Ricky Slade is no stranger to Florida’s campus. Two years ago, the 2018 four-star running back made the trek down to visit the Gators for Friday Night Lights. On Thursday, Slade decided to return to Gainesville to participate in the camp once again.
"It’s like no other camp,” said the Virginia native. "It’s a really fun camp. Last one I was kind of young, I was in a shell and this time I was out there having fun and doing what I love to do.”
Slade, along with his father, Ricky Slade Sr., his C.D. Hilton Head Coach, Tony Lilly, and two of his teammates, drove down to Gainesville on Thursday to start a two day visit with the Gators.
"It was fantastic. I’m just trying to find the word for it. It was amazing. I can see myself living there [in Florida]."
Although this is not his first trip to UF, this was Slade’s first opportunity to meet with Jim McElwain and his staff.
"They talk to you a lot more,” he said. "I’m not bashing that staff at all. They just act like they have been together for a long time. They have that connection with you, and they are just a really cool staff.”
The message from the staff was pretty simple.
"They mentioned, I don’t know how many times, how much they wanted me, what they wanted to do with me when I got down here. We went over some run schemes and met with all the coaches.”
He spent a lot of time learning more about running backs coach Tim Skipper.
"He knows what he is doing,” said Slade. "He has time for fun but he gets business done. Loves you a lot but coaches you hard.”
But this was also an opportunity to see a familiar face. Slade knew UF assistant, Torrian Gray, when the defensive back coach was at Virginia Tech. Although Slade admitted it was “funny” to see Gray in Florida gear, it was great to connect with the coach on the visit.
"We had that connection at Tech and now since he is here we still have that connection at Florida,” he said. "It’s the same deal here. It’s that Virginia connection.”
Slade has another connection to the UF program in his head coach. Lilly played for the Gators in the 80s, before he was drafted by the Denver Broncos.
"The whole car ride down he was telling me things,” Slade joked. "Florida is all that he talks about."
Scout’s No. 2 running back in his class is already planning this return to Gainesville.
"I am going to get back down here next year, hopefully,” said Slade. "Definitely coming back."
The visit certainly propelled the Gators in the list of several suitors.
"They are up there. "Far up there,” he said. "Once I have a to ten they are really going to be up there”
There are several schools that are expected to make the cut when the talented playmaker trims his list. "Penn State, Tech, Florida, Tennessee, UNC they are up there.”
However, do not expect a decision to come quickly.
"I’m going to wait until the last possible second, because you don’t know what can happen between coaches. I want to make sure everything is right before I commit.”
Slade is not sure about other visits this summer, however, he could possibly visit Ohio State if time and schedule permits.