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Florida Football Recruiting

The Inside Scoop: A behind the scenes look at Nick Evers' Florida official visit

June 22, 2021
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Over the years we have talked to an endless number of prospects before and after their official visit to Florida for basically the same update over and over again. What did the coaches have to say to you? What was the highlight? What would you rate the visit on a scale of 1-to-10?

If you have ever actually wondered what goes on during an official visit, for the second cycle in a row an Inside the Gators exclusive takes you behind the scenes of what happens Friday through Sunday on campus during an official visit weekend at the University of Florida.

In the Class of 2019 Rosemary White, the mother of Florida offensive line commit Ethan White, was kind enough to share her experience with us through a detailed update combined with a photoblog. 

For the Class of 2020, Carrieane Wingo, the mother of Florida linebacker commit Derek Wingo‍ gave us an incredibly detailed look at what took place during his official visit back in early December.

Of course, there were no official visits during the last cycle.

However, we are back with a vengeance.

In the third installment of this series, Monica Evers, the mother of Florida quarterback commit Nick Evers, was kind enough to share her experience with us through a detailed update combined with a photoblog. 

I’ve written about three iterations of what I wanted to say, and with each, I kept circling back to the same questions: “What is truly an inside look for readers? How can I do justice to the University of Florida and convey through words and pictures what we experienced?”  So, let me just start by saying,

The entire experience was like a great family reunion.

With 13 recruits and their family members attending—likely one of the largest official visit weekends ever— the Florida coaches and support staff didn’t miss a beat in making us feel both at home and catered to…a tough combination.  There were no unintended lulls in the programming, no weird interactions among new acquaintances…it was just easy and natural.  While that is a testament to the care and attention of the UF staff and coaches, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give credit to the recruits and families in attendance.  

There is no amount of planning, preparation, and execution that can manufacture the atmosphere that our family felt during our official visit (OV).  Like I said earlier, it just felt natural.  This leads me to believe the concept of family is not only a core value for each person in attendance, but it’s also at the heart of The Swamp.  We all just clicked.  Scroll for details to our only in Gator Nation® experience.

SUMMER KICKOFF BBQ TUESDAY JUNE 1st

This was a long time coming and Nick didn’t want to miss this chance to do his part to help welcome recruits, especially since it was the first time any of us could set foot on campus and interact with coaches in well over a year.  From a stadium experience on the jumbotron and tours to the player pics and the Sonny’s Barbecue, the coaches and staff took care of everyone’s needs as if we were all Heisman Trophy winners.  Best $10 per person we ever spent.

Monica Evers
THE IPF SET UP FOR THE SUMMER KICKOFF BBQ

 

Monica Evers
NICK EVERS WITH CJ SMITH AND JAYDEN GIBSON AT THE SUMMER KICKOFF RECRUITING EVENT


OFFICIAL VISIT FRIDAY JUNE 4th

A huge shout of appreciation to Director of Recruiting Operations Lee Davis for pulling this all together.  Her professionalism is impeccable and she truly made everything look easy.  To Quality Control Assistant Dean Kennedy, thank you for helping our family stay on schedule and catering to our every need.

Most families arrived at Gainesville in clusters from their respective areas of the country.  They were greeted by coaches and UF staff at the airport and shuttled to the Hilton University Conference Center.  Our family was driving in from a short vacation in Clearwater and made it just in time to meet Coach Dan Mullen and his lovely wife, Megan, in the hotel lobby.  From the tasteful array of Orange and Blue, you could certainly tell we were in Gator Country. 

Rooms were warm, welcoming, and filled with everything we could need to fill our time off schedule.  Cake and cookies to lanyards, drinks, and itinerary, we were covered.  UF took the time to customize the atmosphere to each recruit.  Nick had ALL his favorite snacks in his room.  

