Florida Gators head coach Dan Mullen has hosted prospects from the state of Mississippi on campus in Gainesville since he arrived at Florida and that continued on Saturday when the Gators hosted the first Great Gator cookout.
Defensive end Nathan Pickering (6-4, 286, Seminary, MS. High) was on campus for the event and for his second visit to Florida this spring.
“The visit was great, I always enjoy coming to Florida,” Pickering said of his visit to Florida on Saturday. “I love the coaches and the environment. Just a great place. The highlight of the visit was meeting with Coach Sal [Sunseri]. Coach Sal brings the energy like no other coach I know. His energy is always high and he’s always in high spirits.”
This event was different from his visit for a spring practice as Mullen and staff didn’t focus a ton on football.
“It was actually, they were more worried about school and my life than football,” he said on if the visit was more non football talk. “Football is not long, they were more worried about me educational wise and my family and things like that.”
Pickering expected to eat a lot on Saturday but he didn’t expect the staff to have as much for the prospects to do as they did.
“To be honest I didn’t expect games, I expected to come eat barbecue and just chill,” Pickering said on what the event was like. “I walked in, Fortnite on the big screen, Madden on the other one, they had games to. I liked that, it was very fun.”
Defensive line coach Sal Sunseri and Mullen talked to Pickering about how the Gators see him playing in their defense if he chooses Florida.
“They see me here coming in as a great fit and coming in and helping the team win a national championship,” Pickering said on where Sunseri sees him playing at Florida. “My position, I’m being recruited as a defensive end, he [Sunseri] believes that is a position that I need to play in college. That’s what I like about him, me being able to play somewhere I know that I want to play at and being able to help the defense as well.”
Pickering walked away from the meeting thinking very highly of the message the Gators sent him and he likes the plan they have for him.
“It actually is,” he said on if Florida is the perfect fit for him. “At my high school I also play defensive end and in different sets I go to defensive tackle so the way the defense is here I can play defensive end and defensive tackle.”
Mullen has made no secret that Pickering is a top target for the Gators and that’s something that the defensive end has also picked up on.
“In general, I feel like not as much for the school but for Coach Mullen,” Pickering said on if he feels like a priority. “I knew him ever since Mississippi State and he has been wanting me since Mississippi State and it’s the same as here. It ain’t really just the school but it’s Coach Mullen. I love Coach Mullen, he’s like one of the best coaches I know. I feel like I’m a priority to him.”
Pickering has now made the 8-hour trip to Gainesville twice and he says while the trip is a long drive, it’s becoming worth it.
“Florida is far but it’s worth it,” he said on if interest in Florida is growing. “I always have a great time coming here, I feel like I can have a great fit at Florida.”
The Gators aren’t the only school making Pickering a priority as several other big teams are hard after him.
“LSU is recruiting me pretty hard and Alabama is recruiting me pretty hard,” Pickering said. “Stanford is recruiting me hard, a lot of schools are recruiting me hard. They’re texting me everyday talking about officials.”
INSIDERS TAKE: Pickering is sticking with his top 10 and not naming leaders but Florida is one of his top schools out of that top 10 and Dan Mullen will keep the Gators in the mix to the end.