RECRUITING: Gators have upbill battle for McKinney

SAN ANTONIO --- Although the final score wasn't what he hoped for, James McKinney is still proud and happy that he was able to be a part of the US Army All American Bowl Game at the Alamo Dome Saturday afternoon. The 6-3, 270-pound defensive end from Louisville (KY) Central is being recruited by the University of Florida, and now that the All-American game is over, the Gators will be making their move to see if they can lure McKinney to Gainesville.

The West beat the East, 35-3, a surprise since most observers thought the East had equal, if not superior talent.

"We were playing individually," said McKinney. "We knew we had the best talent."

He praised the West as a team that was "real good and executed well" while saying "it was a great game to be in and I enjoyed being a part of it."

Michigan is his first choice at this moment, but the Gators are trying to make up ground. Florida co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, whom he met during the summer camp circuit, is recruiting him for the Gators. Mattison is working with McKinney to bring him in for a visit to Gainesville.

"I talked to Coach Mattison and we may have something in the works," he said. "I will talk to him again and see where it goes."

During the week in San Antonio, his cell phone was ringing almost constantly. He says he lost track of all the incoming calls.

"I have been getting calls all week, from Coach Carr (at Michigan), Coach Mattison at Florida, a few other coaches like Nebraska," he said. "I don't even know how many."

James McKinney is aware that the Gators will be signing a small class of defensive linemen this year. Florida has his interest, but the Gators got off to a late start. If the Gators get him to Gainesville for a visit, they will still have an uphill battle to overcome Michigan's lead, but he has an open mind and a willingness to listen. We'll see if this is enough for Florida to change his mind.

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