RECRUITING: Spiller Enjoyed FNL Experience

Two years ago when C.J. Spiller was playing for a state championship against Pahokee, he didn't really notice the size of The Swamp. He was too busy concentrating on the game at hand. The blazing fast running back from Lake Butler (FL) Union County saw the 90,000-seat stadium on the University of Florida campus from a different perspective when he was at the "Friday Night Lights" camp.


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(See C.J. Spiller profile)

Spiller attended the mini-camp but he didn't participate. He spent the evening watching teammates like Kevin Alexander go through the drills along with athletes he's met at several stops along the recruiting circuit. When he wasn't paying attention to what was going on with all the players, he was standing in the middle of the field, feeling insignificantly small.

"When I was there [The Swamp] before I was playing in the state championship game and probably because I was playing I just didn't notice that it's so big," Spiller said Sunday evening. "It looked a lot different Friday night. I told Coach (Urban) Meyer that it looked much bigger than it was before. It's really a huge place."

Even if the stadium made him feel small, Spiller's Union County coach, Buddy Nobles, thought that his 5-10, 184-pound running back finished the evening looking a whole lot bigger. That's because Spiller found a home near the grill where hamburgers and hot dogs were cooked in the southeast corner of the stadium.

"They had some of the best hamburgers I've ever eaten," said Spiller. "I think I ate five of them. Coach Nobles was messing with me on the way home. He was calling me his 200-pound running back."

Watching some of the best players in the southeast compete was an eye-opener for Spiller.

"The quarterback (Jarred) Fayson (Tampa Hillsborough) is fun to watch," said Spiller. "He's an unbelievable athlete. He can play quarterback and you can put him at wide out and he can really go catch the ball. He can just run."

"It was different just to watch Tim Tebow (St. Augustine Nease quarterback). I've played against him, you see him different when you can just watch him. He's got an unbelievable arm. I like the way Jamar Hornsby (Jacksonville Sandalwood wide receiver) plays. He's really big and fast. I also thought the Wilson dude (Daytona Beach Mainland wide receiver Tony) showed some unbelievable speed and hands."

He also paid attention to a couple of sophomores that he will be seeing in the fall when Union County and Ocala Trinity Catholic square off in what should be the district championship game.

"That wide receiver (Dion Lecorn) really is fast and he runs nice routes," said Spiller. "The quarterback (Johnny Brantley) has really nice touch on the ball and a very strong arm. They've got some great athletes on their team. It should be a great game when we play."

Although he didn't participate, he did spend time talking to Coach Meyer along with some of the Florida assistant coaches. The time he spent with the coaches was the best part of the evening for Spiller.

"I came away with a different view of Florida," said Spiller. "I got to see the way they coach on the field and how they get along with players. They're like having another father because of the way they love on the players and let them know that they're there for you. I like the way they get close to the players a lot."

While he isn't any closer to making a final decision about which school he will sign with in February of 2006, Spiller said the Friday night visit to Gainesville was certainly worth his time.

"It was good for me because I got to see things differently," he said. "I'm glad I was there. I'll be thinking about these things when it comes time to make my choice."


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