Portis gets ready to head east after Meyer visit

It is the special relationship that Coach Urban Meyer has developed with quarterback Josh Portis that has the 6-4, 200-pounder from Woodland Hills, California busy packing his belongings for the trip east to Gainesville where he will start classes at the University of Florida soon. When Meyer finished the Fiesta Bowl Saturday night in Tempe, Arizona, he knew exactly where he would be Sunday, his first day without having to split duty between the Gators and the University of Utah.

"Coach Meyer's relationship with Josh is really good," said one of Josh's closest family members, who spoke to GatorCountry.com. Monday afternoon. Coach Meyer visited Portis Sunday, which was his first in-home visit with Josh. Following Utah's Fiesta Bowl victory over Pitt Saturday night, Coach Meyer spent time with his family and then went to California where he spent Sunday afternoon watching pro football games on television with Josh.

"He set the meeting up when Josh visited Gainesville in December, since then and told him that is what he wanted to do. They are really, really tight. Coach Meyer personally recruited Josh all the way through."

"Josh is 6-4 200 pounds, there is probably not a more athletic quarterback in high school than Josh in the United States," said his high school coach, Troy Starr. "He has an excellent arm, tremendous skills and a great up-side. He was one of our captains, a great kid with a burning desire to get better." Scout.com's nationally eighth rated quarterback also boasts a 4.5 40.3" vertical leap and was the top leaper at a camp at USC in 2004.

"Urban was on him from day one," said Starr, whose last five quarterbacks have all earned college football scholarships, one of which was Rick Clausen, who was the Cotton Bowl MVP for Tennessee. "Urban and I go back 15 years or so. When I got back into coaching, I got Josh and I called Urban. He got on him and kept on him. Urban offered him, followed up, and got himself a great quarterback."

It wasn't a done deal that Portis would follow Meyer wherever he went. When the speculation and uncertainty about Meyer leaving Utah this year began, Josh dropped his commitment from the Utes. He took official visits to Maryland and Kansas State while the coaches from Oregon ( Mike Bellotti), Marland (Ralph Friedgen), and Kansas State's quarterback coach paid him in-home visits.

According to our family source, "The day before Josh visited Gainesville, Ty Willingham made an in home visit to represent the University of Washington".

Coach Meyer had to re-recruit Josh Portis all over again, this time to the University of Florida.

Portis is not a stranger to Gainesville or the Florida campus. Following his high school season, he made the trip where he met directly with University of Florida President Bernie Machen and Athletic Director Jeremy Foley. The meeting with those two helped seal Portis on his decision to be a Gator.

Monday, Josh spent the day "Trying to stay focused and he is packing. He is really excited, except the fact that he is going to be far away from home."

Although he will be far away from his home in California, the move shouldn't be viewed as a total surprise since he has lots of family in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana as well as other southern states. Perhaps because of the proximity of family, his mother is said to be happy with his choice.

"He has visited family in Mobile, Alabama for most years since 1992," said our family source. "He was offered scholarships with LSU and Kentucky. He has always wanted to play football in the south and the SEC." The Portis grandparents are from Louisiana and Florida. His grandfather has 15 brothers and sisters. His mother has 11 brothers and sisters.

"Josh's mom is very supportive of his decisions. It is all about him at this time. It is his moment in time and the family will do whatever they have to do to support him."

Portis comes to Gainesville ready for the challenges of stepping up his game to the next level. He arrives at Florida with the attitude that he will work hard with the hope to earn a chance to play right away. He's well aware that Florida has three outstanding quarterbacks already on the roster, one of whom (Chris Leak) has started for two years, but believes competition will make him a better player.

"He will study and compete for a starting job such as a confident quarterback should do. Josh knows the better the competition, the better the players. He is very glad to get there early as a spring enrollee so he can get grounded with his school and classes. He has the advantage at Florida coming in because no one knows the offense yet," said our source.

Josh already has attended at least one Florida practice and he's studied Florida's roster so he's well acquainted with the type of talent that's on hand.

"He thinks that the receivers at Florida are awesome," our source said. "but he was blown away by the size and quickness of the offensive and defensive lines. He looks forward to being a part of the team and being a team player."

Since he will be beginning school soon, Josh Portis will start relationships with his new teammates and getting ready for the off-season drills that will prepare him physically for his first spring practice as a Gator. He was the Most Valuable Offensive Player in his league and first team All-City quarterback in Los Angeles, California. All signs indicate this is one young man ready for the challenge. He's already accustomed to top flight competition and he will see plenty of that at Florida.

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