Recruiting is all about relationships, which means that the Florida Gators recruiting board has to be set for multiple years in advance.
Coaches are now offering more and more freshman because of the needs to get an early start, and that means younger underclassmen visiting Gainesville.
That was true for the last junior day when 2018 athlete Justin Watkins (6-0, 170, Ocala, FL North Marion) visited the Gators for junior day.
“It was a good visit,” Watkins said. “I got to see the campus, got to see the new indoor practice facility and the new practice fields. I’ve been on campus a lot so I have already seen everything there. I’m always there but it was fun.”
Florida head coach Jim McElwain met privately with Watkins to explain how much the Gators wanted the North Marion prospect.
“It was good talking to Coach McElwain that day,” he said. “He was telling me to come be a Gator and stuff like that. He was mainly talking to me about off of the field stuff and stuff like. He was saying that you have to have good grades, just stuff like that.”
Watkins, who has been on campus several times, is a known face around the football facilities, which means more coaches talk to him during visits.
“I talked to Coach [Greg] Nord, Coach [Randy] Shannon and, well, pretty much all of them actually,” Watkins said. “I usually talk to Coach Nord and Coach Mac the most and the really just tell me that they want me as an athlete at Florida.”
Nord is the area recruiter for Watkins and the 2018 athlete says that they have a good relationship.
“I have a good relationship with Coach Nord, I talk to him a lot,” he said. “He says that he really wants me there. He doesn’t really try to convince me or anything like that. He doesn’t pressure me.”
When Watkins visited Florida for junior day, he was committed to another SEC school but that is no longer true after Tuesday.
“I just decommitted from LSU today [Tuesday] but nobody is standing out right now,” Watkins said. “I’m going to visit Florida, Auburn and Florida State this spring.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Watkins admits that he’s close with Florida Gators signee Freddie Swain, but says that Swain doesn’t try to recruit him that much. Watkins is one of the top athletes in the country for 2018 and is a big priority on the Florida Gators recruiting board for next year.