The University of Florida Gators took another step toward filling critical needs at the cornerback position when Justin Grant of Ponte Vedra Beach (FL) Nease committed to Coach Urban Meyer and secondary Coach Chuck Heater. Just two weeks after Grant was extended the offer by the Gators, the 6-1, 180-pound corner who plays for UF freshman quarterback Tim Tebow’s old school pulled the trigger.
Grant is not very well known in recruiting circles primarily because he switched schools this season. He played at Jacksonville Ribault last year, but transferred in to Nease where he’s a teammate of one of the nation’s top high school linemen, James Wilson. Grant said there is a lot of similarity in the way the program is run at Nease and at Florida, a factor in why he chose to commit to the Gators.
“I just committed to the University of Florida,” Grant said. “I just got real comfortable with them. I just saw how they run the program and it is so similar to Nease High School and I just think I could spend the next four years there.”
The Gators offered Grant a couple of weeks ago after watching him pick off three passes in one game including one that he ran all the way back for a touchdown. The Florida staff obviously likes his combination of size, speed (4.4 in the 40) and playmaking ability.
“I told Coach Meyer that I felt like I should be Gator; he told me that was awesome,” Grant said. “He was telling all the coaches around him when I called. He was saying that they have a big game like we do this weekend. He said he would be sure to watch ours.
“I was told that they like my size. I have good height and have great speed with my height. I have long arms and am a great cover corner. I have a nose for the ball and they say I am a pure athlete. They say they want to get with me to make things happen.”
As usual, when the Florida staff found a prospect they wanted, they were relentless in the pursuit of the prospect. For Grant, it was the constant attention and the way they recruited him that convinced him to jump on the recruiting train that is the 2007 recruiting class.
“Florida just started to grow on me day by day,” he said. “I was getting the phone calls and the messages. The coaches are just down to earth. I am getting along with them so well and they were the first to offer and it’s a huge offer.”
Nease is off to a great start this year and making sure the Eagles finish strong is his first priority of business. Still, he likes what he sees from the Florida defense and relishes a chance to be the one in the secondary making all the plays for the Gators some day.
“The defense is all right because their front seven is pretty good and they get so much pressure on the quarterback and that helps out the secondary,” he said. “If I am there I am sure I can get a hold of it.”
According to Grant, the numbers crunch in the secondary has affected the play calling from the Gators. The fact that they are playing young players and still don’t have enough depth with three seniors graduating, there is a lot to like about coming into this particular situation.
“Coach Heater is telling me how they want to run certain defenses but they feel like they really can’t because they need more cornerbacks,” he said.
Grant will make his official visit to Gainesville after the season and sometime in December. He has a qualifying GPA and he’s about to give the ACT his first try very soon. When he arrives on campus in the summer, Grant says the Gator fans will have a playmaker ready to do his thing in the Florida secondary.
“They will see a serious, hard-nosed, raw athlete who really loves doing what he is doing,” Grant said. “It’s going to be a serious show.”
Two weeks ago not many Gator recruitniks knew who Justin Grant was. He burst on the scene quickly and his commitment likely will force off the board some other prospects that waited too long to be a part of Florida’s recruiting class of 2007. Don’t take his relative obscurity as a sign that the Gators are reaching, but consider it an indicator that the Florida staff knows what it’s looking for and can evaluate talent. Brandon James and Markihe Anderson are prime examples.