Monica Evers
A FLORIDA GATOR ORIGAMI ON EACH BED
Monica Evers
SNACKS AND DRINKS AWAIT THE VISITORS UPON CHECKING IN TO THEIR ROOM
Monica Evers
A CUSTOM MADE PLAN FOR SUCCESS FOR EACH VISITOR

Families were shuttled to Dave and Busters in large black SUVs, as if we were a caravan of dignitaries.  Following a full buffet, recruits, families, Gator players and coaches dove into that playful but competitive vibe with unlimited access to games such as laser tag, Nothing But Net and Air Hockey.  Our family met and spoke with Nick’s “Big Brother,” Justin Shorter, before we packed up and headed to Heavener Football Complex where we heard from Nick Savage and Paul Silvestri.  Nick and Paul provided a tour of the facilities, highlighted UF’s training and nutritional resources, and shared the Gator development philosophy.  

Monica Evers
THERE WAS NO DAVE & BUSTERS IN TOWN THE LAST TIME US HOSTED OFFICIAL VISITORS OVER A YEAR AGO
Monica Evers
GAME TIME

To build the tenor of excitement as we moved into our evening activities, families moved to center field at the stadium where we locked-in to the Gator vibe with season highlights on the jumbotron.  I distinctly remember thinking how much I look forward to entering a full stadium and feeling the energy of a packed and vibrant crowd…from the student section.  From the pictures and videos being taken by the others, I knew that was a shared sentiment.  Yes, I plan on Chomping at the visitors’ bench with the rest of the rowdy crowd.  From what I can tell about this group, I won’t be the only one. 

Monica Evers
SEASON HIGHLIGHTS ON THE JUMBOTRON
Monica Evers
DAN MULLEN WATCHING THE HIGHLIGHT PACKAGE WITH HIS FUTURE QUARTERBACK
Monica Evers
MR. EVERS ALONG WITH RECEIVER EVAN STEWART

From the stadium, we headed to an exclusive preview and dinner at Spurrier’s Gridiron Grille at Celebration Pointe.  This soft opening was a special treat as we were able to enjoy the top-notch cuisine and atmosphere in a location not yet open to the public.  Recruits headed out for the evening with their chaperones and parents continued the party at Visor’s on the upper deck.  Music was on pointe from Parliament’s Flashlight to today’s top hits. Put some Cupid’s Shuffle in the mix and there were no statues…this wasn’t an 8th-grade dance, y’all.

Monica Evers
CUPID’S SHUFFLE
Monica Evers
THE PARENTS SPENT FRIDAY NIGHT AT SPURRIER’S NEW PLACE


OFFICIAL VISIT: SATURDAY JUNE 5th

This day was packed.  We had breakfast at Shula’s Restaurant in the hotel and all of us departed for our tours of the campus, dorm, indoor facility, and Otis Hawkins Academic Center. If you ever doubted whether UF prioritized academics for athletes, you should step foot in this $25 million, 82,000 square foot, for-athletes-only center dedicated solely for the purpose of academic excellence.  Recruits also had the opportunity to meet with professors in their area of academic interest before moving to the Champions Club for lunch and the afternoon’s activities, which included photo & video shoots and the name-image-likeness (NIL) presentation by Coach Mullen.  

Monica Evers
DAN MULLEN PRESENTATION
Monica Evers
RENDERINGS OF THE NEW FOOTBALL FACILITY 
Monica Evers
THE OUTDOOR POOL AREA OF THE NEW FOOTBALL FACILITY

There was much to see in a short period of time but the UF staff pulled it off in a stress-free manner and there were several things that really stood out for our family. The Century Tower isn’t just a reference point on the school map but serves to commemorate the school’s centennial anniversary and to honor UF students that have served in the military.  Ringing every hour on the hour, there are also two student performances every weekday in the fall. 

I’m not a ‘bat’ person, but I love the ingenuity of the UF Bat House and Bat Barn following a displacement of these creatures in the burning of Johnson Hall in ’87.  These 250,000 bats consume about a ton of insects a night and it seemed there were no mosquitos in The Swamp. 

