GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As Florida continues trying to fill its offensive line needs for the Class of 2017, a new target has emerged for the Gators.
UF offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier paid a visit this week to Tony Gray, a 4-star offensive tackle from Lawrenceville, Ga. Nussmeier and offensive line coach Mike Summers have been recruiting Gray for a while, and those efforts have helped the Gators secure a visit.
“Most definitely,” Gray said when asked about a trip to Florida. “They want to get me down there to check out the school. They tell me I got a chance to come in and contribute to the team if I put forth the effort. That makes me feel good.”
The Under Armour All-American has family in Jacksonville and made a visit to UF in April, but he wants to get a full tour of the program and interact with everyone on campus.
“I already feel the coaches and have a connection with them,” Gray said. “I just need to see how the vibe is with the people there and if I can’t fit in. The environment is important to me.”
Also important is the influence of his mother, Xernona Gray. She is very involved with his recruitment and joins him on all of his trips.
“He knows wherever he’s going I’m tag-teaming with him,” she said. “I’m willing to relocate because I want to support him. This is his decision because I’m not the one that has to go to school.
“Right now he has control over everything and I think he’s doing a pretty good job. He’s even got me in suspense. I don’t know just like y’all don’t know.”
Gray hasn’t named a leader or given any hints about his favorites, but he said a top 5 is “soon to be released.” The Gators could make that cut because of how they’ve been recruiting him.
“Their coaches are real nice. They’re great to us,” Gray’s mom said. “They’ve been at him real hard. So I’m going to take him to the school so he can see if the shoe fits. He has to be happy wherever he goes. Whenever I see him smile, I’ll know he’s found the right place.”
The 6-foot-5, 290-pound prospect has more than 30 offers, including Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Texas A&M. He is ranked the nation’s No. 21 offensive tackle and No. 183 overall recruit.
McElwain spending Thursday in Miami
Florida coach Jim McElwain was back on the road Thursday with linebackers coach Randy Shannon, the area recruiter for Miami.
They will visit four prospects in the 305, including UF offensive tackle commit Kadeem Telfort from Booker T. Washington.
McElwain and Shannon will attend Telfort’s game against Columbus, a high school that features 4-star cornerbacks C.J. Henderson and Josh Jobe (2018). Henderson named Florida in his top 5 this week.
Miami offensive tackle commit Navaughn Donaldson will also be seen by McElwain and Shannon. The 4-star recruit plans to officially visit the Gators after their season.
UF running backs Tim Skipper was scheduled to be in New Orleans on Thursday night to watch 4-star cornerback Brad Stewart, who almost committed to Florida in August. Stewart’s team is facing Riverdale and 3-star linebacker Josh Clarke. The Ole Miss linebacker commit holds an offer from the Gators.
Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.