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There is no such thing as a lock, a given or a sure thing when it comes to the recruiting process. Right up until the very second they sign and fax in their Letter of Intent, everyone, committed or not, is fair game.
Florida proved that point earlier this week when they stole Hallendale (Fla.) athlete Willie Bailey away from Miami. Now the Gators are being forced to play defense in order to protect one of their own as Alabama, Tennessee and Miami are attempting to make a move on Largo (Fla.) Pinellas Park linebacker Jeremi Powell.
All three programs have extended an offer to the 6-foot-2, 200-pounder and though he remains committed to the Gators, according to Powell, he is actively listening to two of the three.
"It feels good, just the fact that a team like Alabama got after me today - they offered me," said Powell. "I want to be a Gator, but the fact that teams outside of Florida, teams like Alabama and Tennessee, know who I am and are recruiting me, that's kind of wild. It feels good to be wanted."
Powell offered a little insight as to which colleges have been in contact with him.
"Coach [Chris] Rumph from Alabama sent me his number so I could call him. He's trying to get me there to visit the campus and show me what they have to offer. They really liked my highlight tape. It was wild some of the good things he was saying about me. Tennessee, Miami and USF are the ones hitting me up too," said Powell. "I'm not really a Miami fan, so I don't talk to them when they message me or try me."
What exactly are these various coaches telling Powell?
"They're telling me about their defense and since they know I'm committed to Florida they're saying things like, 'you know, that shouldn't stop me from being able to experience recruiting and take a trip to see them'. They're saying things like I made a quick decision and I should do some traveling to see things."
This weekend he will be traveling to Gainesville to take in the Orange & Blue Debut.
"I'm going to Florida for their spring game," said Powell. "I know it's not going to be a live game, but I want to get a feel for how it is. People have tried to explain it to me before, but they said I have to be there to experience it myself."
Despite the interest from other programs, combined with the fact that he plans on taking visits, Powell said that his commitment to Florida is solid.
"I'm about 99% committed to Florida," said Powell. "I'm going to go to Alabama to see a game, because they want me to, but like I told them, I'm Florida, I'm all Florida. I've never been out of the state of Florida in my life. Ever. I'm going to go on my visits if they are going to pay for them. Why wouldn't I go on a free trip? It's an opportunity to travel and see other places."