RECRUITING: Pahokee's Ricky Gary Gator At Heart

Whether it's on the field or off, Pahokee's Ricky Gary is ready to engage someone in a conversation. When it's on the field, he's talking to some wide receiver. One play he's in the opponent's face, talking trash. The next moment he's congratulating his opponent for making a good play. Off the field, he's usually smiling and talking to someone.

Ricky Gary loves to talk and one of his favorite subjects is the Florida Gators. There are a lot of Division I schools recruiting this 5-9, 177-pounder and he's got offers from five --- Kansas, North Carolina, Maryland, Ole Miss and Wake Forest --- but if you ask him where he wants to be playing football in 2006, it's at Florida.

"Gainesville, baby," he said. "I love Gainesville and the Gators. Ever since I was about five and when I started seeing Riedel Anthony, who was from the glade (Belle Glades). I really started following them then. I have been up there two times … both times we won the state championship. I love the town. I love the country, because I am from the country. When I first got to the stadium, it brought tears to my eyes."

Florida coaches Charlie Strong and Doc Holliday will be in south Florida this week, and one of the stops on their tour will be Pahokee. Gary is ready to meet the Florida coaches face to face and talk about college, football and anything else they want to talk about.

"I talk to Charlie Strong and Coach Doc Holliday," he said. "They will be down some time next week. When they get there I am going to leave good impressions on them. They are recruiting me but they just want to see how tall I am, see how much I weigh. They know I can play defensive back, they just want to evaluate me a little more."

At the All-America Combine in Tampa Saturday, Gary ran even though he had pulled a groin muscle the day before. It didn't help that the University of South Florida playing surface on which he was running wasn't conducive to fast times.

"I think I did great," he said. "Because of the soft surface, we all lost two tenths of a second (in the 40). I did pretty good but I have a pulled groin. I hurt it yesterday (Friday) in practice but I had to come out here and compete. It hurt me bad, I took a pain pill, but it really hurt me bad."

Gary is an excellent student and has already scored a 15 on the ACT. He will take it again in June. He has a 2.75 cumulative core GPA and has already passed the FCAT. Qualifying for the next level doesn't look to be a problem for the quick kid from the muck.

Pahokee had a handful of athletes attend the combine and as a group they performed very well. Indeed the Pahokee team is loaded this year.

"We have ten Division One prospects and about eight of us came out here," he said. "A lot of college coaches came out here recruiting us. We have to work hard ... it takes hard work and dedication. We are working hard running the dykes every day and lifting weights. Coach Leroy Foster is getting after us and he is a great coach."

Gary has shown he can compete at the highest levels so it isn't difficult to foresee him in a Division One team's uniform in 2006. He has the speed, the quick feet and a tenacious ability to go after the ball.

What he lacks in size, he more than makes up in heart and it is a heart that beats long and strong for the Florida Gators.

Fightin Gators Top Stories