Florida Gators recruiting: 2017 DE looking hard at Florida

The Florida Gators recruiting board for the class of 2017 is starting to take shape as the coaching staff has been able to watch and evaluate a lot of prospects from that class.

Defensive end Ryan Johnson (6-4, 235, Mobile, AL St. Paul’s) is one of those prospects on the board and last week he got to compete in the Under Armour underclassmen combine.

“It’s crazy because I never thought I would be able to come out here,” Johnson said of the opportunity to compete at the Under Armour combine. “I’m just planning on coming out here and making the most of the event and the opportunity.”

A little over a month ago Johnson received the news that the Gators had offered him a scholarship and the defensive end was excited to hear that news.

“It meant a lot to get that offer from Florida,” he said. “They put a lot of defensive linemen in the league and that means a lot. I’m looking at them hard because their defensive line coach puts them in the league.”

Florida Gators recruiting coordinator Drew Hughes is from Alabama and Johnson says the two speak a lot.

“Coach Hughes is the coach that I call the most,” Johnson said. “He tells me that they really want me and that he wants me to come visit them at Florida to check everything out.”

Hughes’ ties to Alabama are something that the Mobile native Johnson likes because Hughes is able to relate to the defensive end.

“It makes me feel secure about things because he has ties to the area,” he said of Hughes recruiting him. “I’m very comfortable with him because he’s not a coach that just tells me things because I want to hear them.”

Auburn is a school that has had Johnson on campus several times, but the defensive end says he’s in no rush to make a decision, nor does staying in state matter.

“I’m just taking everything slow right now,” Johnson said. “I’m looking at everyone and trying to find what school is best for me right now. I’m not looking at the home state schools more than others. I’m looking for the best fit.”

One thing that the Florida Gators recruiting efforts have going for them is that fellow Mobile prospect Lamical Perine is talking up the Gators to Johnson.

“I’m going to get out to Florida for a junior day or just an unofficial visit,” he said. “Lamical tells me that he wants me come out there too. I know there are three-or-four committed from Alabama so they’re definitely trying to make Florida the move.”

INSIDERS TAKE: Johnson is one of the top linemen in the southeast and he has the ability to play strongside defensive end and potentially grow into a guy that can play inside or outside. Johnson is a strong pass rusher and continues to improve as a run stopper.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.