Monica Evers
250,000 BATS HELP KEEP INSECTS IN THE AREA UNDER CONTROL

There’s also a new home for UF’s Pride of the Sunshine to practice.  Investing in the University of Florida Fightin’ Gator Marching Band is a no-brainer as they provide so much energy to the entire school, and not just on game days.  The school didn’t cut corners on providing a full-sized replica of the Ben Hill Griffin Stadium field, stadium lighting and a 6500 sq ft covered pavilion for inclement weather.  

In Derrick’s wheelhouse and Nick’s area of interest, it was nice to see the M.E. Rinker, Sr., School of Construction Management.  In lockstep with UF’s standards on academics and investing in students’ futures, it was no surprise this program is ranked #3 in the nation with 100% placement of its graduates. 

Monica Evers
FATHER AND SON LISTEN INTENTLY

Florida was leading the charge and became the first state to approve of NIL legislation so NCAA athletes could carefully position themselves for the July 1, 2021 enactment date. Dan Mullen’s presentation on this topic was both informative and “real.”  You could see the appreciation on the faces of families for his delivery of information and the time dedicated to questions.  Coach Mullen truly cares for the athletes and wants them in the driver’s seat--prepared and protected--as this legislation unfolds.  

Dinner was at Ballyhoo Grill.  With their menu of surf and turf, they met the expectations of all palates. I must give a shout out to their ownership, management and waitstaff for creating a great atmosphere for ALL of us to dine and interact.  We were fed, happy and ready to move the entourage of to Mullen’s house to close the evening.  

 

Monica Evers
DINNER AT BALLYHOOS
Monica Evers
BALLYHOOS

What a party it was!  The players were off with their Big Brothers and the families, coaches and UF staff rendezvoused at the beautiful Mullen house for dessert and a multitude of activities: billiards, basketball, blackjack and poker, and an indoor golf simulator. Megan and Dan were such gracious hosts and fun people to be around.  So fun, they brought in karaoke and asked me to kick it off.  I’m generally an extrovert at everything but I cannot lie…my heart raced a bit before the “why not” kicked-in.  Coach Garrick McGee’s lovely wife, Tiffany McGee, graciously offered to open the antics with me.   She and I went full steam ahead with Lizzo’s Truth Hurts.  There may have been some shock at what just came across their ears, but folks at least came closer as I dusted off a second song, Gretchen Wilson’s Redneck Woman. Soon many daring mothers began making their requests and showing their vocal prowess to tunes from SWV and Beyonce to Billy Squire, Teena Marie, and Grand Master Flash.  We had a couple of bold men get in on the mix and one of them was Dan Mullen!  He chimed in with Guns and Roses’ Sweet Child O’ Mine and Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.  Megan Mullen grabbed a mic herself and together they gave a fun rendition of Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. An added surprise came from one soft-spoken mother of a lauded recruit.  Somewhere in her song, she began to beatbox like a pro!  From the singing and eating to sweating-it-up on the court, young kids swimming and the general splendor of the atmosphere, you would have thought we’d all be donning reunion t-shirts.  

Monica Evers
DAN MULLEN SHARED HIS RENDITION OF DON’T STOP BELIEVING 


OFFICIAL VISIT: SUNDAY JUNE 6th

This day, on the heels of such a great evening, families were energized and ready to reconvene in the Gator Room for a breakfast buffet. Coach Mullen presented UF’s life-after-football program, Gator Made, where he stressed his goals as Head Coach:  winning championships on and off the field.  One thing this recruiting process had taught me is that not every life-after-football program is created equal.  Regardless of size, many schools fall short on a concept that should be inherent for any academic institution.  Gator Made is a best-practice leader of ensuring student-athletes are prepared professionals. 

Monica Evers
BREAKFAST IN THE GATOR ROOM
Monica Evers
THE EVERS FAMILY AND EVAN STEWART AT SUNDAY BREAKFAST

Testimony by the panel of athletes who spoke on their experiences at UF was compelling evidence, alone

If I remember correctly, the coaches backed out of the room. There was some support staff though. Some of the questions: What made you choose UF? Justin Shorter weighed in on that, as did others. Did you feel at home and feel like you had someone to talk to when in need? Players specifically named certain coaches, but most referred to any combination of Mullen, their position coach, Nick Savage and Vernell Brown. Players talked about self-accountability and performing academically. They spoke on how Mullen holds the whole team accountable for poor academic performance. That’s all I can remember. We were behind on schedule and there were plenty of recruits asking questions when we had to break.

