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2020. Gator Committment. LB Derek Wingo. St. Thomas Aquinas. Fort Lauderdale, FL

Discussion in 'Awesome Recruiting' started by bobbybaker86, Jun 22, 2019.

  1. thale410

    thale410 GC Hall of Fame

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    That's how you play the long game and build credibility and relationships. It might not hit the short-term jackpot as often as we'd like in the first 24 months, but it sets up to have impressive results as relationships are built with kids, parents, and hs coaches of the 2021/2022/2023 classes and beyond.
     
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  2. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus All American

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    Excellent strategy by our staff. Not negative recruiting against any schools but only talking about UF and what we offer will land us the guys who want to be Gators.

    CDM has a method that will get us to Dabo-like recruiting over the next few years. Chess, not checkers.

    Love yo hear that this is the approach the staff is following.

    The fact that the family felt that our staff was “real” is a great sign. Ethan White’s mom said that Megan Mullen reinforced what she felt about this staff, and was the key to getting her blessing for her son to commit to UF.

    Plus, the more we learn about the Chris Steele drama, the more it looks like CDM took the high road there as well.

    Glad he’s our coach.
     
    Last edited: Jun 23, 2019
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  3. TrueGator

    TrueGator GC Legend

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    Sounds like an intelligent, observant, perceptive family. Might indicate that he will soak up new information like a sponge.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2019
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  4. candymanfromgc

    candymanfromgc Moderator VIP Member

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    Yeah this is his mom.
     
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  5. candymanfromgc

    candymanfromgc Moderator VIP Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. candymanfromgc

    candymanfromgc Moderator VIP Member

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    Penn State LB commit @DerekWingo was recognized as one of the top five linebackers during the 2019 @RivalsCamp tour

    This from Blue White Illustrated.
     
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  7. bobbybaker86

    bobbybaker86 GC Hall of Fame

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    Don't think i'm allowed to but am i allowed to post the recruitment article detailing our flip of him from The Athletic website?
     
  8. candymanfromgc

    candymanfromgc Moderator VIP Member

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    To be safe Bobby, just link it,
     
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  9. coach

    coach GC Hall of Fame

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  10. coach

    coach GC Hall of Fame

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  11. orangebluegator

    orangebluegator GC Hall of Fame

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    I'll just leave these here ...










    ... and say that somersault and Gator chomp got me like ...
    [​IMG]
     
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  12. orangebluegator

    orangebluegator GC Hall of Fame

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    Damn coach you beat me by a few minutes.
     
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  13. coach

    coach GC Hall of Fame

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    Maybe not even that much.
     
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  14. antny

    antny GC Hall of Fame

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    Interesting that some posters( one in particular lately) don't miss an opportunity to gripe when we get a commitment from a 3 star but also remain absent on a thread like this. Wish they would just stay off the wagon....
     
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  15. candymanfromgc

    candymanfromgc Moderator VIP Member

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    Yeah, can you picture Black, Wingo and Diabate on the field at the same time.
     
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  16. bobbybaker86

    bobbybaker86 GC Hall of Fame

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    @candymanfromgc I don't have a link, a friend I know just copied and pasted it for me.

    Carrieann Wingo brought a notebook and colored pencils into the car. A visual person, she planned to draw tables and charts outlining pros and cons comparing Florida and Penn State during the ride back home from Gainesville. Derek Wingo, her son and a highly coveted four-star 2020 linebacker from St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, arrived on Florida’s campus for a confidential visit Saturday morning as a Penn State commit.

    He left committed to the Gators, and the family drove back home without Carrieann Wingo even opening the notebook.

    “There was no need for it,” she said.

    Understanding why involves learning what Derek Wingo and his family most value, and how Florida’s staff demonstrated an approach congruous with their desires.

    For Florida, months of patience led to an opportunity Saturday. According to people with direct knowledge of Wingo’s recruitment, linebackers coach Christian Robinson made sure the Gators were prepared.

    The visit was meant to be private.

