RECRUITING: Gators Make Up Ground On Wilson

The Friday Night Lights mini-camp was one of mutual gain for the University of Florida and Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland's Tony Wilson, the quick strike wide receiver who is rated four stars by Florida's coaches came away from the camp highly impressed with Wilson, and Wilson came away with a greater appreciation for the Gators. Although Florida closed ground, Wilson still has the same favorite in this recruiting derby.

(Tony Wilson profile)

Wilson has former teammates at Florida and Georgia. Instead of feeling the pull one way or the other, he's gotten good advice and that's helping him in this ever-tightening recruiting race.

"Avery (Atkins) at Florida and Keenan Johnson at Georgia are both telling me to go with my heart, wherever my heart leads me," Wilson said. "They are telling me the right things. Georgia is still my leader, then Florida. I really can't say what the difference (is), but it is really, really close between the two. Florida State is third, and if I had to name five it would include Tennessee and LSU. I plan on taking five visits."

At Florida's mini-camp, Wilson made a strong impression by showing speed, strength, moves and good hands. He attributes part of his success to a relaxed attitude.

"I think I did great … it was the best camp I had the whole summer other than maybe the Georgia camp," he said. "I think it was because I was more relaxed. I knew the coaches this time and I know what was to be expected. I just felt like it was kind of like home this time, rather than the first time meeting them."

The piped in music and crowd noise provided atmosphere for The Swamp, which was about 90,000 shy of capacity. The heightened atmosphere reminded Wilson of He likened all the crowd noise to a previous visit he made to the Gainesville. Back in 2003, Wilson got his first taste of The Swamp when his Mainland Bucs won the Class 5A State Championship.

"When we played in the state championship game with all the crowd noise … that was kind of like what it was like," Wilson said. "I was real loose. I had a great time."

Many of the prospects who attended the Friday night mini-camp stayed over for a day on campus on Saturday. Wilson soaked up the campus atmosphere and got a better feeling for all of Florida's facilities. The highlight of the day was an afternoon at Lake Wauberg, UF's student/faculty recreational facility.

"I went to the lake and had lunch," he said. "Avery and I went on a row boat and canoeing and went out to find some alligators. I met a few players … Louis Murphy, Josh Portis, Cornelius Ingram, Ray McDonald, Stephen Harris, Earl Everett, Brandon Siler, Chad Jackson, Andre Caldwell and more. To me, Louis Murphy and Nyan Boateng are the craziest."

He also got to spend quality time with the Gator coaching staff on Saturday. When the day was over, he was even more impressed, feeling that he's begun to bond with Florida wide receivers Coach Billy Gonzalez.

"Coach Gonzalez is cool," he said. "He is like a father figure already to me. Coach Meyer … I love him, he is funny and all. We have a good time (together)."

The 5-10, 172-pounder is the number 14 ranked wide receiver in the nation. He's got an impressive list of scholarship offers. He talked about the four schools other than Florida still on his list.

GEORGIA: "I really like the same things as Florida, but they are the school that has recruited me the longest. Kirby Smart is recruiting me at Georgia."

FSU: "That's my school from when I was a little kid. I wanted to go there since I was a little kid. It is still running in my blood to go to Florida State.

TENNESSEE: "I just like the program there as well as the coaches. Jimmy Ray Stephens is recruiting me there."

LSU: "They were one of the first schools that recruited me. They show me the love, so I want to show them the love. That is one of the schools I really want to visit."

While Florida is not in the lead for Tony Wilson, the Gators moved from also ran to very much in the hunt at Friday's mini-camp. As it stands now, this is a Florida-Georgia border war with Georgia holding a slim lead that could become very shaky if the Gators are able to continue to close ground.

Fightin Gators Top Stories