JACKSONVILLE, Fla. | The third annual Rivals250 Underclassmen Challenge was held on Saturday at EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, and potentially some future NFLers. There were several athletes on hand for the event that had the Florida Gators on their radar.
Williams has a Strong Day
Despite having more then a year and a half remaining before he will sign his Letter of Intent, Washington (D.C.) Archbishop Carroll 2016 offensive tackle Jauan Williams has been a household name along the recruiting trail for quite a while now. His name will only become more prevalent after he was named one of the top offensive performers on Saturday.
"I just wanted to prove I am one of the best in the nation in my class," said Williams post camp. "I just wanted to show my punches are strong and I am quick even though I've put on some weight."
Currently the 6-foot-6, 270-pounder has a who's who of college football programs pursuing him, holding over two dozen offers. Early on in his recruiting process he is viewing all schools as even.
"I don't really have anyone sticking out right now," said Williams. "Everyone is really even right now with me."
Going forward Williams is looking to visit Ohio State and Alabama sometime this summer and also has interest in getting to Florida and Florida State as well, if possible.
"Florida was the team I grew up watching and I have always just really liked them," said Williams. "They have always been a good team and I just hope to get down there for a visit. I might get to FSU sometime this summer too. They have been after me pretty hard."
Merritt on Gators Radar
Like his Archbishop Carroll teammate Williams, 2016 offensive tackle Richard Merritt also has a ton of early offers from some of the top college football programs in the nation. At this point, Merritt is adamant that he isn't ready to name a leader or cut down his list. However, he did note a few schools were sticking out to him.
"A couple schools that stick out to me are Alabama, Florida State, Auburn, and West Virginia," said Merritt. "I am open to every school because recruiting is just starting for me, but I like those schools."
The Florida Gators extended an offer earlier this spring, shortly after a visit to his school by area recruiter Brian White at his school. According to Merritt the Gators have made it known they will be coming after the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder.
"They [Florida] told my coach they would love to have me and I could come down there and play early if I work hard and they like my work ethic," Merritt told Inside the Gators. "They had coaches down in the spring for workouts and they really liked how hard I work."
Going forward Merritt doesn't have any college visits set in stone before the start of the school year. However, he does hope to check out a few campuses close to home if it can be worked out.
"I am trying to visit some schools closer to home like Penn State, Virginia Tech, Virginia, North Carolina and N.C. State. Places like that I would like to get to before school starts."
There is no timetable for the DMV big man to make a commitment, but the school that hopes to grab the upper hand will need to show Merritt that there is an opportunity for early playing time.
"I would love to go to a school that I could play as a true freshman or even just get some playtime in a few games and then be in a spot to maybe start my sophomore year. I want to go into the league too one day, so that is something I will want to a place that can get me ready for the NFL."
Salomon High On Six
One of the more physically gifted pass catchers at the Rivals250 Underclassman Challenge on Saturday was Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat Catholic 2016 wide out Darnell Salomon.
Heading into the event Salomon was already highly regarded, and that only made him more determined to showcase his abilities on the big stage.
"They had me as one of the top players coming into the event so I wanted to come in and show out," said Salomon. "I think my size and my speed combined with my hands is what is going to make me stand out."
So far the 6-foot-3, 180-pounder has visited a few campus this summer and isn't looking to slow things down before the start of his junior year.
"Next week we are going on a trip to Alabama, LSU and maybe Auburn," said Salomon of future visits. "Those are places that my teammates and I want to get to."
Growing up Salomon said that the Florida Gators are the team he cheered for on Saturday's, and they are a school the junior-to-be is remains high on.
"They are still up there," said Salomon of the Gators. "They told me a little bit about their new offensive coordinator and like that he is cool. I talk to their DB coach [Travaris Robinson] because he's been the one recruiting me and I like him a lot."
The Gators aren't the only school sitting in a good place for Salomon as he noted five others he is highly interested in as well.
"I like Clemson, Florida State, Alabama, LSU, UM and Florida," said Salomon of standouts. "I am real close with those coaches and I have visited a lot of those schools."
Florida After 2016 Athlete Smith
St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood athlete Saivion Smith worked out mainly at cornerback in Jacksonville and was one of the top defenders in attendance at the end of the day.
Last month Smith made a trip up to Gainesville to camp with the Gators and came very impressed with what UF has to offer.
"They really like me a lot," said Smith. "I talk to Coach T-Rob [Robinson] and I actually spoke to him right before the start of the dead period. He is showing me a lot of love right now."
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder also got a chance to talk with a few players while on his visit to UF.
"I talked to Jalen Tabor a little bit when I was at camp and I talked to Vern [Vernon Hargreaves III] because he is from the Tampa area. Dante Fowler is family too. He's my cousin and he just tells me to make sure my grades are straight and worry about recruiting later. He said Florida is a nice place to be and he loves it there."
Going forward Smith is looking to make a return visit to Gainesville again possibly this week and also has tentative plans to be in Tallahassee as well.
"I think I am going to Florida on Wednesday with [2015 Rivals250 wide receiver] Ryan Davis," said Smith. "He is looking to visit then so I may ride with him. We might visit Florida State too sometime before school starts too."