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Gators gain ground on Georgia for Derick Hunter
Florida had a handful of top-200 overall recruits on campus this weekend for the start of spring football.
The Gators hosted 5-star defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (Thousand Oaks, Calf.), 5-star running back Trey Sanders (Bradenton, Fla.), 4-star wide receiver Mycah Pittman (Calabasas, Calif.), 4-star tackle Keiondre Jones (Hogansville, Ga.) and 4-star defensive end Derick Hunter (Fort Myers, Fla.).
Thidbodeax and Sanders are ranked as the nation’s No. 1 and No. 6 overall recruits, respectively, in the 247Sports composite.
Hunter estimates that he has visited Florida’s campus “probably 20 times,” but his latest trip was a new experience. After attending junior day in late February, the former Miami commit made a two-day trip this weekend.
“I got the full experience of what it’s like to be a Gator and I love it,” Hunter told SEC Country. “From being in the film room to watching practice and being with these boys in the locker room, I really got to see what it’s like to be a Florida player.
“I was with their defensive line a lot this weekend and all those boys know me. When I come here, I’m like their little brother. That’s big for me. At the University of Miami, I didn’t have that with them. I only had a relationship with one of their players.”
Georgia was the No. 1 school for Hunter heading into the weekend, but that’s no longer the case. He told SEC Country the Gators not only moved up for him, but other recruits as well.
“Oh yeah, they gained on Georgia. It’s even now,” Hunter said of the Gators. “It’s not just me that they gained ground with. They moved up for some of the top players in the country like K.T. and Trey. Those boys are feeling Florida.”
The 6-foot-4, 281-pound Hunter is ranked the nation’s No. 15 strongside defensive end and No. 186 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite. Up next for him is his first-ever visit to UGA.
“Georgia is still standing out,” Hunter said. “I’m going to see what it’s like when I get up there. Talking on the phone is different than meeting in person. Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina are also coming into the mix.”
At this point, no program gives Hunter the comfort level that feels at Florida. The job for him now is to find out if Georgia or another school can match or surpass that.
“I’m comfortable with Florida and that’s going to help them a lot,” Hunter said. “I can come to this city and know exactly what to do. I don’t have to pull up my GPS. I know where the mall is. I know where all the facilities are. I know where the food spots are, like Relish. It’s kind of like a second home for me.”
Kayvon Thibodeaux impressed by Florida’s Nick Savage
Like Hunter, Thibodeaux also took a two-day trip this weekend, and the Gators knocked it out of the park.
The nation’s top-ranked player was impressed with the intensity of Florida’s practices and had extremely high praise for first-year coach Dan Mullen, calling him “one of the most honest and respectable men” he’s ever met.
The Gators cemented themselves as a legitimate contender for Thibodeaux, who plans to return for an official visit in the fall. The highlight of his trip was meeting and learning about Nick Savage, Florida’s new director of football strength and conditioning.
“His weight program blew me away,” Thibodeaux told SEC Country. “Coach Savage is probably one of the best strength coaches in the country. He was showing me all the before-and-after pictures of players who have dropped weight. Guys are getting stronger and losing body fat. It was amazing, honestly.”
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