DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When Southern Cal offered defensive end Jachai Polite last December, it gave the Florida Gators cause for concern.
He had been committed to UF for less than a month and the Trojans had a former defensive end from his high school (Leonard Williams) go sixth overall in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
USC tried to sell Polite on Williams’ success, but it wasn’t enough to flip him from the Gators.
“A couple of players from my high school went to that program and liked it,” Polite said of the Trojans, who also have Daytona Beach Mainland linebacker Quinton Powell on their roster.
“I feel like I could have gotten on the field early there, and the coaches really wanted me. USC said I can be the next Leonard Williams. They just offered me very late and their coaching staff wasn’t stable enough.”
The following is a Q&A with Polite in the eighth edition of 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: “Choose wisely. Just take your time with the process and make sure you pick the school that’s the best fit for you.”
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: “Florida sent me something in the mail almost every day. My whole senior year, they were just constantly sending me stuff and showing me that I was a priority.”
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: “A lot of people thought I was coming to Miami, but when the coaching changes happened they were kind of out of it.”
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: “No regrets. I’m happy with how everything turned out.”
Q: Describe the impact of cost of attendance on your recruiting?
A: “Not at all. I just looked at the school and what kind of relationship I had with the coaches.”
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no, that you weren’t coming there?
A: “The head coach at USC. He was a nice dude. I told him I weighed my options and I just felt like Florida is the best choice for me. He took it well, wished me luck.”
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: “Miami. That’s a school I maybe could have went to, but it was disappointing to see those coaches go.”
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
A: “USC, obviously, and Auburn. I didn’t have a chance to visit there.”
Q: How much negative recruiting was out there?
A: “A lot of fans came at me after I committed to Florida. They were all in my notifications, but I didn’t pay them any attention.”
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: “Full-time communication with coaches. I definitely wish I could have talked to them more, especially late in the process.”