] so we have a great relationship.”
When Roger Harriott left University School for the collegiate level, Bruce, Scarlett and two other teammates decided to head to St. Thomas. It was there that Scarlett and Bruce found a rhythm that works for the duo on the field and off.
“We definitely play off each others energy. I have to say whenever, if I get it started, he’s right behind me and vice-versa. If I score first, he’s next. If he scores first, I’m next.”
But as the defending 7A State Champions, there were times the competition was more fierce between Scarlett and Bruce than it was for the Raiders.
“I remember one bet it was whoever scores the most touchdowns, it was [against] a bad team, whoever scores the most touchdowns gets dinner… he won. So I ended up paying for dinner.”
He didn’t make you go somewhere really nice did he?
“Oh no we went to Steak and Shake…four dollar menu.”
And it’s those moments that keep causing Bruce to look back at the Florida Gators.
“It makes me feel more comfortable, knowing that I have someone up there that I know, that I’m familiar with and that he can show me around and show me the ins and outs of the school and that’s pretty much it.”
He lists his top 5 as Miami, Florida State, Florida, Auburn and Ohio State, in no particular order. At 5’8”, 185 lbs. he’s much more Solomon Patton than Ahmad Fullwood. He has a voice that bespeaks of a Baptist minister preaching a rousing sermon on Revelation with just a touch of pure grit. Everything about him says tough. One look at the highlight tape shows that he’s that, but he’s also fast.
It’s that combination that had Gators head coach Jim McElwain picking up the phone not long after being hired to Gainesville.
“I’ve built a great relationship with Coach McElwain. He actually contacted me very soon after he got there so that was a big thing for me just showing me that I’m wanted. But we’ve built a great relationship and definitely looking forward to building even more great relationships this year.”
With an official visit on the way and plans to attend the Orange and Blue Debut, Bruce still has plenty of time to build those relationships. That first phone call with McElwain was just a simple hello, he says.
“He was just introducing himself to me and I was introducing myself to him, letting him know that I was very interested in University of Florida. Letting him know that my best friend was gonna be attending there for the next 3 to 4 years but only time will tell what will happen.”
For the next year at least, Sam Bruce can look forward to a room that continues to grow with Florida Gators gear; subtle hints from his best friend.