ORLANDO, Fla. — When Will Ignont heard his name called Sunday, he took a brief second to soak in the moment before hopping up to receive his gold envelope.
Ignont was one of the first seven invitees to The Opening, an annual combine for the nation’s top recruits at Nike World Headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder competed in The Opening Regionals last year, but didn’t get an invite to the big event. He and five of his IMG Academy teammates got the nod Sunday, while his quarterback (Kellen Mond) punched his ticket to the Elite 11.
“It’s real special,” Ignont said. “Last year I came up short and didn’t get invited. So this year is big, especially with all my teammates here from IMG. It’s a dream come true, really. I’m just excited to be invited.”
Ignont, the nation’s No. 5 inside linebacker, enrolled at IMG Academy in Bradenton (Fla.) on Jan. 11. Four days later, he was in Gainesville to visit Florida for the second time.
“Every time I visit there, I feel like they show a lot of love,” said Ignont, who first visited UF last June and was offered by Jim McElwain. “Coach McElwain is like one of the assistants. Some head coaches don’t really interact with the players when you go to colleges, but coach McElwain came to me and we had a great talk. I just feel welcomed and wanted when I go to Florida.”
— RiP JiGG! (@WillIgnont) January 15, 2016
UF is in Ignont’s top five along with Auburn, Ole Miss, Michigan and UCLA. Originally from Huntsville, Ala., he’s only visited Auburn and Ole Miss to date and is close with coaches at both SEC schools.
Auburn: “I feel at home at Auburn, a little bit more than other schools. It’s more than just a home feeling. When I say at home, I really mean it. I had a relationship with coach (Kevin) Steele when he was at Alabama before he went to LSU, so we’re real close. I look up to all those Auburn coaches as father figures. I talk to those guys every day. I’ll go up this summer and spent four or five days there just because I love it. It’s a special place.”
Ole Miss: “I’ve visited Ole Miss twice. Me and coach (Hugh) Freeze had a long talk. He’s a real good guy. He wants his players to be humble, and they show it. He’s a man of his word and he’s a man of God, and that’s big for me. I grew up in a Christian household, and my mother taught the same values they preach at Ole Miss. We both love that.”
Ignont wants to make his decision after the summer or possibly on senior night. He plans to be an early enrollee.
— The Opening (@TheOpening) February 21, 2016
Unless otherwise indicated, rankings come from the 247Sports Composite.