Jesuit (Fla.) tight end Jonathan Odom had an impressive offer list heading into his senior year of high school. But after attending the Great Gator Grill Out, he pledged his commitment to Florida, canceled all of his remaining visits and never looked back.
In this edition of Getting to Know, Odom dives deep into his recruitment, why he feels he can be a weapon and heir apparent to Kyle Pitts and some unexpected fun facts.
Let's lead it off with what are you doing during this lock-down? What are you doing on a daily basis?
“Since all the gyms are closed down, I’ve been training and running routes with a guy I know but for my own workouts, I have a treadmill, a StairMaster, dumbbells and about a 100-yard field in my backyard. Even push-ups and sit-ups are good for me right now. I still have my workout plan from Florida so I do conditioning like stuff that I was doing every day, but it’s not the same, obviously, as getting to work out on campus. I’m ready for that to happen.”
Take us through the process that led to your commitment. What was that experience like for you?
“My dad (former Gators offensive tackle Jason Odom) had nothing to do with my decision. My dad didn’t even want me to go to Florida because he didn’t want me to feel like I went there for him. But after going to schools like Alabama, LSU and Ohio State, I saw how well Coach [Dan] Mullen and Coach [Larry] Scott treated the players and the way Mullen uses his tight ends speaks for himself. Plus, Kyle Pitts has a great offensive mind. The night before I committed to Florida, I was actually planning my Alabama official visit. I had just come back from LSU and just come back from Ohio State. I told all the other coaches I was committed and thanked them for their time, but I was all in with Florida.”
What was the most appealing part to you about the University of Florida?
“The recruitment process wasn’t smoke and mirrors. They tell you that you have to work for what you get and that’s what I like. I never shied away from my commitment once it happened and I even canceled all my official visits.”
Which school came in second for you and why?
“Probably my second was a three-way tie between Alabama, LSU and Ohio State.”
What was the craziest, strangest or weirdest moment of the recruiting cycle?
“I wouldn’t say the weirdest, but the most “wow this is a business” moment for me was meeting Nick Saban. That was one of the craziest moments. It was like “We love you, but if you don’t come here, we’ll be fine” It was kind of my wake-up call. He was probably the second-most honest coach.”
If there is one thing you could change about the recruiting process, what would it be?
“I wish it was a little more spread out. Like I didn’t really start getting looks until my junior year because I had injuries my sophomore spring which is when I was supposed to “get big.” I didn’t want to go into my senior year uncommitted. I really had about four months to look for the perfect school for me.”
If you could play a sport outside of football, which sport would it be?
“Basketball. I played for a long time, but I got injured and that made me stop playing. I got a stress fracture in the foot, which kept me from playing basketball or football in Spring. Basketball players also have the most guaranteed money.”
What is your favorite football memory?
“There’s probably two. I didn’t start playing football until high school. I played flag but not tackle until ninth grade. I was one of two freshmen on varsity, and I was raw. I grew from like 5-foot-9 to like 6-foot-3, and I was clumsy. But my sophomore year, we played our annual rivalry game with Tampa Catholic – a school we hadn’t lost to in 20 years. It was packed and I ended up having two touchdowns and a 100+ yard receiving game. There’s even a freeze-frame of me catching the ball with my hand pointing up and the entire crowd in the back. That was awesome. The other memory is Webber Camp. We stayed for like three days and I met Gervon [Dexter] there. It’s a really fun time with your team.”
What would you say are some of your greatest strengths as a football player? What do you need to work on?
“My biggest strength is that I feel like there are not a lot of tight ends who are traditional Gronk types who can block and catch and do both at a high level. I think I’m very prepared and I’ll never really have to come off the field because I can do both. I feel like that makes me a weapon.
“What I need to work on is polishing routes, blocking technique and really everything. Going to the college level and being dominant. I’m gonna go up there and learn as much as I can. I had a big injury my senior year that hurt upper body strength and now everything that’s going on has hindered my recovery process. But I’m ready to get there and work. If you don’t work a lot, you’re never gonna be good.”
Who is the prospect that you have talked to the most from the Class of 2020?
“Gerald Mincey. We met because we played Cardinal Gibbons two years ago and we developed a really close relationship. I’m probably gonna live with him and [Derek] Wingo, but now I’m not sure when we’re going up because we were all supposed to be going up for Summer A.”
If you could pick any jersey number, what would it be?
“87. They already told me I have it.”
Which NFL player do you liken yourself to the most?
“Gronk [Rob Gronkowski]. He’s also the person who I’d want to meet the most.”
What is your major?
“Business and finance. One is going to be a major.”
If you a chance to go on a dream date, who would it be with?
“Either Victoria Justice, Ariana Grande or Kim Kardashian.”
What would be your first purchase if you got drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft?
“I always told my mom I was going to buy her an RV with my first NFL check and then after that, for myself, I would get a house and a nice car. My dream is a nice pick-up truck and one nice sports car.”
What is one item that you cannot live without it?
“My phone, easily! Other than that, it would be my shoes or my PS4 or my chain.
What is your favorite professional football team?
“My dad played for the Bucs for like 6 years so obviously I’m a Bucs fan, but my favorite time to watch NFL football was when the Seahawks had Marshawn Lynch, Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson, and I’ve always loved the head coach, Pete Carroll.”
Who has been the biggest role model for you in your life?
“That’s a tough question. I have a lot of different role models from different things but probably my dad the most because of our similar paths, but my grandpa too. He even came on all 25 of my visits, which was really cool.”
What are your favorite types of music? Do you have a favorite artist or song?
“I have a well-rounded music taste. I love rap and country, but I listen to a lot of Michael Jackson. My two favorite rappers (Kodak Black and NBA Youngboy) are having the biggest beef right now so I’m very torn. For country, Blake Shelton. Every song is a gem. He doesn’t put out a bad song. I like DaBaby too but he hasn’t been around long enough to be one of my favorites.”
What is your favorite movie?
“National Treasure, but I watch a lot of movies. Every movie with Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Together they make amazing movies.”
What is your favorite TV show?
“I’ve been watching La Casa de Papel and Ozark right now, but my favorite show is Dexter.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
“Starting off in the NFL, plans to start some sort of business like I want something besides football, and hopefully on my path to success in life.
What are the three things on your bucket list?
“Skydiving, traveling the world including all 50 states in the U.S. and to meet Logan Paul. When I was younger, I watched him every day on YouTube, so my childhood dream was to meet him.”
What is one thing about you that the Gator Nation would be surprised to find out about?
“I am very very good at chess! One of my high school teachers challenged me and we made a bet and I ended up beating him.