GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Most recruitments are marathons, not sprints, and Florida’s yearlong pursuit of linebacker Vosean Joseph has given the Gators an edge that apparently not even national champion Alabama can surpass.
Joseph committed to UF almost a year ago in large part because of his relationship with linebackers coach Randy Shannon, who attended the same high school as him (Miami Norland).
But after a senior season that earned Joseph first team all-state honors, schools such as Alabama, Louisville and Maryland have started coming after him. However, with his trip to Florida over the weekend, he is set on a school.
“I know where I want to go, and that’s UF,” Joseph said. “I’m committed.”
The previous weekend, the 6-foot-2, 210-pounder officially visited the Crimson Tide. At the time, Joseph said Alabama had been making him more of a priority in recent weeks than Florida.
But he understands why.
“It’s a business,” he said. “Why would Florida have all these coaches hitting me up when I’m already committed to them? Alabama was trying to impress me. At the end of the day, I had to separate real from fake.
“Alabama offered me late, but Florida realized how much talent I had last year. That means a lot. They’ve been showing me major love from the start, and it’s about loyalty with me.”
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Joseph visited UF with his mother, father and cousin. He said he’ll talk over everything with his parents this week to make sure they’re on board with the Gators, but the discussion should be short.
“Myself and his dad are 100 percent down for UF,” said Joseph’s mother, Nattalene Vanreil-McDonald. “I never got a chance to go to Alabama. I met the coaches and I’ve spoken to them, but no one showed the interest to me like Florida did.
“We’re all sales people. When you’re going to sell me something, that doesn’t mean I’m going to buy your car. You’re just looking for a sale. I need you to show me that you care about my life. Sitting in your vehicle, you can show me the color and this or that. But what are you doing to help me as a person? None of that was given to me from Alabama. I didn’t see it.”
Vanreil-McDonald said the highlight of her trip to Gainesville was spending time with Shannon. She praised the way he handled her son’s recruitment and stayed in contact with him consistently.
“Coach Shannon, I don’t know if maybe because he’s from Norland and knows our area and what these boys through on a day-to-day basis, but he let me feel better,” Vanreil-McDonald said. “He really took the personal time to reach out and keep in communication with him to make sure he’s on top of his grades and everything else. I really appreciate that.
“When these other people called, they were more interested about football. Well, going to college is not just about playing football. It’s about academics, and Florida was the only school that showed me they had Vosean’s back where that is concerned.”
Vanreil-McDonald added that proximity to Miami was an issue with Alabama, as well as Louisville. She said the Gators staff has made her feel comfortable not just this weekend, but throughout Joseph’s recruiting process.
“From the first time I visited there, I have always liked the fact that it’s very family oriented,” Vanreil-McDonald said. “Even though we’re not going to be close, it’s a good environment for him to be in. That’s one of the things that I really loved coming up there.
“I’ve spoken to different coaches, but no one made me feel that I can count on them more than the coaches at UF, to be honest with you. Since he committed to Florida, literally everything in my house has been orange and blue.”