GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Gators are trying to land another defensive end for the Class of 2017, and one of their top options is Jarez Parks.
The 4-star recruit from Sebastian, Fla., named UF his leader early in the recruiting process, but he hasn’t visited the school since March. Still, Florida remains one of his favorites because it’s an in-state program.
“I’ve always been a homebody. I like to stay close to home, so that’s very intriguing,” Parks said. “Also, the staff is very welcoming. Coach (Chris) Rumph, who is recruiting me, and also (Kerry) Dixon, they make me feel as if I was home, as if they were my uncles.
“Like, you could just go to their house and chill and eat. They’re definitely making me feel comfortable with them.”
The U.S. Army All-American is scheduled to officially visit Florida on Jan. 13 and has previously visited Alabama and Florida State. The Crimson Tide are considered the team to beat.
“I don’t know why people keep saying that,” Parks said. “They’re a great school They’re doing an amazing job recruiting. Not only just recruiting me, but recruiting my mom and (keeping) everybody I’m close to in the loop. That’s definitely a good thing they’re doing right now.”
Parks also plans to visit Auburn on Jan. 20 and could take a final trip to North Carolina or Notre Dame on Jan. 27. However, his recruitment is expected to come down to Alabama and Florida.
“They’re very different due to certain locations and how every school runs differently,” Parks said of the two programs. “They’re not similar whatsoever. They’re very different and you can’t compare them.”
Parks told SEC Country his determining factor will be which school can make his mother, Ebony Parks, most comfortable.
“My mom is one of my friends who is just there when I need her,” Parks said. “She’s always been there for me. Through thick and thin. She’s been my backbone. Not even my backbone, but my entire body. She knows me inside and out like no one ever has.
“Basically, I wouldn’t gotten where I have today without her sacrificing as much as she did. My mom plays a huge factor in my decision. As long as a coach and a program can keep her in the loop and I know that she’s comfortable leaving me off to that school, then I’m good with that.”
Parks expects the month of January to be overwhelming, but he’s trying to have a cerebral approach with his upcoming decision.
“Hopefully I can keep it as calm as possible, but I’m sure it’s going to get pretty hectic after awhile,” Parks said. “I have two visits coming up this month, Florida and Auburn. … The decision is not just for me. The ultimate is one me, but it impacts more than just me. I have other people who genuinely care about me, so I take their thoughts together, too.”
4-star safety shuts down recruitment
Tray Bishop will no longer visit Florida on the final weekend before National Signing Day.
The 4-star safety from Dawson, Ga., was scheduled to visit the Gators on Jan. 27, but committed to Georgia this week. The former Auburn pledge told SEC Country he decided on the Bulldogs months ago.
“About two or three,” Bishop said. “Once I had it in my mind up that I wanted to play defensive back then it became a lot easier. I looked at Georgia and Florida more closely. It was like an equal opportunity with both. … It was then just about staying in-state really.”
Bishop decommitted from the Tigers on Dec. 13 and planned to offically visit UGA, Auburn and Florida this month. Now it’s just the Bulldogs who will host him Jan. 13.
“I’m only taking that one,” Bishop said. “I’ve got my mind made up. There was no reason for me to go off and take another visit to see someplace else.”
— Quotes were obtained on-site by SEC Country’s Jesse Simonton and Jeff Sentell.