RECRUITING: Loud Swamp Impresses C.J. Spiller

"Some people say the Tennessee game was louder, but I don't think so," says C.J. Spiller, who was an unofficial visitor Saturday at The Swamp for the Florida-Florida State game. "That was the loudest I've ever heard a stadium in my life and it was the loudest Florida game I've ever been to."

(See C.J. Spiller profile)

Spiller, the five-star (by rated running back out of Lake Butler (FL) Union County, had a serious interest in this game since he has both Florida and Florida State in his final group of schools. He's already taken an official visit to Southern California, plans to visit the big three in the state of Florida and says he may take one other official visit before he makes his final decision.

"Football-wise, I already know what the three Florida schools (Florida, Florida State and Miami) have to offer," said Spiller, who will be playing for the East team in the US Army All-American Game in San Antonio, Texas January 7. "I've been to Southern Cal and that was a great visit but I'm going to look at the three schools in Florida to really see what they offer more than just football. I may take one other visit but I'm not sure where that would be right now."

Spiller took his mother, Patricia Watkins, to the Florida-FSU game Saturday. It was her first trip to The Swamp and he said she really enjoyed the atmosphere.

"The fans were really nice to us," he said. "I've got a lot of respect for Florida fans. I think they're some of the best in the country."

Florida walloped FSU, 34-7, and though the final outcome wasn't a surprise to Spiller, the final margin was.

"That was a rivalry game and they're such big rivals that it's a shock any time one team beats the other one bad," he said. "I wasn't surprised that Florida won and I wouldn't have been surprised if Florida State won, but I have to admit that it is very surprising that Florida won by such a big margin.

"The game was in The Swamp so you had to think Florida had some kind of edge. Florida fans make The Swamp a different kind of place. The fans proved that they make this the toughest place there is to play in."

He was impressed with Florida's offense and the speed and hard hitting of the defense.

"Florida spreads the ball around so it's hard for any defense to key on just one player," said Spiller, who scored 30 touchdowns and averaged nearly 12 yards per carry (1800-plus yards) this year. "Their defense flies to the ball and they really hit hard."

In the Florida locker room after the game, Spiller said that he was touched by the way the underclassmen one by one paid tribute to the departing Gator seniors who played their final home game.

"The tribute to the seniors really touched me," he said. "One by one guys were standing up and saying how much they appreciated the seniors and how they had played their hardest for them.

"It reminded me of my last game against Trinity Catholic. A lot of guys on my team who are underclassmen took time to come by and tell me how they had given their best for me and the other seniors. You don't find that kind of thing everywhere that the underclassmen have such love and respect for the seniors. I thought that was a good thing to see at Florida."

Since he's already so familiar with the football programs, he's going to spend a lot of time in the next month on the computer checking out everything he can find out about the schools that are still on his list of contenders.

"I want to see what's being said about the academics, the social settings and the towns the schools are in," he said. "Football is important but so are the other things because one day football will be over and I'll have the rest of my life to do something. I want to go to a college that will get me ready for what happens when football ends."

He says he is nowhere close to a final decision.

"I'm not going to rush into it," he said. "I'm trying to use the time wisely and make a good decision. When I choose, I want it to be the right school for all the right reasons."

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