GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Navaughn Donaldson made his trip to Florida over the weekend, but this time was much different.
The 4-star offensive tackle and Miami commit attended his first UF game, watching the Gators defeat South Carolina 20-7. It was an official visit for Donaldson, allowing him to spending two nights in Gainesville.
His mother, Evaughn Person, joined her son on the trip and spoke with SEC Country about their weekend.
“One of the things that stood out the most was the game,” Person said. “It looked like the entire Gainesville community was there. You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing orange and blue. That was amazing.
“Another thing that caught my attention was all the players getting recognized for Senior Day. That stood out as well. Just how emotional and connected the players were to their coaches.”
Person said they got a tour of the entire campus, including the academic center, the administration office and the athletic facilities. But for Donaldson, the highlight of his trip came away from UF.
“When they showed us the off-campus housing, I think it really blew him away,” Person said. “He sat down on the wicker chair and was like, ‘I’m here.’ He was very comfortable.
“He got to hang out with some players at their place, interact with them and just see their routine. The best way to learn about something are from people who go through it, which are the players. So it gave him a better understanding to experience that.”
Donaldson and his mother also spent time with Florida coach Jim McElwain, offensive line coach Mike Summers, linebackers coach Randy Shannon and defensive line coach Chris Rumph. But their interactions weren’t limited to coaches.
“I spent a lot of time with Coach Hova (on-campus recruiting director John Herron) and Coach Summers’ wife. They were awesome,” Person said. “I loved Rebecca, a fiancée of one of the coaches. Deidra Church (director of football adminstration), she was great.
“Just getting to see the close-knit family at Florida, that was cool. Everybody is there to make sure these players are successful. I was feeling that. I know Navaughn will be comfortable and safe there. It’ll be his home away from home.”
The Under Armour All-American has official visits remaining to Florida State (Nov. 25), North Carolina (Dec. 3) and Miami (Dec. 9). Donaldson will be an early enrollee.
“We’re still cautious as far as making a decision,” Person said. “Navaughn committed when Miami was under (Al) Golden. We’re still up in the air and waiting to take every official visit, see how things go and compare them. We just want to look at all the options so we can be sure he makes the right decision on a school.
“I’m comfortable wherever he goes. My main goal is that I want my son to be safe and comfortable. I want to have no worries, be familair with the staff and be assured they can take care of my child while he’s away. That’s what I care about.”
Nation’s No. 1 WR visits Florida
Another official visitor for Florida last weekend was Donovan Peoples-Jones, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver.
SEC Country was unable to get a hold of the 5-star recruit from Detroit, but he spoke with 247Sports about his trip to UF. Peoples-Jones plans to be a pre-med major in sports medicine.
“The highlights were attending my first Florida game, visiting the hospital, and touring the non-football facilities,” Peoples-Jones told 247sports recruiting insider Steve Wiltfong. “Was able to consult with doctors who used to play football for Florida. It helps a lot when you can get advice from people who have done what I’m trying to do.”
The U.S. Army All-American has now officially visited Florida, Nebraska and Ohio State, with possible trips coming up to Florida State and Michigan. Peoples-Jones will enroll early and plans to make his decision shortly before that.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.