    Derek Wingo made it clear to Florida that he didn’t want media to know he was going to be in Gainesville on Saturday. Penn State head coach James Franklin isn’t a fan of prospects who are committed to the Nittany Lions visiting other programs. There was no going behind Penn State’s back, either: Carrieann Wingo made it clear a few days earlier to Ja’Juan Seider — Penn State’s running backs coach, a primary recruiter for Wingo and a former Gators assistant — that Wingo wanted to make one more trip to Florida. Wingo valued his relationships with Penn State’s coaches and appreciated the staff’s efforts toward him. Balancing his desire to affirm his decision and feelings while wanting to be respectful toward Penn State led to confidentiality.

    Simply put, if Florida wasn’t the right place for Wingo, he didn’t want to create an unnecessary stir or do anything to form the false perception he was unhappy with Penn State and looking around in the process of finding out.

    A problem: Florida was hosting a camp for 300 football players, including many kids and coaches who knew Wingo.

    “The potential for something getting leaked was huge,” Carrieann Wingo said. “We weren’t trying to protect Derek. Derek didn’t want to disrespect Penn State, their fans and their coaches. He wanted things to be done the right way.”

    To uphold that wish, Robinson offered to meet the Wingos in Florida’s academic center or in the school library. Anywhere away from the camp near the Gators’ indoor practice facility. A decision was made that Robinson would meet the Wingos in the parking lot near the football stadium. He left the camp by himself, picked them up in a golf cart around 10:30 a.m. and took the back entrance reserved for coaches to the offices inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

    Inside his office, Robinson handed Derek Wingo and his parents each a packet of 25 pages of information designed specifically for Wingo. Robinson, sources close to Florida’s program said, spent the entire night before the visit, with the help of Gators assistant director of creative media Kevin Camps, creating the packets.

    Around 4 p.m. on Friday, Carrieann Wingo had informed Robinson that she and her son had created two extensive lists of questions about Florida they wanted to be answered. Robinson went to work answering each inquiry with detail.

    The information was contained in Gators folders. There were pages on life after football, former players, faculty and departments. There were pictures of the dorms. There was information about athletes’ stipends. There was a campus map and a graphic with the exact mileage from the Wingos’ home to The Swamp, because Wingo indicated in his list of questions he wanted to learn just how close the Gators were. There was even an itemized depth chart with pictures and an explanation of how he could be used on third downs as a freshman.
    It was meant to be take-home information that provided answers. In case they weren’t making a decision Saturday, they could look back and not have to wonder.

    Inside Robinson’s office, Carrieann Wingo told him jokingly, “I hope you didn’t miss out on dinner with your fiancée.”

    “All of our concerns were there,” she said. “Absolutely everything Derek and I had on our lists with the exception of a couple of things that were addressed with specific departments were in those packets.

    “It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, either. There were some things where I was like, ‘Eh, I am not that crazy about that.’ He was very transparent. He gave us the good, the bad and the ugly. No one is perfect. There was no sugarcoating, no pretending. It was unbelievable the time and effort he must have spent.”

    Wingo’s subsequent extensive meeting with Florida head coach Dan Mullen went just as swimmingly for both parties. At one point, Mullen told Wingo that he knew the stud linebacker liked wearing No. 15, but no specific jersey number would be dispatched to him if he arrived with a GPA below 3.0. Carrieann Wingo appreciated the candor and sense of accountability.

    Much to Wingo’s parents’ liking, Mullen and Florida’s staff never compared the Gators with Penn State. They never said they were able to do anything better than Penn State, either. Their message was they believed Florida was the best fit for him on and off the field, and they would accept his commitment anytime from Saturday up until the final seconds of signing day. There was no pressure.

    At some point during the exchange with Mullen, Wingo’s parents looked at him and knew his mind was at ease and made up. Wingo gave Mullen his commitment, contingent on it being handled with respect and class toward Penn State. In other words, Wingo wanted to do it on his terms and when he was ready. He even asked Mullen if the decision had to be made public at all, but then realized he would be asked about Penn State during upcoming camps and, he put it to his mother, he “didn’t want to be living a lie” or disrespecting Penn State.

