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Florida Football Recruiting

Five-star leaves Florida with a favorable impression of the Gators

October 6, 2019
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The Florida Gators had a myriad of reasons to celebrate this past weekend. 

Along with their 24-13 upset over then No. 7 Auburn and four-star offensive tackle Issiah Walker‍’s announced commitment, they were elated to have Las Vegas (Nev.) Desert Pines five-star tight end Darnell Washington‍ on campus for an official visit during his high school team’s bye week. 

Washington, the No. 11 ranked prospect in the nation according to the 247 Sports Composite, last visited Gainesville back in the spring for the Orange & Blue Game, where upon leaving he seemingly was still considering multiple schools, none of which were named Florida. 

However, this weekend served as a possible turning point in his recruiting process. 

"The school is great, the game was great, the atmosphere was great, and so far everything has been great,” Washington said. 

What impressed him most was how the team deployed their tight ends. 

"I like how they went twelve personnel with [Kyle] Pitts and number 7 [Lucas Krull]," Washington said. "I just like how they use Pitts a lot and I think he had like 6 or 8 catches. I just like how they use the tight ends."

Washington repeatedly emphasized that one of the largest factors leading to his decision involves how teams utilize his position. 

Against Auburn, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts had eight receptions for 65 yards - and currently leads the team with three touchdowns this season. 

When Washington made his visit to Athens in September, the lack of production from those at his projected position left him with a sour taste in his mouth. 

"It's good to see tight ends like me, that's in college now. I can see how they would use a tight end like me,” Washington said. “I don't know what category I fall in, if that's a receiving tight end or what a school would want me to do. Schools that actually have it down, and are actually using it that way, it's an eye-opener. Any school that is good at creating mismatches, and would put me on a linebacker because they are slower than me in my eyes."

Washington was hard-pressed to divulge what he spoke about with players but did mention that he had an opportunity to briefly speak with Pitts, who also served as his player host. 

"We just had a little small talk, and he seems like a smart dude," Washington said of Pitts. "Seeing him on the field and how he runs his routes, you can see his awareness and his IQ on the field."

He also included that he had spoken with tight ends coach Larry Scott, who’s pitch revolved around distinguishing what’s “real and fake.”

“[He said to] recognize the real, because all the recruiting stuff goes out the window when you sign the papers. He was just telling me what I see now is what I am going to get if I signed those papers here," Washington said. 

So far, Washington has made official visits to Florida and Georgia. He has one more scheduled visit in the SEC and is considering his options for his final visit. 

"I don't really know the order, but I think I got Bama at LSU, and that's the only one for sure locked in so far. The other two, we still are going by. It's all shifting, the other two I am just going to throw out some options. Tennessee, Miami, Penn State, LSU. Somewhere," Washington said. 

Washington has yet to allude to what team will get his signature but with the atmosphere the Swamp provided, Florida is making a convincing argument in his favor. 

“I was looking at games, and this was the game of the week, Game Day was here. It was worth it. I saw a different atmosphere and the stadium was basically sold out. It was crazy seeing all the fans and the die-hard fans here. I hung out with more of the players and saw the coaches' reactions to when it's a real game," Washington said.

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