Five-star working on fall Florida official visit date

Friday visit was to spend time with Will Harris

by Inside the Gators Staff
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Though Florida still has a steep hill to climb with Zephyrhills (Fla.) cornerback DJ Pickett, there’s no question that the Gators are still in the running to secure the services of the 6-foo-4, 180-pound five-star.

UF’s chances begin and end with the experiences he has when he visits campus and the relationship he is building with new cornerbacks coach Will Harris.

DJ’s father, Damien Pickett Sr., spoke with Inside the Gators about the visit and the recruiting process.

“It wasn’t our first, second, third, or fourth visit to Florida,” said Damien Pickett Sr of their trip to Gainesville this past Friday. “We knew going into it that there wouldn’t really be nothing new to see. The trip was more for us to get a chance to sit back and talk and get to know Coach Harris. We did talk to Coach [Billy] Napier too, but the trip was more to show goodwill to Coach Harris. To let him know that we are men of our word. I told him when he came to the [high] school that I would do everything in my power to get my son back up on campus, and that’s what that was.”

With Harris having been hired by Florida only months ago, he has some ground to make up on some of the other coaches involved here who have known the Pickett family for years.

“It was to sit down with Coach Harris and talk to him more. My son had a great relationship with Coach [Corey] Raymond, who was there before, but since Coach Harris has been there he’s been on the fly, out recruiting and spring ball, and this was the first chance to allow him to do his job, talk to my son. It was more of a relationship-building visit.”

While the family is being recruited mostly by defensive back coaches, and though Pickett is listed as a cornerback, he has the skill set to make an impact on offense.

Playing both ways is a subject that a couple of college coaches have talked about as well.

“Honestly, we’ve talked to a few of the schools about playing him on both sides of the ball,” explained Pickett Sr. “There’s probably about three schools, for sure, that have spoken to us about playing both sides of the ball at the next level. It’s something that interests him.”

With official visit season right around the corner, Pickett has visits set with LSU (5/31), Georgia (6/7), Miami (6/14) and Oregon (6/21).

Of those four, when you start to look at which programs may have an in with Pickett, LSU stands out because of his longstanding relationship with Corey Raymond, and then Miami because his cousin Booker Pickett signed with the Hurricanes in the last cycle.

Does that give either program an advantage?

“Honestly, we have a great relationship with Coach Raymond. That helps to have someone you know and trust. With Booker, not really. My nephew is his own person. He’s a rush end, and Miami is known for that, then his mom and my brother went there, they’re both alumns, so when Miami came for him, it was hard for him to tell them no. Us, not so much (laughs). They [brother and sister-in-law] are our ace in the hole. They tell us off the record, the ins and outs. Any questions we have about Miami, we have them to fill us in.”

Regardless of existing relationships and set visit dates, those four listed above won’t be the only official visits he takes and shouldn’t be construed as being his final four.

“Florida State and Florida will always be talked about in his top schools, and you can put UCF in there too,” said Pickett Sr. “We’re from Florida, so we hold the state of Florida in high regard. We want all of them to be able to sell their pitch to him, because this is home. Don’t count out any of the Florida schools.”

The Gators are in the process of setting up an official visit date.

“Florida definitely will,” replied Pickett Sr. when asked if FSU, UF, or UCF would be getting an official visit. “We were looking at Florida in the original four summer visits but those schools [that have OVs set] had the dates available that all fell into the right place for us. We’re working on trying to set a visit to Florida for the season right now.”

If things are going well on the field, Florida getting that later, in-season visit, could work to the Gators’ advantage as Pickett will make his announcement on October 5th.

By that time, UF could either be on a roll, or it could be more of the same rut they’ve been in for three straight years.

Regardless, when the time comes, according to Pickett Sr., the family knows what they are looking for with the choice.

“We’re going to make the best decision for him based on academics, our ability to see him and be involved. We’re going to do our due diligence. I know y’all get tired of hearing that, but the reality is we’re going to take these visits and we’re going to watch a few games during the season to see which school gives him the best feel as far as the atmosphere, the academic support team, the fan base, where he can get on the field the quickest and be developed as a football player and young man. That’s what’s important to us.”

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