RECRUITING: UF recruiting O'Hara as Athlete

Linebacker or running back? Running back or linebacker? <p> That's what is going through Paul O'Hara's head every time he starts to think about his college choice. While he's been a record-setting running back at Dixie County (FL) the past four years with more than 5,000 career rushing yards, he got his first taste of playing linebacker in the fall and he liked it.

"If I really had a choice, I think that's where I would play in college," said Paul O'Hara when contacted by GatorCountry.com Wednesday night. "This was my first year at linebacker. I liked it pretty good that I get to hit people instead of always getting hit."

He is being actively recruited by Florida, Marshall, LSU, Maryland and Florida State. Florida and Florida State are recruiting him as an athlete who could play either offense or defense while Maryland, LSU and Marshall are all recruiting him strictly as a running back.

"It really doesn't matter where I play, though," he said. "I just want to be on the field somewhere, but if they let me choose, I'll play defense."

The 6-0, 220-pounder, has two favorites in Florida and Marshall, and he gives Florida the edge because it's close to home and he would have a shot at playing linebacker since the Gators are recruiting him as an athlete.

"Right now, Florida is my favorite," he said. "I haven't had a chance to talk to Coach (Urban) Meyer yet, but I have talked to Coach Heater. He's really a nice guy."

What tips the scales in the Gators way is that the Gators have proven to him they are not afraid to play young players. He said he doesn't mind waiting his turn to play, but he does want a chance to compete for playing time. Florida, he says, would give him that chance.

"They don't care if you're young," he said. "They play a lot of young players and if you can play, it doesn't matter if you're young."

What he looks for in making his college choice are "atmosphere, a good coaching staff and how they help support you in the classroom." From what he's seen so far, he says that Florida has all of those things.

"I'll take my official visit in January," he said. "I'll take all my official visits in January."

He's taken the ACT twice and will take it again in January.

"I need a couple of points," he said, "but I'm confident I'll get them."

Dixie County graduated 18 seniors off last year's team, so this year's team was very young. The Bears didn't go as far in the state playoffs as O'Hara had hoped, but he was satisfied with the season.

"I wanted to win more, but we played hard and we did our best," he said. He said his best game was against Crescent City where he had more than 100 rushing yards and double figures in tackles from his linebacker position.

While the Gators are his leader, he is listening to former UF defensive coordinator Bobby Pruett, for nine years the highly successful head coach at Marshall.

"He's a good coach and I like him a lot," said O'Hara, who says Marshall is his second choice, but "I could be happy there, too."


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