It’s likely you’ve read the phrase “the SEC is a line-of-scrimmage league” a number of times in these recruiting updates over the past several months. But that’s only because Florida coach Will Muschamp keeps harping on the note every opportunity he gets. The message is clear: Florida wants to get bigger up front. On both sides of the football.
Enter a prospect like Crescent City (Fla.) junior defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. The 6-foot-3, 287-pound lineman made his second trip to UF this fall on Saturday to watch the Gators host in-state rival Florida State (he was previously in attendance for the Alabama game in October). After picking up the phone on Sunday evening, Brantley was quick to note that he had just arrived back home from Gainesville. He decided to spend an extra day taking in the sights and sounds of the town following an unofficial visit to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium the previous night.
“I enjoyed the trip a lot. I like Gainesville,” Brantley (who is of no relation to Florida senior quarterback John Brantley) said. “I grew up watching the Gators. They were my favorite team.”
As Brantley approaches toe recruiting process, he’s taken a bit of a step back from playing favorites, but it’s clear the Gators have several factors playing in their favor as it relates to the highly-regarded Class of 2013 prospect.
“I feel I would be a great fit for the Florida defensive line,” Brantley said. “Bryant Young, I think he’s a great coach. He has smaller guys on the defensive line, but him and [defensive coordinator Dan] Quinn have them playing big. I think they can get me to the next level.”
Brantley was also impressed by the effort put forth by the Florida defense on the night, despite the 21-7 loss to the Seminoles.
“I enjoyed the way they played,” he said. “They held Florida State under 100 yards [of total offense].”
After the game, Brantley spoke with several Florida assistants – Young, Quinn and Aubrey Hill among them. Florida once again expressed their interest in keeping a close eye on the big defensive tackle moving forward.
“They basically said that based on how I did this season, they would be in touch,” Brantley reports.
A top performer at the Tallahassee Nike Camp back in April, Brantley notched 99 tackles and five sacks as a junior, despite the fact that Crescent City was only able to secure a record of 3-7 on the season.
Presently, Brantley claims just two offers: from Florida State and FAMU. However, he doesn’t seem concerned about that at the moment. He figures it’s only a matter of time before a bevy of scholarship opportunities from major BCS programs start rolling in.
“Recruiting is going very well. A lot of coaches are coming to my games,” Brantley said. “Once they see my junior film, they’re going to offer me. I’m not worried about that.”
He also has quite the list of top schools already picked out. His early top five?
“Florida, Florida State, Alabama, USC and Miami,” he said.
With the offseason now in full affect at Crescent City, Brantley said he will work to add some bulk and strength in the weight room (he could play baseball or run track in the spring, he added). His future looks bright, and he feels the same can be said for what’s going on in Gainesville.
“Honestly, I feel like UF is going to be a great team,” Brantley said. “They had a few mistakes and the quarterback issues (against Florida State), but that was the best defensive effort they’ve had. I like what I’ve seen from Florida so far.”
Brantley currently reports a 2.6 GPA, and plans to take the ACT on Dec. 10 for the first time. He is presently on pace to enroll early from Crescent City High School in December of 2012.
Justin Wells hosts a weekly recruiting video chat with Andrew Spivey on Tuesday nights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. EST. You can view the show live on the Gator Country TV page. You can also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org—or follow him on twitter @j_wellsGC.