Florida Gators take the lead in Billingsley’s recruitment

The Florida Gators hosted prospects from several states on Saturday for the first Gator Great cookout and that included prospects from as far away as Illinois and California.

Making the trip down from Illinois was tight end Jahleel Billingsley (6-4, 216, Chicago, IL. Phillips Academy) who enjoyed his first visit to Florida.

“The visit was definitely one of my best visits so far,” Billingsley said of his visit to Florida on Saturday. “The people, that’s about it. The people they didn’t talk to much about football, they talked about developing me as a person and preparing me for the next level.”

Billingsley enjoyed the cookout even as he had a chance to do several different things including talking to the coaching staff.

“It was like a barbecue, they had games and stuff set up so we could just mingle with the coaches and recruits,” he said on if he liked the laid back non-football event. “It was pretty nice to be able to do that.”

The Chicago native took advantage of the chance to talk with the coaching staff and he got to know tight ends coach Larry Scott a little better this weekend.

“I don’t remember all of them off the top of my head but I met most of the coaches and got to know them,” Billingsley said on if he got the chance to get the know coaches during the visit. “All of them were pretty cool. Coach [Larry] Scott is a great dude, from what I’ve heard he’s a great coach on and off the field.”

Scott talked to Billingsley about how the Gators would use him in the offense if he chooses Florida.

“Just basically that I can make an impact as a freshman,” he said of the message on how he would fit in at Florida on offense. “They said I’m a very versatile tight end that wouldn’t have to come off the field, they can use me everywhere, slot, wide out and I can have my hand in the dirt to block.”

The Gators assistant also explained that the Gators will lose two guys to graduation this year and that’s something that caught Billingsley’s attention.

“It is, because I will have a chance to come in and compete for a spot and I won’t be sitting on the bench,” Billingsley said on if the Gators losing two guys after this year at his position helps Florida. “I don’t want to redshirt.”

Saturday was the first chance for Billingsley to meet head coach Dan Mullen and it was a good first impression.

“He’s a real down to earth dude, he’s cool,” he said on his first impressions of Dan Mullen. “He’s funny there are some really nice people at UF.”

Mullen delivered the same message as Scott did but it was the way the head coach talked to Billingsley that caught his attention.
“It was the same thing, they all gave me the same pitch,” Billingsley said of Mullen’s message to him. “I can tell when people are being genuine and when people are just blowing smoke so I mean I can tell that he was being genuine.”

Heading into the visit Billingsley named a top two of Florida and Illinois but he now has a leader after the visit.

“Florida is my leader,” he said. “The conversation with Coach Mullen, just how genuine it was and how I could tell that he really wanted me. That’s really about it. My relationship with the coaches is growing a lot. I definitely thought about committing in the office with Coach Mullen, it was going through my head.”

Billingsley who is now planning official visits is planning on returning to Gainesville.

“Definitely, they have one of my officials,” Billingsley said on if Florida will get an official visit. “Probably in the fall.”


INSIDERS TAKE: Billingsley says he wants to sign early and he would like to make a decision before the season starts.

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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.