There’s a brand new leader for McAllister

The Gators made a great impression at practice Wednesday on one of the better defensive linemen in the country. All the hard hitting and constant hard work and coaching made Tampa Alonso defensive lineman DeMonte McAllister (6-3, 250) take notice. It was enough that McAllister says the Gators are the new team to beat.

It was McAllister’s first experience at watching a college football practice and like Gary Brown and his mother who said “there was no comparison” between the practice atmosphere between Florida and Florida State, McAllister was quite taken aback by everything he saw Wednesday.

“I had a great time yesterday … it was pretty amazing,” McAllister said from his home in Tampa after letting everything soak in for approximately 20 hours. “They get after it at practice. I had a really good time. I have never been to a college practice so I really liked it. The defensive linemen were quick, fast, big ends.”

McAllister and his mom arrived on the University of Florida campus in Gainesville before noon so they packed plenty into the unofficial visit.

“I left my house at nine in the morning … [the UF coaches) wanted me to have a tour,” he said. “Their academic program was great and my mom really enjoyed it. I got to eat with Urban Meyer and everything.

“I didn’t get back home till ten something. After practice, we went up and ate dinner with most of the coaching staff. We talked about my senior season coming up. I felt like I wanted to commit last night. I didn’t tell [Mom] at the time, but it just felt like home.”

For McAllister the visit to Florida represents a dramatic recruiting about face. Supposedly he was a heavy lean to Florida State but like so many other big time talents lately, when he finally visited the Gators and got a chance to really see what they are all about, there was a sudden change of heart from a childhood favorite.

“The couple of last times I have been to Florida it wasn’t one-on-one,” he said. “They were able to break it on down for me. It is just a great program. They had the National Championship and SEC Championship. It is just great right now.

“Florida is at the top of the list right now.”

It isn’t over though and this weekend McAllister will visit Florida State for their spring intra-squad game. He is planning to make a long day of that too.

“I am going to a junior day at Florida State and then watch the spring game Saturday,” he said.

McAllister is a very good student and grades are absolutely not an issue. The big time defensive lineman who boasted 63 tackles, 12 sacks, and 18 tackles for loss as a junior looks to have a strong senior year both personally and with his team. He plans on taking a huge leadership role to make sure the team steps it up after a mediocre 2007 campaign.

“We are expecting a lot in my senior season,” he said. “We have a lot of seniors that are going to step up. Ever since my sophomore year [my coach] has been asking me to pick up [the leadership],” McAllister said. “I am going to take charge of the whole defense [this year]. I am just going to do all the little things right, and I am going to point them to the right things to do.”

As for college, the Gators are currently looking at him as a defensive end, but as he saw for himself Wednesday, they will play the best linemen no matter what position it says on the roster. Florida is having a problem at defensive tackle right now in practice and so many times four defensive ends will play on the field at the same time. His high school coach wants him on the inside, but will also take a look at his ability as an outside pass rusher.

“They [high school coaches at Alonso] are playing me at defensive tackle, but are talking about some end,” he said. “Florida is telling me end … actually they told me I could play anywhere on the line. Their ends play at tackle and everything already.”

And so we have the birth of another fun recruiting battle in the state of Florida with a premiere player in DeMonte McAllister. The Gators have jumped past Florida State as the leader and it’s going to be interesting to see if UF can maintain that lead.