    Wingo then told Mullen he was going to tell Franklin at a later time. Wingo had no interest in “reopening his recruitment,” receiving inquiries from coaches around the country. Shortly after the meeting, while still on campus, he looked to his mother and said, “Mom, I can’t do this. I need to tell Coach Franklin now. I can’t be living a lie. I owe it to that Penn State staff.”

    “The hardest thing I’ve ever seen him go through was making that phone call,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    Wingo picked up the phone and searched for Franklin’s number. Then he waited. His phone screen went black. He picked up the phone and found the number again. Again, he waited.

    “Mom,” he said, “I know this is the last time I am going to talk to them. The relationship is going to be ruined.”

    Finally, Wingo called. An assistant coach picked up. Then Franklin called back.

    Franklin was upset. He wanted to know what Penn State did wrong and what they didn’t do right.

    “And honestly they didn’t do or not do anything,” Carrieann Wingo said. “I mean, they did everything right. And when you see Twitter blow up and they’re out for his job and this and that, it’s so difficult because it has nothing to do with that. It was just what was best for Derek.”

    Wingo’s parents have preached principles to him that are applicable to the wild world of college football recruiting:

    • Don’t backstab people.
    • Be upfront in a respectful manner.
    • Don’t tell people just what they want to hear.
    • Don’t burn bridges.
    Wingo is lauded in the Fort Lauderdale area and even by rival high school coaches for his maturity and moxie. Relationships are most important to him, those closest to him say, because he enjoys forming bonds and, like many 17-year-olds, likes making people proud.

    “That’s why this was, for us, the most difficult situation,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    Wingo committed to Penn State last Christmas. The news was a shocker to Florida, sources close to the program said, because Robinson had been in touch with him consistently leading up to that week. Wingo fit the type of player Florida wanted in its linebacker room because he was smart and motivated. He received a message from Robinson after his commitment to Penn State that read, “I will always be here. I’m a fan of yours. If you ever want to talk, I’ll be there for you.”

    “When he committed to Penn State in December, there wasn’t a doubt in his mind that’s where he wanted to be,” Carrieann Wingo said. “He was 100 percent all in, and was for months. However, I think he fell in love with the staff and not the program because he is such a people person.”
     
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  17. bobbybaker86

    bobbybaker86 GC Hall of Fame

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    There was also the fact that Wingo never really wanted to go to school too far from home — at least one of his parents has attended each of his athletic events in his life — and he hates the cold weather. Still, he couldn’t give up the relationships he had with the Penn State staff. He didn’t want to disappoint them.

    Carrieann Wingo described Penn State’s staff as “an amazing, tight-knit, family-oriented group.” When Derek committed, his parents supplied a lesson on what that meant.

    “But we also understand that at the time, he was 16,” Carrieann Wingo said. “Honestly, I don’t think these kids should be able to commit before the spring before their senior year.”

    It wasn’t until March, however, that Carrieann Wingo started to realize Derek didn’t really know the answers to specific questions about Penn State and his potential future there. Decisions can still be OK if they are wrong sometimes, in her view, as long as they are also calculated. This one may not have been.

    “It was our fault for failing him and not saying, ‘Did you do your research?’” Carrieann Wingo said. “We kind of felt like we failed him as parents, thinking, how do you allow this when we didn’t make sure he had the information he needed.”

    Florida was always one of Derek Wingo’s top choices. He first visited last summer for the Gators’ cookout.

    One day in March, Wingo told his mother that he thought he might have committed too soon.

    “At that point, we felt we owed it to him as parents to understand that he may have made a mistake,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    Wingo’s parents, both Florida State fans, agreed to go to Florida with him in March, shortly before his scheduled visit for Penn State’s spring game. Before that visit, his father had never been to Gainesville.

    Penn State was aware of the visit, but Wingo’s presence in Gainesville that day was unknown to the media and public.

