RECRUITING: Adjustment Would Be Easy For McDaniel

Wide receiver Damon McDaniel of Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown came to Gainesville to take in the Florida-Tennessee football game on an official visit last weekend. By the time he returned home he had a real taste of The Swamp atmosphere on game day and a good idea how the Gators would use him next year if he chooses UF on national signing day.

(Damon McDaniel profile)

McDaniel was part of the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the state of Florida Saturday night --- 90,716 --- and if it wasn't the loudest crowd in Swamp history, it was close. It was certainly the loudest crowd that McDaniel has ever been a part of.

"The crowd was unbelievable," said McDaniel, who is rated four stars by Scout.com. "It was just how they were into it. Tennessee burned a whole lot of timeouts just because of the crowd. They were real involved."

It was his McDaniel's second visit to Gainesville. In the spring, McDaniel, teammate Percy Harvin, and Coach Chris Beatty took an unofficial visit to Florida. Harvin, a five-start receiver whom some consider the top offensive prospect in the nation, made the trip with McDaniel again. Both players brought their family members.

"On my first unofficial visit I got to see the academics side," said McDaniel. "On my official I got to see the whole game atmosphere and everything. The game was great and Tennessee was a tough team to beat. They (the Gators) played tough … they didn't have a good offensive game but the defense stepped it up a lot. I went down with my mom and dad. They loved it. Southern hospitality, they treat you real good down there."

He got a short stay in the locker room after the game to watch the jubilant gators celebrate their victory.

"We got to see the Coach's speech," he said. "They were real hyped because they will probably be number five in the polls."

After the game he got to spend some time with some of the players. Most of the official visitors were out the door quick and had a little bit of time on the town on Saturday night post game.

"I hung out with Dallas Baker," McDaniel said. "He is cool and real laid back. Not all of them are laid back, but most of them."

McDaniel arrived into Gainesville Saturday morning and got his weekend started quickly. He got to see a little bit of the school side again, and then the game day atmosphere around town.

"We got in there Saturday morning at 10:30," he said. "We went to the hotel and put our stuff up. We went to an academic thing again. Then we walked around and saw the top half of the stadium like the presidential suite and all of that. After that we saw the Gator Walk and then got ready for the game."

Sunday was a little one-on-one time with the coaching staff so they could tell him what to expect if he decides to make Florida his home. Because Florida's outstanding wide receiver Bubba Caldwell went down with a season ending injury, McDaniel is well aware that Florida is in real need of quality recruits at wide receiver this year.

"We hung out with Coach Gonzalez and just chilled with him all day," he said. "They already have a plan for us … they want us to come in and play early because they need wide receivers. They say you will come in and compete for a spot … we might be behind someone or we might not."

This was McDaniel's first official visit. He is in the process of scheduling others. He's certain that he will take two more visits and he's leaving open the possibility he will take the final two visits somewhere.

"I am in the process of scheduling my visits," he said, "I have LSU on October 15th and will make it down to Virginia Tech on November 5th . Those are the only two I have scheduled. I am still somewhat interested in Florida State and Ohio State."

For those other schools, they have a lot to live up to from McDaniel's visit to Gainesville. They do have some positive qualities.

VIRGINIA TECH: "Virginia Tech is a good program. They are doing well this season. The coaches are doing a good job with the players. They have a whole bunch of momentum. Vick is doing a good job and I have been there once."

LSU: "At LSU, I like the coaching staff and they play at a high level of competition. They throw the ball a lot too and they have very speedy receivers."

"At Ohio State and Florida State, I like the coaching staffs," he said.

He has put together a list of things that will factor into his final decision. Feeling comfortable in the entire environment on and off the field is of major importance.

"I have to like the type of environment and the football atmosphere," he said. "I have to feel comfortable in their system and in the business school."

On the field, the system has to appeal to McDaniel's talents. He and Harvin are using much of the same motion, plays, formations and everything else the Gators use on offense.

"I would be real comfortable in that system … we run that system," he said. "I am an outside guy most of the time but I move to the slot some. They move us around on the field a lot like the Florida system."

Damon McDaniel seems like a natural fit for the Florida Gators. With speed and an overall awareness of what the Gators already do on offense, a smooth transition would be in store. He's not ready to pull the trigger on a commitment, however, so the Gators will have to patiently await his decision.


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