GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Eric Douglas visited Florida for the first time last weekend, but he’s very familiar with the Gators.
The three-star offensive tackle from Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek watched UF closely from 2012 to 2014. A player from his high school, former five-star recruit D.J. Humphries, was a starting left tackle for Florida and went on to become a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL draft.
UF coach Jim McElwain made sure to mention that during his meeting with Douglas.
“He just told me that he loved me as a player,” Douglas said of their conversation. “He said he wants to grab another one out of Charlotte that’s great. He was talking about D.J. He was like, ‘You see the success he had, so if you can put the work into it you could be just like him and end up in the first round.’ ”
The 6-foot-4, 280-pounder said Humphries’ history with the Gators helps their chances.
“I’m a different person, but seeing someone that went to your school out of Charlotte going to Florida and being on a big stage in the first round, that has an affect on you,” Douglas said. “I talk to him on Twitter, sometimes on the phone. He knows I got an offer from here. He’s going to try to put that ‘either you’re a Gator or Gator bait’ in my ear.”
Draft dreams are secondary for Douglas, though. He wants to major in broadcasting and is basing his decision primarily on academics.
“Football is not going to last forever, so I’m going to see who gives me the best opportunity to not only play football but get an education,” Douglas said. “I didn’t know Florida was ranked so high with all their percentages of graduating people and getting a job afterwards, just how much money you can accumulate with a degree from Florida. So that’s some cool stuff that I saw.”
Douglas plans to decide “in a month or two.” His visit to Florida put the Gators in his top five.
He is rated as the No. 25 player in the state of North Carolina for the Class of 2017 and the No. 82 offensive tackle in the nation, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
“I’d say that they’re really high, actually,” Douglas said. “The amount of love that I got here, the playing style, the culture, the weather, it’s really good. I’d say that they’re real high on my list, next to South Carolina, N.C. State, Clemson and North Carolina.”