Photo by Rosemary White

The Inside Scoop: An in-depth, behind the scenes look at early entry move-in day

January 6, 2019
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Inside the Gators received such a positive response to our Behind the Scenes look at an Official Visit, we decided to see if lightening would strike twice by offering our membership an in-depth look at early enrollee freshman move-in day.

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THE PRELUDE

The living conditions provided to Florida football players has been often discussed over the last decade or so - mostly in not so positive terms.

When Florida added the Heavener Complex, the front door of Florida Gators football, which included doubling the size of the refurbished weight room and updated football offices and a Gator Room to host visiting prospects, back in 2008 the state of the student-athlete dorms - which were built over 20 years ago - were even more of a concern. 

When it became public that former Florida football coach Will Muschamp was negatively by comparing Florida’s dorms to those at Auburn, the Gator Nation was aghast. It may not have been easy to hear, but he was correct, compared to other top programs, Florida had fallen behind when comparing the dorms on campus to those elsewhere.

In our own Anonymous Player Parting Thoughts last summer, he brought up the fact that friends at Florida State referred to the dorms where Florida players lived as Section Eight and Hud Housing.

Then in 2015 Florida refurbished the Keys Residential Complex - redoing the interior -, but obviously there are limits to what you can do with an existing building.

However, while they may not be luxurious or on par with the new modern complexes found at other schools, they are better than what they were.

CAPTION: Jim McElwain’s tweet of the floor plan of the refurbished dorms

After a player has been on campus for two years they are permitted to find housing off campus. Until then, all incoming freshmen are required to live in Keys.

Which brings us to last week when it was move in day for the early entry signees in the Class of 2019.

Rosemary White, the mother of Florida offensive line signee Ethan White, was kind enough to share her experience of moving her son into the Keys as an early entry signee with a detailed update combined with a photo blog. 

THE EARLY YEARS - GETTING TO THE HERE AND NOW

Ethan was not allowed to play football until he was 10 years old. I felt that was an appropriate age for his body to be able to handle the rigors of the game. He was an average size baby weighing 7 pounds, but by the time he was five months old he weighed 30 pounds.

Ethan was always the biggest kid on every field he ever played on. Because of my small stature I was constantly asked if I was really his mom and could i provide his birth certificate.

When he was born, something told me he was destined for greatness.

He had to be put into the gifted program in second grade cause he was bored at school.

It was in the ninth grade that I truly knew he was making football his career

He did not get his first offer until the 10th grade. I can remember how worried he would be when he would come home and say, ‘Mom no one has given me a college offer yet.’ I told him not to worry, that it would come soon enough

He is a special mix of brawn and brains, hence the offers from such schools as Duke. 

I believe he became tired of all the offers, interviews and phone calls that he received, so when he was ready to commit, he made a very strong commitment to Florida early on.

CAPTION: Ethan White and his younger brother

CAPTION: Ethan was always the largest player on the team

GETTING READY FOR THE BIG DAY

I started to prepare for Ethan to move out approximately one month before he left. I slowly bought all the he needed with the help of my mom as well.

With my emotions running wild, it was hard to keep track of everything I needed to get, thank goodness for the checklist.

CAPTION: A PHOTOSHOPPED CHECKLIST AT THE TOP OF WHAT ETHAN BROUGHT WITH HIM

We loaded the vehicle an hour before we were to leave on Thursday evening for his Friday morning check-in.

I debated on what time to leave that night, wanting to get to our hotel with enough time left to sit and talk with my son. At the same time not wanting to leave early to give him as much time at home as possible.

Throughout the day I had been texting with Jesiah Pierre’s mom Marie and Jalon Jones’ mom Tanya about what time we were all getting there. Tanya told me there was some kind of accident on Interstate 75, so I decided to leave at 8 p.m.

It was not until much later did we learn about the horrific accident that happened just hours before we were on the road. I truly felt the Lord was watching over us.

We encountered no traffic and made it safely.

We got to our hotel late Thursday night. The next morning we checked in at the Hawkins Center greeted by Ms. Ann Hughes.

The first freshman we saw when we arrived was Jesiah and his mom Marie - which gave me a feeling of warmth and relief, Next came Jalon and his mom Tanya.

And the Gator Mom Trouble Club began!

MOVING INTO THE DORMS

We checked in on time and Ethan was handed his list of to do items.  The process was made so easy, and with the help of Shawnee Sellers and Ann Hughes we were way ahead of schedule.  

CAPTION: It was a busy first day for the freshmen

CAPTION: Orientation goes all the way through next Sunday

We were the first ones to move into the dorm.  For me it was a moment of realization that my son was opening the door not only to his new home, but also opening the door to independence and a new chapter in his life. 

CAPTION: Ethan at the front desk picking up his key card

As you enter the dorm you walk are in the kitchen, looking directly ahead to the living room area and then off to the right is the hallway leading to the bedrooms and the bathrooms.

The common area has what you see here, couches, a dining table and chairs, flat screen television and side tables

CAPTION: The common room in the shared living area

CAPTION: A look at the kitchen area

The kitchen is more than adequate for young men just learning to be on their own.  Glass top stove, full sized fridge, microwave.  Just like home.

Down the hallway leading to the bedrooms are two bathrooms with a shared vanity area in-between

CAPTION: The bathrooms

The bedroom consists of an extra long twin bed with storage space located underneath, a desk and an open closet space.

CAPTION: Ethan’s new bedroom

CAPTION: Ethan’s dorm room pre-unpacking stage

CAPTION: It didn’t take long to get his bedroom in order

It did not take us long, within an hour Ethan was unpacked and set!  Team work makes the dream work!

CAPTION: Home-sweet-home

On a scale of 1-to-10 I would rate the dorm rooms an 8. They are everything that a student needs to learn how to live on their own without being frivolous. 

ONE LAST NIGHT OUT

Later that night the GATOR MOM dream team took our boys out to dinner.  We gave last minute pep talks, set expectations ane reminded our boys that above all else they were a representation of us as mothers, and of an amazing school that has given them a world of opportunities.

CAPTION: Jalon Jones, Ethan White and Jesiah Pierre

CAPTION: A ‘Gator Family’ photo

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