One of the bigger storylines surrounding Florida’s spring practices has been the number of highly-touted prospects who have stopped by for visits.
Five-star prospects Kayvon Thibodeaux and Trey Sanders both made trips to Florida during the first couple of practices. The school has also hosted the likes of Derick Hunter, Will Putnam, Mycah Pittman and Evan Neal.
And last week, Florida had two days to showcase its campus and facilities to one of the best running backs in the country: John Emery Jr.
The 6-foot, 200-pound running back from Destrehan (La.) arrived to Gainesville on Friday, where he was able to take a tour around campus and see the Gators play Arkansas in baseball.
The next day, Emery checked out some of Florida’s facilities and got to watch the team practice. Emery was impressed with the intensity of how the coaches ran the practice and the mentality of the players on the field.
“I loved the intensity and how they go after it,” said Emery. “I talked to a lot of players. They were just letting me know that the coaching staff meant a lot to the community and for them, practice-wise, the energy changed. That meant a lot. I like how they go after it, no stopping. Got to be great.”
Emery also took notice of how engaged running backs coach Greg Knox was in teaching his pupils. After practice, Emery said that he spent some time personal time with the coach in his office.
“He was just explaining how he would utilize me,” Emery said of Knox. “He explained how good the program is. We had a nice little one-on-one time. Knox, he’s a great guy.”
Although Knox did not talk about the competition the Gators currently have at the running back position, Emery said Knox told him that Jordan Scarlett is practicing like he will be the starter for the team.
After his talk with Knox, it was head coach Dan Mullen's chance to pitch his program to Emery.
Emery and his family spent about 30 minutes with coach Mullen in his office, and he said that Mullen was honest with all of them.
“He was giving us a lot of motivation and keeping it real with us,” Emery said of Mullen. “Coach Mullen, he kept it real though. He let us know he’s going to give it to you hard and hardcore. That’s really about it.”
On Friday, a week after he arrived to Florida, Emery released a list of the top eight schools that he is considering via Twitter (see below), which included the Gators.
The Louisiana prospect said that his visit to the school elevated his interest in considering them.
“Oh, absolutely,” Emery said of whether his visit to Florida helped their chances. “Before I took the visit, I had interest in taking a visit and expecting everything that I expected. I love Florida. I love the community. I love the fans. Having all those fans at the practice, that showed a lot to me. I like the support. Support is major to me… but, most definitely, taking the visit boosted my interest.”
Emery does not know when or where he will be taking his official visits, but he says that he intends on going to a Florida home game during the season.
Other than Florida the list includes Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi State, Southern Cal and Tennessee.
THE INSIDE SCOOP: It's only one visit, so it's too early to really handicap Florida's chances. Now, if the Gators do indeed get him back on campus for a game this season, then this is definitely a prospect worth watching.