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Imagine waking up at 6 a.m. in the morning and you hear your phone ringing. You go to pick it up and on the other end of the line is a Southern gentleman wanting to talk football. At first you might be a little nervous, but if you were Mobile (Ala.) Davidson tight end/defensive end Gabe McKenzie, that was a call you were expecting.
McKenzie received a call early Wednesday morning from Florida offensive line coach Joe Wickline right before he was headed out the door to school.
“He told me when they get the chance to call me, I would be the first,” McKenzie said. “I am real familiar with him. I have been down there on a visit and we know each other. He is a real good coach. We just talked about me being a Gator, going to see a couple of their games and to come see him. I am thinking that is going to be the first place that I am going to take an official visit to.”
Miami, Georgia, Auburn and Florida State also phoned McKenzie by 9 p.m. Wednesday with LSU buzzing in during this interview.
While McKenzie mentioned that UF would more than likely be his first official visit, he did not yet set up a date with Wickline. But he does plan to take an unofficial visit for the LSU game and travel to Tallahassee for the yearly showdown with FSU.
After his visit to UF in July, McKenzie moved UF to the top of his list, but do they still rank atop his list almost a month and a half later?
“I have a No. 1 and everybody is like No. 2,” he said. “Florida is still my No. 1, then No. 2 is Georgia, Auburn, Miami, Oklahoma and I am starting to look at Notre Dame.”
While Wickline has helped UF to a No. 1 ranking atop McKenzie's list, McKenzie also likes the tight end depth chart at UF:
Florida: “They have great players and great leaders. I like all the coaches and all of them were real, real nice. They tell me what they need in their program and how to get there. They have a great leader now in Chris Leak, and they put out a really good tight end last year. Their depth chart they have about 6-7 tight ends, and probably if I do go there, they will have like 3-4 by the time I get there.”
Miami: “They have the top tight ends in the nation, and they have the best in the NFL right now.”
Oklahoma: “They usually produce some big-time tight ends.”
Auburn: “They have been talking about their new West Coast offense and how they are supposed to be using a tight end way more than they did.”
Florida State: “They are saying that they are trying to put a tight end offense out there, so all I can do is listen and see what is going on. I am going to go to a game and look at them on the T.V.”
Aside from visiting UF this summer, McKenzie also appeared on the campuses of Auburn, Alabama, FSU and LSU.
Earlier this week McKenzie was shocked when two army cadets stopped by his school to deliver him a notice stating that he is one of 400 players being considered for the U.S. Army All-American game in January. Therefore, if he is invited to play in that game, he might postpone a verbal commitment until then.
McKenzie helped his team open the season with a win last week as he had a 21-yard touchdown reception, six tackles and a sack. Wickline said he would take in one of McKenzie's games this year, but on Friday when Davidson squares off against Montgomery, Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville is scheduled to be in attendance. McKenzie hinted that Tuberville making an early appearance is going to help the Tigers down the road.
“It is motivation for me,” McKenzie said. “It shows that they want me and it makes you play better.”
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