Jared Odrick's Visit Changes His Perspective

So often, successful recruiting has everything to do with perspectives. Saturday night at The Swamp, when defensive end Ray McDonald suffered a knee injury in Florida's game against the University of Tennessee, the perspective of Jared Odrick of Lebanon, Pennsylvania took a sharp and sudden turn that could favor the Gators.

(See Jared Odrick profile)

When Odrick saw McDonald go down in the second quarter with a knee injury that required surgery on Monday, he made a mental scan of Florida's depth chart at defensive end and the way he looked at the University of Florida changed immediately.

"This definitely changed my outlook on the University of Florida," Odrick said. "They are definitely up there and I have been looking at all five of my schools pretty hard. This was my first official of the five, but I know some of the things I doubted about the school definitely came up more positive than anything else after this trip. I doubted the sincerity about what position they wanted me at. After I saw the depth chart and talked to the players and I talked to Coach (Urban) Meyer one-on-one numerous times, he told me they are going to put me at defensive end and try and keep me there. That is the way it was going to be."

The combination of seeing what happened on the field and then the verbal confirmation from Meyer could weigh heavily in the recruiting process for Odrick, who is a 6-6, 285-pounder. He wants to stay on the outside at defensive end but most schools are fudging a bit, telling him they want him at end OR at tackle. When Odrick saw McDonald, a 290-pounder, and Joe Cohen, a 285-pounder, lining up at defensive end it made an impression.

"That was probably my main thing about Florida," he said. "… playing defensive end and staying there, especially going all the way down to Florida. It was my first time and quite possibly my last time but I am hoping to get down there again. I felt more comfortable than most places I went to"

He was comfortable with the school but then he experienced Florida's game time atmosphere. The Swamp was electric Satruday night and Odrick got a real taste of what happens when Gator Nation gets riled up.

"It was something else, exciting," he said. "It was the loudest thing I ever heard. It was definitely loud and wild."

Odrick arrived in Gainesville in the afternoon for what was an eight o'clock kickoff. The coaches were busy getting the team prepared for the big game so he spent time around the stadium and taking in game day in Gainesville.

"I got into Gainesville about 2:30 that day," he said. "I went to check in at the hotel. Then we went to the football offices. We walked around the stadium a little bit and met the other players. We went to the Gator Room and ate a little bit before the game. We met a lot of the recruits and some of the other commitments. Then we went to the game."

After the game the locker room was buzzing. Odrick understood the importance of the victory before he went into the locker room. Once inside, he felt the excitement of Florida's players.

"I went to the locker room and hung out with some of the players like Daryl Gresham," he said. "They were fired up. That was one of the biggest games in the country. Beating Tennessee and moving into the top five in the nation, the coaches were excited. There were over 70 recruits in the locker room. I hung out with some of the players after the game."

The style of defense was something else that impressed Odrick. Depth charts are meaningless unless the style of play sparks the imagination and fits your particular talents.

"I thought the defense was great," he said. "Their defense played great. They made some big pass break ups and got a lot of pressure on the quarterback. They definitely stopped the run. That was the main thing I was impressed with. Tennessee has a potent running game. Definitely I could fit into that and I feel confident about what Coach Meyer can do with the offense."

More selling of the position was in store for Odrick on Sunday. He got some personal time with the coaching staff and got a handle on what he can expect if he's a Gator next year.

"On Sunday I was with the coaches all day," he said. "They talked about the need at the defensive end spot and having the chance to play early. Coach (Greg) Mattison said I have a great chance to come in here, work hard, and play early. He said I was the number one guy at the defensive end spot. It was definitely a great situation for me to come into. I could see they like the big defensive ends."

The trip wasn't just about football and the University of Florida. He took some time to ask the locals what they think about the University of Florida and about Gainesville.

"When I went out to dinner I was doing a survey of the hostesses and waitresses," he said. "I asked 'what is the one thing you hate about the university?' The first one said parking, and then she said I don't have to worry about that because I am a football player. Another one said 'I guess my hard classes.' The other two said nothing. Then I asked them what they love and three of the four said football. The other one said all the sports."

Odrick tripped to Gainesville the morning after helping to lead Lebanon to a 20-18 win on Friday night. His workday showed eight tackles, one sack and four fumble recoveries.

"That was crazy," he said. "The ball pretty much kept coming my way."

Jared Odrick, who was recently selected to the U.S. Army All-American game, still plans on taking all five of his official recruiting visits but it is apparent the Florida Gators have made a very big impression. His two days on the Florida campus may have given the Gators the recruiting edge for this very talented defensive end.

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