The 7v7 National Championship being held at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida this weekend is showcasing some of the most talented skill position players in the country this weekend.
One of those players is consensus 5-star linebacker from Plainfield, Illinois, Clifton Garrett. At 6’2”, 225-pounds, Garret is physically ready to play at the next level and he hasn’t even begun his senior year of high school.
Garrett’s team (Core 6) drove 17 hours down from Illinois and stopped at some colleges along the way. Florida was one of those schools and it was the first time Garrett has had the opportunity to see Florida and Garret was impressed with the facilities.
“Well I didn’t get a chance to see all the facilities but I got a chance to see the weight room and the stadium.” Garrett said. “I got a chance to talk to Coach Muschamp and I was petty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. That was one of the best weight rooms that I’ve seen on my recruiting trail so far, it was really impressive.”
Garrett was able to meet with Will Muschamp and D.J. Durkin but it was another coach that really stuck out to him
“I got a chance to meet with the strength and conditioning coach (Jeff Dillman), see what their plans would be for me if I got a chance to go down there, that was real exciting, they’ve got a lot of energy down there.” Garrett said. ““I love him. He’s just the kind of guy you need in the weight room. So I like that. You wouldn’t want to drag in the weight room and you’ll definitely love going to the weight room and getting that work in with him.”
While Dillman might have made Garrett want to work out right there on the spot, he had more time with Muschamp and Durkin and they told him what to expect and how they would like to use him if he decided to commit to Florida.
“We were just talking about their plans for me if I did decide to come down to Florida. They like me at linebacker.” Garrett said. “They said I can play all three positions but primarily they would want me at Mike or Will. They were just basically saying that they love me. They like the way I play and said I play the way that Florida’s defense plays; fast and nasty and real physical.”
The trip with his 7v7 team also gave Garrett an opportunity to see Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time in person. He walked away very impressed with the stadium’s atmosphere.
“I walked in with Antonio Morrison and Coach Durkin.” Garrett said. “As soon as you walk in it’s breathtaking. It’s a beautiful place. You always see it on TV but when you finally get a chance to go in there and see it in person its just like wow. You can definitely tell it gets live in there once the game comes on.”
Being able to hang out with Morrison, who is also from Illinois, allowed Garrett to be able to hear what it would be like to leave home and re-locate to Gainesville from someone who has already made the same move.
“Oh, yeah. He knows where I’m coming from, he was in the same position I was.” Garrett said. “He said that everyone says Florida boys got the speed and all that stuff and it’s a whole other atmosphere out here. But he said we can come out here and it’s really nothing. You just have to come out, work hard be hungry every day and you can compete with them.”
Garrett said that LSU is his leader and he’s really only focusing on SEC schools at the moment. Garrett said he will try to visit LSU again this summer and he is also planning a trip to Tennessee.
As far as Florida is concerned, Garrett doesn’t think he will be able to return to Gainesville this summer but said he will use one of his official visits to come down and check out Florida again.
“I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get back out to Florida this summer but I’m definitely going to take an official. Probably for the Tennessee game.” Garrett said.
While he was in the weight room, Garrett got the chance to meet with Sharrif Floyd who is back in Gainesville in-between camps with the Minnesota Vikings. Some of the football players were also working out and their attitude and mentality left the biggest impression on Garrett.
“Well when I was down at Florida it was a real tight atmosphere. I got a chance to watch them work out and everybody’s in there working, eating, everyone’s grinding real hard. You can tell they’re definitely hungry. They’re not happy with the way they finished last season.”