Negative tactics don’t work on Sanders

The celebration of Florida’s 45-12 win over FSU was still going on in a lot of places when the Gator coaching staff hit the recruiting trail. Coaches Steve Addazio and John Hevesy put on their 2006 National Championship rings and caught a plane for Clayton, Ohio to do an in-home visit with Zerbie Sanders, the 6-6, 270-pound offensive tackle prospect who has been getting an earful of negative recruiting from other schools. Obviously, the negative recruiting hasn’t worked out so well because Sanders is planning another visit to Florida some time in the next two weeks.

Sanders has already visited Gainesville but now that he’s had a chance to host the Florida coaches in his home, he’s ready to take a closer look and see what he might have missed out the first trip down south.

“It was great,” Sanders said. “They came down and my mom fixed dinner and we just talked about coming back down there. When I took my official down there I was only down there for less than 24 hours. I was actually talking about coming down there for an unofficial and spending a day with the players and coaches because I really like Florida.”

There is another reason he wants to visit Florida again. On the recruiting trail, he’s heard a ton of negatives, especially from one prospect he met up with on a visit to LSU this past weekend. Everything he heard from that one particular prospect goes totally against the grain of what he’s seen and heard from the Florida coaching staff.

“I just talked to some other recruits and they had some negative things to say about (Florida),” he said. “As soon as I was done with them I called Coach Meyer and Coach Hevesy and cleared things up with them.  I am getting real close to a decision and they are real near the top.”

Sanders wouldn’t go so far as to actually name the culprit(s) bad-mouthing the Gators, but he did throw out an interesting little nugget.

“I can’t say who because there might be some bad drama between me and him and I don’t want to do something like that,” he said. “ I will say he is a Florida State verbal so that will be even worse if he already has that bad karma about me and I end up at Florida.”

Sanders moved on to talk about things he likes about Florida. He had a good visit when he made the trip to Gainesville and he’s continued to get good vibes from the Florida coaching staff.

“Pretty much everything about them I like,” Sanders said. “Even though I was only down there for 24 hours I loved everything. The only negative was the short time span. I just like how close the coaches are and that they took time out to come and see me. They came here before going elsewhere to see other prospects.  It just seems like a family there.”

The only official visitor Sanders remembered meeting on his Gator visit is an offensive lineman that eventually committed to another program.

“I got to meet with Barrett Jones who is a verbal to Alabama now,” he said. “I just didn’t have much time to meet anyone else.”

In addition to Florida, Sanders has kept Georgia on his short list throughout the recruiting process. His mom is a Georgia graduate so there is a natural attraction. He likes what he sees this year of the Georgia football team.

“I have been there [Athens] three times,” he said. “Their tradition and fan support is great. Depth chart wise they are thin on the offensive line. A good example is Trinton Sturdivant starting as a true freshman. It’s also only an hour and half from my aunt and grandparents’ house in South Carolina. There were a lot of recruits, there.  Linebacker Marcus Dowtin, everywhere he went I went touring wise. I saw A.J. Green and a few more guys out there.”

LSU has moved into the recruiting picture with Sanders. He was in Baton Rouge for LSU’s overtime loss to Arkansas. The visit went well enough that the Tigers have elbowed their way in among his favorites.

“Before this weekend, LSU wasn’t even in the top at all,” Sanders said. “I went down there and just saw the tradition and everything they have to offer. I liked it so they are definitely near the top. I know they lost this weekend, but they are really good football team. Coach Miles is a really good coach. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to be with a host to be toured around and Coach Miles just told the guy that he was going to host me and he took me around campus in his big Escalade LX all day.  I met Vince Williams from Florida State and a linebacker from Utah. I also met Chris Davenport a top junior offensive guard that Florida has already offered.

Sanders lists his current order of preference like this.

“I would say a tie in first place between Florida and Georgia and LSU would be a very close second,” he said.

He plans on making that trip to Florida very soon.  And as fate would have it, he will down here close to the campus again a few weeks later.

“I am trying to get down there in the first two weeks in December,” Sanders said about his return trip to Gainesville. “I know I will be down there on December 31st for the ESPNU All-American Bowl. I probably won’t be making trips to the other schools.”

This one would be a huge get for the Florida Gators who desperately need to sign two offensive tackles in the 2008 class. As it appears now, the Gators are at least even for his services with a great chance to pull ahead in the coming weeks.

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