This was the kind of weekend you would expect from the national champs. Several of the nation’s top prospects were in Gainesville, everybody had a blast and the Gators got a commitment out of the number one prospect in the country at his position, linebacker Dee Finley of Auburn, Alabama. Another big time prospect from Alabama who came to town and left Gainesville with good feelings about the Gators was Tyler Love, the huge (6-7, 280) offensive tackle out of Mountain Brook in the Birmingham metro area.
“I sure did visit Florida and it went very well,” he said. “I had a great visit. I just liked meeting the players on the team and getting to know them more, that was pretty cool and I liked getting to know more about the University of Florida. I know now that Florida is one of the best universities around. The campus is amazing and I like it a lot. The students are just different … they are more outgoing. They are more physically and socially active. Everywhere I went the students were outside doing something.”
There was a whole lot of love in Gainesville this weekend as Tyler brought a few family members along for the ride. According to the all-star lineman, they also enjoyed the visit themselves.
“I went down there with my parents and my twin brother,” Love said. “My father just loved the trip and thought Florida was the place to go for any athlete because they have such a great school itself. My mom enjoyed the trip too and thought it was a great place. They both connected with the coaching staff. Really, it was Coach (Steve) Addazio, Coach (Urban) Meyer, and Coach (Greg) Mattison.”
Love got a different feel around the players at Florida than he does at most other schools he has visited so far.
“I hung around with Phil Trautwein, Tim Tebow, Bryan Waggener, and Carlton Medder.,” he said. “I think they are a little different because it is more like a family atmosphere, they all respect each other and talk each other. The older guys that are about to graduate came up and started talking to me and asked what I liked. They were kind of goofing around, but it made me feel real comfortable.”
Love has his college list narrowed down to a select five. Florida, Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and Oklahoma are a formidable group. He’s planning to make some more trips this summer so you know he will get the red carpet treatment wherever he goes.
“I am planning on going to Alabama on Tuesday the 19th and try to make it to Florida State next weekend but not sure I am going to make that,” he said. “I also want to get to Georgia this summer.”
He talked a little about each of the schools he likes.
ALABAMA: “When I was growing up, you picked either Alabama or Auburn. My family has always been Alabama fans. I like the tradition and the University of Alabama itself. I really like the coaching staff, Coach (Nick) Saban knows how to win.”
FLORIDA STATE: “They are new to my list, but I have known Coach (Jimbo) Fisher for awhile. He came twice to watch me at practice and that really impressed me. Coach (Bobby) Bowden is the most legendary coach out there still coaching. Also, Coach (Rick) Trickett really impresses me a lot.”
GEORGIA: “They have a great atmosphere and I love Coach (Mark) Richt. He is a great Christian man that can mold players into men.”
OKLAHOMA: “They have been to BCS bowl games I don’t know how many times over the years. Coach (Bob) Stoops is a mastermind and they always have some top linemen. I plan on getting there this fall sometime.”
“I’m not sure I will take five visits, but these are the main five I am focusing on,” Love said. “I will probably make a (final) decision sometime between mid-October and late November.”
It has been a whirlwind for Love who really didn’t think he would be garnering as much attention as he has.
“The whole process is crazy I guess,” he said. “It is a pretty overwhelming but enjoyable process. It only happens one time in your life, but I really didn’t know I would be recruited this heavily at all. I thought I was just a guy that loved to play football and I guess coaches saw something in me. I am just low key and like to play.”
The Gators are off to a good start in impressing the Love family. Now, they want the humble All-American tackle to turn even more of his attention south to Gainesville. If first impressions are any kind of indicator, it appears that may be happening.