PLANTATION, Fla. — T.J. Slaton took his recruitment the distance, choosing Florida over Georgia on National Signing Day.
As his decision neared, the 4-star defensive tackle sought advice from Mike Rumph, his former head coach at American Heritage High School.
Rumph is now the cornerbacks coach at Miami. The Hurricanes weren’t in the mix for Slaton, so Rumph encouraged Slaton to sign with the Gators because of defensive coordinator Randy Shannon and defensive line coach Chris Rumph.
“He told me Florida would be a better choice (over Georgia),” Slaton said. “He was letting me know that Shannon and Rumph were good coaches.”
The following is a Q&A with Slaton for our Florida recruiting rewind series.
Q: If you could give a junior ONLY one piece of advice about the recruiting process, what would it be?
A: “Take your time. It’s not a rush to pick which school you want to go to. That’s what I would tell one of my junior teammates.”
Q: What school came in second? What could it have done a little better?
A: “Georgia. The school wasn’t bad, but I didn’t like Athens. I didn’t get a good vibe there. I didn’t feel comfortable. It just wasn’t the place for me.”
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: “Florida. When I went on my visit, they had a whole room set up for the recruits, and they were showing our highlights. I liked that.”
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: “That I’m an offensive guard. I’ve never played offensive guard a day in my life. I’ve always been a tackle. I’ve told people that. There’s no film of me ever playing guard.”
Q: What’s the biggest secret you kept during the recruiting process?
A: “My mom wanted to watch me play. Usually she would say she didn’t care where I go, but near the end (of the recruiting process) she said she wanted to see me play in person.”
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: “That it was for football and not basketball. I wanted to play basketball, but it didn’t work out. You got different paths you have to take to get to where you want to be in life.”
Q: What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
A: “One of the recruits didn’t bring clothes to go out, so he had to wear Jordan Smith’s clothes and they didn’t fit. They were huge on him.”
Q: Which school was it the hardest to say no?
A: “Kentucky. Their coach came all the way down to recruit me. It was hard for me to tell him I wasn’t coming to their school.”
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: “Ole Miss. I was trying to take an official visit there and go see the school, but we never made a date.”
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if it had offered you earlier in the process?
A: “Florida State. A lot of people in my family liked Florida State. If they would have stayed in contact with me, we could’ve had something going.”
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest? Which coach was not the nicest?
A: “Mark Richt. He’s so calm and relaxed when you talk to him. He’s funny, too. I never had a coach that wasn’t nice to me.”
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: “I’d change the ACT and SAT requirements. It’s something that a lot of athletes struggle with. I’m struggling with it right now.”