Confident Anderson Ready To Get To UF

Markihe Anderson is one of the least talked about recruits to sign with the Florida Gators this year. The lack of publicity might be because he was one of the earliest commitments to the Gators --- he gave his verbal back in June after the Florida camp --- and he switched positions from wide receiver to cornerback. The lack of publicity or position change didn't bother Urban Meyer one bit.

(Markihe Anderson profile)

The Florida coach saw Anderson go one on one in The Swamp and that was all he needed to offer a scholarship to this potential lock down corner.

Being a Gator is nothing new for Anderson. Markihe (pronounced Mar-Kee) spent the majority of his Pop Warner and high school days in Fort Myers as a Gator fan. His family loves the Gators, he's grown-up idolizing former Gators, he's got the entire 1995 season on tape, and he's always loved a good Florida-Florida State game, or the yearly battle with the Bulldogs in Jacksonville at the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Markihe had no interest in checking out other schools for playing college football. Bottom line, he was a Gator all the way.

"Being able to go to your dream school ... where you've always wanted to go to … that's an honor!" said Anderson. "I'm just extremely grateful for it."

The 5-10, 175-pound product of Fort Myers Dunbar runs a quick 4.45 40-yard dash and he's been timed in the high 4.3's in practice. He will be running track this spring, competing in the 100 meters and 4X100 relay. When he gets to Gainesville in August, he will be making the transformation from receiver to corner with a lot of confidence.

"I'm actually very confident about it," he said. "As a receiver, I've always thought that most DB's don't have any hands. For me, converting from a receiver, the catching part will be easy.

"I know the routes, too, so that part of the game should come quickly to me. It'll be nice because I'll know all of the routes, the moves, stutter-steps … I mean, when a receiver makes his break, I'll be really focused on that because I've been a receiver. It's all very familiar to me."

When he attended the Florida camp last summer he was just hoping for a chance to showcase his abilities to the Gator coaching staff. He felt if he was given a fair shake he would have a shot at earning a scholarship offer. Not only did Coach Meyer notice but he pulled him aside and put him one-on-one with a highly-touted wide receiver prospect. Meyer told him if he could shut the receiver down, Florida would be very interested.

"They were really impressed with the session because it was just me and this guy, a stud they were really excited about at wide receiver and it was just us," Markihe said, "... the coaches, my two high school coaches, and me and this receiver ... no one else in The Swamp. They threw about 30 balls and he caught two or three of them. One was a really nice catch too ... he really earned it."

Performance under pressure always impresses coaches. The Florida staff saw an athlete who can play an aggressive bump and run. The Gators play cover one about 90 percent of the time so Anderson will fit right in.

"Man, for that session with the coaches, I mean, I just buckled down, got my mind right, and I mean if there's something I want, I'm going to go get it." he said. "I handle pressure real well. The coaches seemed to love my aggressive style of play too."

Once Meyer offered the scholarship, there was no looking back. Once Markihe Anderson said yes, taking the first step in making a lifelong dream come true, the recruiting process came to an abrupt halt.

"So when I got back (from the Florida camp), I had a good feeling about it and I let my parents know." he said. "We got it done a couple of weeks later and it took a lot of pressure off me. I mean, before my season came I knew I had a place to call home ... the place I've always wanted to go all along ... my dream school."

Markihe has lived in Fort Myers his entire life. He lives with both of his parents and has a younger brother who's 16. His mother, father, and grandmother played a crucial role in his decision. They told him to look at things like the facilities, the academics, and the coaches but the priority was to follow his heart and base his decision on what feels right.

"My mom, my dad, my grandma ... they all told me to follow my heart," he said. "They're all Gator fans, too, so it made my decision a little easier. It wasn't like I would say I wanted to go here and they would disagree. It was something they all wanted for me when I told them I wanted to be a Gator."

In fact, his parents and grandmother aren't the only Gator fans surrounding this young man. He's grown up in an environment rich with football talent, and he's been blessed to have the opportunity to speak with a lot of former Gators and NFL players. His family knows just about everyone in their area that's played football at the next level.

"A big reason we're all Gator fans is because of a graduate from UF in this area, Earnest Graham." he said. "Earnest Graham is from down here and my family, they're all pretty close with him. So they've just grown up Gator fans and then with Meyer in there now, we've all got no choice!