    “Honestly, the purpose of that visit was to rule Florida out,” Carrieann Wingo said. “To kind of show Derek that, OK, we are going to go here and then Penn State and you’re going to feel the feelings for Penn State all over again and we are going to be done.”

    That’s not what happened.

    “They did nothing but impress,” Carrieann Wingo said of Florida’s staff during that visit. “It was unbelievable. There was no pressure. We have spoken to coaches from all over, and every time, we heard, ‘Penn State offers this, but we can do this better.’ There was never any of that at Florida.”

    Wingo then went to Penn State for a three-day visit, but something was amiss. A Penn State coach even asked him at one point, “Derek, are you good?” He said he was. But something was on his mind.

    “Something was different,” Carrieann Wingo said. “His heart wasn’t there anymore.”

    When Wingo arrived back home, he wrestled with his recruitment. He asked his parents what they wanted him to do, but they were adamant that it was his decision. Someone gave the family advice: When you can’t decide between two loves of your life, you should always take the second one because if you were truly in love with the first one, you never would have even entertained the thought of the second.

    “That really hit home with us,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    A team captain for his high school, Wingo was uncharacteristically tired and unorganized over the past few weeks. Major summer camps like The Opening were approaching. So was the NCAA’s dead period. He wanted and needed clarity on his recruitment.

    About one week ago, he asked his parents about another trip to Gainesville.

    “This all happened so fast,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    “I need to go one more,” Derek told his parents. “I don’t have all the information. If you were to make the decision right now, which would you choose?”

    “Penn State,” Carrieann Wingo replied. “But that’s for me because I don’t have all the information on Florida.”

    The information was provided Saturday.

    “Side by side,” she said, “there was just no comparison which school was a better fit for him.”

    Florida staffers, particularly Robinson, regularly checked in on Wingo. For the Gators, he was a must-get. Sometimes Wingo would reply. Sometimes he wouldn’t. The talks were sometimes about football, but Wingo and Robinson also bonded over a relatable fact: They are sons of interracial parents.

    Some on Florida’s staff believe momentum seriously picked up by late May. Four-star edge rusher Khris Bogle is from Fort Lauderdale and is friends with Wingo. Bogle arrived on campus last month. He reported back positive experiences to Wingo. Bogle, in essence, became an extra line of communication.

    The development was a sign that the Gators’ staff, fresh off 10 wins in their first year, may no longer be the only voice when it comes to pitching elite prospects. For a class that moved to No. 8 in the 247Sports Composite ranking after Wingo’s commitment, that could be critical. Wingo plays the money linebacker position that Vosean Joseph played last year. Freshman Tyron Hopper, a four-star prospect in the last cycle, is also expected to play that position, but the depth beyond that in the future is nearly nonexistent (Amari Burney is slated to start at the money linebacker position this season, but his future may be back in the secondary).

    Wingo’s commitment eliminates some pressure for the Gators’ linebacker recruiting. Now, they can focus more attention on national standouts such as Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell. The Gators’ hope is, much how Bogle helped land Wingo, Wingo can help secure a big-time teammate in a defense that usually deploys two traditional linebackers on the field at the same time.

    For Derek Wingo, that’s less stressful than his own recruitment.

    “We all woke up with such a peaceful feeling Sunday morning,” Carrieann Wingo said.

    Late Sunday morning, she asked her son what he was doing.

    “Mom,” he said, “I am just sitting here.”

    She asked: “Just sitting here?”

    “Yeah,” Derek said. “I woke up a Gator. I’m great.”

    Said Carrieann Wingo later: “It was such a relief.”

    (Top photo: Courtesy of the Wingo family)
     
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  18. DieAGator

    DieAGator GC Hall of Fame

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    Nice to see Wingo comes from a family with high values. Can't teach that... well, yes you can. :thumbsup:
     
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  19. gatortenor37

    gatortenor37 GC Legend

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    Almost brought a tear to my eye. Happy we got him.
     
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  20. thekentuckygator

    thekentuckygator GC Hall of Fame

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