Monica Evers
CURRENT FLORIDA PLAYERS SAT FOR A Q&A SESSION WITH THE VISITORS AND PARENTS

Following the athletes’ insights to UF, we set out to meet with staff and coaches for closing discussions.  Vernell Brown, the Director of Student-Athlete Development, is a true asset to the UF program and parents as he is dedicated to help young men transition to campus life and adjust to academic and athletic rigors.  As a previous Gator athlete, team captain, professional, and parent, Vernell understands what it takes to maintain the Gator Standard on and off the field.  While I’m sure I’ll be checking on my baby here and there, my nerves are steadied by knowing Nick has someone like Vernell to help him without coddling him. 

Monica Evers
Caption

We interacted with Dan Mullen and Nick’s position coach, Garrick McGee, many times over the course of our visit.  It was during these interactions and in our closing meetings that I got to witness the authentic bond that Nick often describes with his coaches.  Both expressed their expectations for the team, they shared their excitement about Nick’s talent and trajectory, they provided insight to any detail we wanted to know about UF.  But, it was the inquiries on how Nick is feeling about his senior year of school, his friends, his path, and his expectations that truly relayed to me these men care about developing meaningful relationships with their student-athletes. While football is a harsh game and playing in the SEC is a business, Coach Dan Mullen and Coach Garrick McGee epitomize how successful coaching at any level is about relationships and trust.

Monica Evers
NICK EVERS AND GARRICK MCGEE

If there is anything that any one of the attendees can take with them from this official visit -regardless of their decision - it’s the clear distinction that UF is a family…a family that rolls deep, invests heavily on the welfare of its own, and sets the bar high for the rest.  The University of Florida Alumni Association's slogan states ‘there is no such thing as a former Gator.’  I can’t wait for our son--and our entire unit by association--to officially be a part of this Gator family.  "In all kinds of weather, we'll all stick together...."

Monica Evers
A FINAL GATOR CHOMP FROM THE EVERS FAMILY

 

The Inside Scoop: A behind the scenes look at Nick Evers' Florida official visit

5,293 Views | 7 Replies | Last: 4 mo ago by Dan the Man
From the Swamp
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I love these.

All these great Gator mommas giving us a look at the visits is one of the best parts of being a Gator.

She needed to give us the low down on if Mullen sounds good.

Thank you Evers family for giving us some details on what goes on.
cyclogator
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Good stuff!
iwollf74
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That was a GREAT story!!!!!!!!!!! We really need the football on building completed and more color in the indoor facility,
1bigg8rindade
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Thank you Mrs. Evers for the update on what happens on a visit.

I wish you all would have went on at least one more visit so you compare them and let us know we really stand.

Thank you for the recruiting I see you doing on twitter and for all your son is doing. I don't know where we would be without your family.
JayM
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Thanks so much for sharing this.

As she mentioned, this sort of atmosphere can't be faked and it's comes off terribly when you try to fake it.

This is one of the reasons I'm so glad we have Dan Mullen. Imagine how different this experience would be with McElwain, or Chip Kelly... I'm so happy we didn't end up with Chip Kelly!

Go Gators.
OrangeandBlue
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This is what I don't understand about our recruiting. When I read this it looks like we did a great job. Why aren't we getting more commitments?

Btw great job momma Evers.

You have raised a fine young man. I can't wait to see him in a Gators uniform.
Dan the Man
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From the Swamp said:

I love these.

All these great Gator mommas giving us a look at the visits is one of the best parts of being a Gator.

She needed to give us the low down on if Mullen sounds good.

Thank you Evers family for giving us some details on what goes on.


Me too. All the mothers do a great job putting a positive spotlight on our team.

I can't wait for Evers to get here and represent the orange and blue.
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