"Being a Gator fan just grew on me … just following the Gators growing up while I was in Pop Warner then being able to know Earnest Graham and guys like Jevon (Kearse) who's from this area. Actually Johnie Church attended UF back around '95, I know him personally. His brother coached me in Pop Warner, Calvin Church. Richard Faine … I go to school with his daughter now. He played cornerback for the Gators in the early '90s and grew up knowing our family. So it's just an honor to be around those guys."

To say the least, Markihe is familiar with the talent that's come from the Fort Myers area. Some of the NFL players from their area hold summer camps, where he's gotten a chance to talk with guys like Phillip Buchanon and Deion Sanders. He was introduced and got a chance to speak with Anthony Henry of the Dallas Cowboys.

"Greg Spires of the Tampa Bay Bucs ... I attend school with his sister right now," Anderson said. "My mom and his mom are close friends."

There's no doubt this young man is a fan of the sport. More importantly, because of it, he's developed a sincere passion for Gator football.

"I've been a real Gator fan since like 1994, '95, and '96," Anderson said. "1995 is my favorite season with Jacquez Green, Reidel Anthony ... all of those guys. Actually a lot of those guys went to the Redskins and Bucs who I started following afterwards. I got that whole 1995 season on tape."

The Fort Myers area also produced another big-time recruit for the Florida Gators this year in Chevon Walker. Markihe is very familiar with the new running back for the Gators.

"Oh yeah, I've actually gotten to play against him (Chevon)," he said. "It was one of those wet, muddy, rainy days and they actually beat us real good. I mean, I knew him growing up through high school. We weren't extremely close, but he's always been known as an extremely great running back.

"Chevon's got a great personality. He's going to get along real good with the program ... he's real competitive. We both are real competitive. I had a couple of big tackles on him when we played and I actually had an interception in that game. I was running it back and he chased me all the way down the field."

Some recruitniks might also be familiar with another popular name from the Fort Myers area. Noel Devine might possibly be the most talked about prospect in the state of Florida for the Class of 2007. Markihe seems to feel like he's worthy of the hype.

"Oh yeah, I've played against him twice now," Anderson said with a laugh. "Noel … he's an extremely good running back. I've got all the respect in the world for him. It'll be interesting to watch his recruitment 'cause he's going to have all the colleges in the world after him. Next year ... wow ... look out. It'll be interesting to see where he winds up at."

One of the best things about Gator football and tradition is its rivalries. Being as close to Gator football as he is, Markihe is all too familiar with the big games with Florida State and Georgia.

"Oh, I'm looking forward to those games," he said. "Those are BIG games. I mean every game is big but those are the ones you reach deep down inside for to give it your best."

Florida's got Miami on the schedule in 2008, and Markihe now has some close ties with the Hurricanes.

"Actually me and Javarris James, out of Immokalee High School, a new recruit down there at Miami who just signed ... we're from the same bloodlines and we're real close, so I'm real anxious to play them in 2008," he said.

Markihe has proven to the coaches that he can play with the best of them on the field. But like most of these young recruits coming in this year, he's got a great personality to go along with it. Academics are his number one priority while attending UF. He's very focused on finishing strong with his grades in high school and not quitting because he's already signed a scholarship. The coaches loved that about him.

"I got to talk to them (the coaching staff) after my session with them, and they liked my personality," he said. "Academics are my first priority. I want to be a student-athlete not just an athlete. I'll get my grades and then I'll look for the field."

Make no mistake about it Markihe possesses the characteristics and talent that truly symbolize Gator Football. Due to the fact that he switched positions, and didn't receive that much publicity, many fans have overlooked him because there's not that much information out there. Coach Meyer and the Florida staff saw something that caught their attention immediately. And with Florida's depth issues at cornerback this year, figure he'll have a shot at getting on the field early.

"I made it this far because I wanted it," he said. "And I'm not stopping for anything. I want to make it at the next level, and I'm going to compete to the best of my ability. I want that spot so anyone who's in my way, they better watch out because I'm on it. I'm ready to get up there. I wish I could have come in January. But when I get up there, I'm going to work my hardest to get it … those grades and some playing time. There's nothing like being able to go to your dream school."

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