GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kai-Leon Herbert is an Under Armour All-American, but he wasn’t able to play in this year’s game.
The 4-star offensive tackle from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was sidelined because of an injury. His recovery process is being aided by Florida, and that gesture has helped put the Gators in position to flip the Michigan commit.
“A lot of people don’t know this,” Herbert said, “but I chipped a piece of bone in my shoulder. The University of Florida has been gracious enough to refer me to doctors. They’re telling me this doesn’t scare them off one bit. They still want me to be part of the family and I can come compete for a starting job.”
Florida was the leader for Herbert early in his recruiting process, but he committed to Michigan on July 6. Despite that decision, Herbert is still high on the Gators and communicates with offensive line coach Mike Summers.
“There wasn’t anything wrong with Florida in the first place,” he said. “The coaching staff, the environment, the campus lifestyle, the students. Everything over there is top notch.
“Coach Summers, he feels the relationship that me and him have built over the past year is really great. He sees me in orange and blue. I can come in and make difference there, I just have to work for what I want.”
Herbert has been solid with the Wolverines and officially visited Ann Arbor in Oct. 22. However, he hasn’t shut down his recruitment just yet.
“Everything about Michigan is just a ‘wow’ factor,” Herbert said. “It really blows you away. I haven’t seen anything like that school. As of right now I’m going to Michigan, but that can change. I am still looking at other schools to see how it’s going to benefit me and my family in the long run.”
Herbert will officially visit Auburn (Jan. 13), Miami (Jan. 20) and Florida (Jan. 27) before making a final decision. Having been to UF several times, this upcoming trip isn’t for him.
“It’s basically for my parents so they can get the feel of what I feel. That’s really important,” Herber said. “This isn’t only my decision, this is a family decision. It basically comes down to if I want my family to see me play or if I’d just rather have them watch me on TV.
“My mom doesn’t want me to go so far away, but my dad wants me to try and get as far away as I can. They see Michigan as a great opportunity for me, but they also haven’t seen any other schools.”
Herbert attends American Heritage High School with UF commits James Houston and Marco Wilson. Another one of his teammates, U.S. Army All-American Tedarrell Slaton, lists the Gators as his leader. Several members of Florida’s class began openly recruiting Herbert on social media last weekend.
— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) January 7, 2017
Herbert is bracing himself for a hectic month of recruiting, but he’s not stressed about the process. The 6-foot-5, 284-pound lineman knows exactly what he’s looking for in a school.
“You just have to follow where your heart goes and make the best decision for yourself,” Herbert said. “It’s about who’s going to take care of me not only as an athlete and a student, but as a human being.
“All these coaches are really great to me, but I know that when I get to college the switch is going to flip and I’m going to get snapped on. I want a coach who’s going to yell at me, but also a coach who’s going to lift me up.”