Jacksonville hasn’t been kind to Florida in recent years as far as sending players to the University of Florida.
From 2006 to 2012 only three players from the Jacksonville area signed with Florida, which is less than two hours from the Gainesville campus.
That has changed as three Jacksonville area players have already committed to attend Florida next year and another player has Florida in his top two.
Those players are First Coast High linebacker Daniel McMillian, Bishop Kenny receiver Ahmad Fulwood and Trinity Christian safety Nick Washington. Sandalwood defensive end Demarcus Walker committed to Alabama but was close to joining his friends in Florida’s Class of 2013, which is sure to be among the best of the country thanks to, among others, the elite contingent from Jacksonville.
“I think Florida is going to start recruiting Jacksonville better now,” McMillian said.”It’s a Gators town already and the new staff has done a great job of recruiting the area. It’s not just one coach it’s all of the coaches. They want to dominate our area.”
“Three kids from the same area — that’s big,” Fulwood said. “Florida has gotten back into the area this year and they are here to stay for years I think.”
Jacksonville is home to the Florida/Georgia rivalry every year and is widely considered part of Gator Country. However, folks from the 904 area code simply haven’t had a hometown boy to cheer for since quarterback Tim Tebow played at Florida.
Now that three area prospects will sign with the Gators in this class, the Jacksonville community will have their eyes focused on Florida more than ever.
“It’s big for the Jacksonville community to have us going there,” Washington said. “They will definitely be rooting us on and be our biggest supporters. I already hear people say I can’t wait till your playing for Florida and stuff like that.”
“Jacksonville people love the Gators,” McMillian said. “It’s big to have all three of us guys go there and be able to represent the 904 area code and hopefully make them proud.”
Usually when high school seniors move to college there is an adjustment period of being away from your family and friends.
These three prospects will have someone to lean on off the field: each other.
“The adjustment period will be so much easier,” Fulwood said. “We are all best friends, so if one of us gets homesick we have our friend to talk to. Instead of knowing nobody, you will have two of your close friends by your side from Day 1.”
“This means the world to me as a person,” McMillian added. “I will have family there as those guys are family to me. So you have family at school with you, plus your other family isn’t far away in Jacksonville. It will help make things more comfortable for me and I’m sure those guys, too.”
All of three of these prospects on the field have been invited to top All-American games and have over a dozen offers a piece.
What makes these three guys special are what they do to help others off of the field.
Fulwood, McMillian and Washington are both heavily involved in a 7-on-7 program in the Jacksonville area to help the younger kids, plus they work with the boys and girls clubs during the summer months.
“I think it’s big to help out in the community and to give back,” Washington said. “We have a chance to be a role model to younger kids and we should use it.”
Serving as a role model is something that Fulwood hopes will carry on once he gets to Florida. Young players certainly are easily drawn to the charismatic playmaker.
“I want to be a huge role model,” Fulwood said. “I think I have matured quicker because of helping out with the little kids and having them look up to me. I hold myself to higher standards because I want to set a good example for everyone.”
Now that they know where they going to attend college the biggest question is who will room with who when they get to Gainesville next summer.
This article first appeared in Gator Country’s October issue.