GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida is a school that figures to be prominently in the mix for Bruce Judson moving forward.
The Gators have been viewed as the favorite for the four-star athlete since he de-committed from Ohio State last October. He recently visited UF on Jan. 30.
“It felt great to come back, especially to see a lot of people who know your name,” Judson said. “There’s not unfamiliar faces at Florida. I have good relationships with the people here.”
Those relationships extend beyond the coaching staff. During his latest trip to UF, the nation’s No. 11 athlete caught up with former NFL quarterback Charlie Frye.
“I’ve known him for a long time,” Judson said of Frye. “I spent a lot of my time with him. He was just talking to me about Florida and giving me the inside scoop.”
Frye joined the program last summer as a consultant after serving as an offensive coordinator for two Orlando area high schools (Jones and Wekiva). At Jones, Judson was his ball boy.
“My dad coached the O-line for Jones when coach Frye was there,” Judson said. “He used to make me write plays on the board for Friday (games) and we would review the plays on Sunday. He taught me all about formations.
“We started doing drills my seventh grade year, so I’ve been working with him since I was young. Me and him go way back.”
Frye isn’t the only support staff member Judson knows well. Florida graduate assistant James Rowe is a name that carries weight where Judson is from.
“He’s from my home town in Cocoa. He played and coached for my high school. He’s a legend,” Judson said of Rowe. “I know he’s going to push me just like coach Frye.
“Having those two at Florida will help me even more because I know they’re not going to give me anything. They’ll make sure I work for a starting position.”
Judson’s Cocoa connections at UF don’t stop with Rowe. Two of his teammates from last season, cornerback Chauncey Gardner and offensive lineman Jawaan Taylor, signed with the Gators for 2016.
“They’re already pushing me to come,” Judson said. “Chauncey tells me, ‘I know you’re going here’ and Jawaan is always in my ear. I have two guys who will be here that can teach me when I come in.
“They’re going to give back to me what they learned their first year so I can be ready. That’s how you want to spend your college career, with guys you feel comfortable being around and playing with.”
While in Gainesville last month, Judson also met with Florida coach Jim McElwain, wide receivers coach Kerry Dixon II, running backs coach Tim Skipper and director of player personnel Drew Hughes.
“They were just happy to see me and have me on campus again,” Judson said. “They’re coming after me hard. They see me playing H-back and motioning out to slot receiver as well as being a punt returner. Just making big plays, and I’m excited for it.
“They told me I need to come back more during the summer and I told them I will. I’ll probably come and stay for a week and then go back.”
The 5-foot-9, 186-pounder is considering more than a dozen other schools and plans to release a top 10 soon. Judson showed up Sunday at The Opening Regionals in Orlando (Fla.) wearing Gators gloves and shorts.
He hasn’t named UF his leader, but things appear to be trending that way.
“It’s not going to be hard for another school to top them,” Judson said, “but it will be hard for someone to build the kind of relationships I have at Florida with the coaches and players.”
Unless otherwise indicated, rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.
— Zach Abolverdi (@ZachAbolverdi) February 21, 2016