Tyrie Cleveland flipped from Houston to Florida on signing day, but the nation’s No. 2 wide receiver had the Gators on his mind months before that decision.
The four-star recruit first visited UF last summer, and that trip to Gainesville had a lasting effect on him.
Cleveland told SEC Country his affinity for the Gators was the biggest secret he kept during the recruiting process.
“I always had that team in the back of my head and I never told anyone,” Cleveland said. “I liked Florida all along, but I didn’t let it be known until the end.”
The Under Armour All-American had an interesting story behind his commitment to UF.
The following is a Q&A with Cleveland in the first 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: “Don’t get big headed during the process. You have to stay humble.”
Q: What school came in second? What could they have done a little better?
A: “TCU. I could have felt a better vibe when I got there. I didn’t feel how I felt at Florida.”
Q: What was the most creative thing a school or coach did to get your attention?
A: “Oklahoma threw me a surprise birthday party on my official visit. That was cool.”
Q: What was the biggest rumor about you that wasn’t true?
A: “That I was a traitor for leaving Texas. A lot of people were saying it, but I’m from Florida.”
Q: What is the funniest thing any HEAD coach said to you during the entire recruiting process?
A: “Bob Stoops told me, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to be Sooner? Come on, it’s a no-brainer.’ The way he said it was just funny.”
Q: What was your biggest regret during the recruiting process?
A: “My biggest regret is committing and de-committing. I wish it wouldn’t have happened.”
Q: What was the funniest story that happened on one of your recruiting trips?
A: “At Florida we all got together in a room and the coaches went crazy when they showed my highlights. They were just screaming and jumping around. It was a lot of fun.”
Q: Describe the impact of cost of attendance on your recruiting?
A: “No. I paid attention to people, coaches, players and academics.”
Q: Which coach was it the hardest to say no to?
A: “Tom Herman (Houston) and Gary Patterson (TCU).”
Q: Which school disappointed you the most during recruiting?
A: “Texas. I went to the camp and balled out. Coach said he would call me and offer, but he never did.”
Q: Which college would you have considered more seriously if they had offered you earlier in the process?
A: “Florida State. I liked them but they never offered me.”
Q: How much negative recruiting was out there?
A: “Not that much, very little actually. Schools mostly talked about themselves to me.”
Q: Which head coach of a team that you did not sign with was the nicest? Which coach was not the nicest?
A: “I liked Bret Bielema from Arkansas. I didn’t really have a good vibe with the Ole Miss coach, Huge Freeze. One time he came to my school to talk to me and I just wasn’t feeling it.”
Q: If you were in charge of the NCAA, what’s the one rule you would change with recruiting?
A: “That more family members can come with you on official visits and get plane trips and hotels like the recruits. Being able to fly is the biggest thing.”