William Barnes is no stranger to Gainesville. The Scout 100 offensive tackle has taken several trips to see Florida in the last year, however, on Saturday it was like seeing the Gators in a new light.
"It was a great trip. I really enjoyed myself," said the Apopka Senior high standout. "I talked to [UF head] coach Mac [ Jim McElwain] and coach [Brad] Davis, the new offensive line coach. I could tell he [Davis] is a really good guy. I know he is going to take care of me if I do go up there. It was just awesome, spending time with my family and spending time with the coaches at the basketball game. It was really fun."
Barnes was initially recruited by former UF assistant Mike Summers, who is now the offensive line coach at Louisville. Although Barnes admits he was surprised by Summers' departure from the program last month, things have not changed in regards to his perception of Florida.
"I still feel the same about Florida, like before when coach Summers left," said the four-star offensive lineman. "It did catch me off guard a little bit, but then I started talking to coach Davis and it definitely brought it back to one of my top schools. He is a really great coach, and I can really see myself playing for a coach like him.
"I felt confident in him [Davis] because of the way he talked to me and my family,"Barnes added, "and how he explained himself and just told me his backstory and how he got to where he is. I just felt like a bond between us...I feel like he wants to to get to know more me and my family and I really appreciate that."
Although Barnes and his family spent plenty of time with Davis they also spent some time with McElwain and former Apopka standout and current Gators offensive lineman, Martez Ivey.
Coach Mac's message was "come here, there is a family here," said Barnes."It was good talking to Tez again. He says it is a great place. He goes there everyday and he goes up there and he works, and I would love to be just like him one day."
This visit also had another first for the Barnes family. Although they have seen the campus on previous visits, this was the first opportunity to see Florida's newest addition, the Otis Hawkin Center at Farrior Hall.
"The new academic center they have there really stood out for me. I really enjoyed taking a look at that and how they bring academics to the next level. So me and my parents really enjoyed seeing that," said Barnes. "It's a great environment at Florida, and I just love it up there. It is really nice up there."
The 6-foot-4, 285 pounder stated above that Florida is one of his top schools. However, Barnes is the ninth ranked offensive tackle on Scout in the 2018 class and the Gators are not the only school vying to land the top lineman. In fact, he has plenty of suitors fighting for him. In addition to UF, "North Carolina, FSU, Ohio State, and Auburn are definitely some top schools."
Barnes has just begun taking visits. He is expected to head to South Florida to check in with Miami next week for a junior day.
"They had a great season last year, I think, with them winning that last game," said Barnes about the Canes. "I just really enjoy watching them, and then talking to coach Stacy [Searls], he is a great offensive line coach, and I really do enjoy talking with him."
Although Barnes had started to take visits and is expected to take more, do not expect this four-star lineman to make a decision any time soon. He has one focus and it does not concern making or sticking to a commitment deadline.
"My focus is on getting my team to where they need to be. We are going to get back to the state championship this year, and I want to help my team to get there," he explained. "It's like what my coaches say, it will all come. I just need to focus on the team and what I need to do for me team. With recruiting it will come easy, I just need to focus on that.
"I think I may take it a little easy. I plan to announce probably after my senior year."