While putting the finishing touches on the Class of 2012, Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff are already off to a fast start on the Class of 2012. On Saturday, the Gators grabbed their second Class of 2013 verbal commitment in the past week.
Crescent City (Fla.) defensive tackle Caleb Brantley became the second verbal commitment for the Florida Gators’ Class of 2013. The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder pulled the trigger on his pledge after the first of UF’s two junior days on Saturday.
Unlike many college football prospects nowadays, Brantley wasted little time pondering his college choice. He received his scholarship offer from Florida on Monday and almost committed on the spot. Instead, he decided to wait until Saturday’s Junior Day to make it official because he wanted to deliver the news to Florida coach Will Muschamp in person.
Of course, Brantley certainly could have held out for more than a year and announce his choice on the first Wednesday of next February (also known as National Signing Day).
But Brantley bleeds orange and blue.
Why waste his and other people’s time by taking and making countless calls and visits to campuses all over the country? Why wait so long when he knew at “hello – you have a UF offer” that he wanted to be a Gator?
He wanted to proclaim to the world that he was a Florida Gator now, not later.
He couldn’t, though. Not yet. Not until he told his future coach himself. And that kind of news is always better in person so he didn’t want to do it over the phone.
He had to wait until Saturday’s Junior Day.
It was hard enough waiting five days, let alone 365 and some change.
Turns out he had to hold his decision in a little longer.
After prospects toured campus with their familes and attended Florida’s 69-57 win against Mississippi State in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, Brantley was hoping to seize his first opportunity – that seemed appropriate anyway – to approach Muschamp and accept his scholarship offer.
However, Muschamp left the basketball game and Junior Day sooner than expected. He reportedly boarded a University Athletic Association jet plane headed for an undisclosed location. It’s likely the second-year coach is making a final push for one of the few undeclared 2012 prospects.
With less than 100 hours before the start of the signing period, Muschamp’s main focus is on this year’s class. He’s still got plenty of time to focus on 2013s, especially with another Junior Day scheduled for Feb. 25.
So, Brantley was forced to wait a little later – long after the Junior Day festivities had ended and the Gainesville sun had set – before officially become a Florida Gator.
Turns out, because of Muschamp’s sudden departure, Brantley had to do what he didn’t want to do, and that was deliever the news over the phone.
Regardless, the chief mission was accomplished – Brantley is now a Florida Gator.
“I love Florida,” Brantley said. “My whole family has been Gator fans, and since I was little, I was, too.”
Brantley joins Winter Haven, Fla., running back Adam Lane, who committed to Muschamp during an unofficial visit to Gainesville last Saturday.
Other than his lifetime love of the Gators, UF assistant Dan Quinn also played a major role in Brantley’s quick decision. Quinn is Brantley’s lead recruiter and was who informed Brantley of his scholarship offer on Monday.
“(Quinn) told me that he would love for me to come to Florida and be a Gator,” Brantley said. “He said he wanted me to play defense under him.”
Brantley also reported scholarship offers from Florida State, Miami and South Florida. Crescent City struggled to a 3-7 record this past season, but the Raiders won two of their last three games. They look to ride the late season success into next fall as the Raiders return several key players to go along with Brantley, who averaged nine tackles a game.
“Coach (Dan) Quinn and Coach (Will) Muschamp both told me they wanted be to be a part of the family,” he said about what he was told on Saturday. “and they wanted me to be ready to come in and contribute and the defensive tackle position.”
College coaches began keeping tabs on Brantley after strong performances combines last spring. Powered by a whopping throw of 42 feet in the power ball toss, Brantley scored an 84.24 SPARQ rating at the Orlando Nike SPARQ Combine at Lake Highland Prep’s CNL Stadium on March 12, 2011. It was the third best throw of the event and he was one of 25 competitors named to the All-Combine team. He also ran a laser-timed 5.53 seconds in the 40-yard dash, a 4.72 in the 20-yard shuttle and posted a 24.1-inch vertical leap.
“My whole family was able to go with me today,” Brantley said. “They loved it and we all grew up Gator fans, so it felt right.”
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