The Florida Gators made a huge splash on Monday when North Charleston (SC) Ft. Dorchester defensive end Carlos Dunlap announced his intentions to play in Gainesville in 2007. The five-star defensive end was in a heated recruiting battle with the home state South Carolina Gamecocks and was able to withstand pressure enough to commit to Florida and continue the Gators recruiting dominance in 2007.
It really was a tough decision for Dunlap who lives in a tight knit community that he feels will follow him wherever he plays football. At times he felt like he should stay close, but there was just something about the University of Florida that he found appealing. He knows his supporters will continue their support of him, even in the Orange and Blue.
“I really wanted to go to Carolina and stay close to home with my family and fans here,” Dunlap said. “I hope and know they will come and support me. It is my Ft. Dorchester family and I just think it is great to be a Gator.”
The Gators got in early on Dunlap and that helped make a favorable impression that really never went away.
“I am 100% committed,” he said. “I liked being a Gator since before the season and I told my coach.”
The Gators already were on Dunlap when his highlight film surfaced and really surprised a ton of people and made them take notice. In the middle of that highlight film is a kick return by Dunlap, all 6-7 and 240 pounds. He returned the kickoff all the way for a touchdown and showed agility and flat out speed doing so. But the Gators had already been on him.
“As you know my stock didn’t shoot up until mid season when I had my accidental kick return,” he said with a laugh. “My coach already had a great relationship with Doc Holliday, they hung out together and stuff before I ever committed.
He just finished his official tri to Gainesville and then called a quick press conference to announce his decision when he returned home to South Carolina. Like many other prospects that visited Gainesville, Dunlap talked about the people like his host Brandon Spikes being the most impressive part.
“After my trip to Gainesville, there was no doubt I was going to be a Gator, he said. “I felt that family atmosphere and it just felt right. They didn’t talk too much about the national championship. It was all about working hard and getting to another one.
“A National Championship is always great, but most of the reasons for my decision were (because of) the family environment.”
The Gators lose five defensive linemen from their National Championship team. The Florida staff has been running ragged trying to find replacements in this recruiting class and seem close to filling their needs at the positions up front. Dunlap knows he has a chance to play early as a Gator.
“The playing time is there,” he said. “I just have to go there work hard and hit the books, make sure I am ready to play.”
The decision to be a Gator may have been particularly hard on Carlos’ father who is Carlos Dunlap Sr. The former Gamecock didn’t hide from the fact that he wanted his son to follow in his footsteps, but he also showed great respect for his son for making his own decision and doing what he thought was right for him.
“My feelings about it, I am little hurt,” the elder Dunlap said. “That is the left side of me. The right side of me is I am happy. It was mixed emotions, but I am satisfied with the decision my son made.
“It shows me that he is doing what I trained him to do, to make decisions in life. That is his decision and I honor the decision and stand behind it. That is what I am going to do.”