RECRUITING: Gators snag first commit for 2007

It's been a very exciting few days for the Florida Gators and the momentum continues in yet another sport as Coach Meyer snags his first high quality commitment from the Class of 2006, paving the way for year another great year in recruiting for the Florida Gators. This new commitment is a ripple effect from Florida's popular Junior Days -- read on to get the real inside scoop on who it is!

Less than a full day from their national championship in basketball, the Gators may be reaping rewards from the excitement generated from that and the fact that over fifty of the top juniors in the nation were on campus this weekend for the recruiting season's second junior day. Defensive end Jerry Howard from Orlando Jones made it official today when he called Coach Meyer and committed to the University of Florida.

For the 6-4.5, 240 pound Howard, it was just a great few days and he just had to be a Gator.

"I was on with Coach Meyer when you called," he started. "I just verbally committed to Florida. I told Coach Meyer that Florida was the place to be."

He stayed the night on Friday with his cousin Eric Sledge. Sledge is currently fighting for playing time in the Gators linebacker corps.

"Over the weekend I went there for the junior day." Howard said. I was there on Friday and stayed with Eric Sledge. We are real tight, we talk frequently and he tells me he likes it up there, so I like it too.

The University is nice and unbelievable. It was the first time in the Swamp I fell in love with it after a grand tour. The atmosphere was amazing last night after the national championship. I got acquainted with the place I fell in love with it. "

Playing time is a big thing for Howard and he sees a chance to come in and really make an impact early for the Gators. That impression was laid on him and his parents by the staff and then he saw it with his own two eyes.

"Before we left (Coach Meyer) met my parents in the office and he told them I had a great chance of playing at Florida and they would love to have me," he said. "My parents already liked it because it is only an hour and a half away."

He went to practice and saw all the seniors at defensive end. He knows he has a real chance of playing really early.

"That's the thing, I saw it for myself," he said. "I saw that Jarvis Moss has NFL potential written all over him so he's probably going to be gone this year. The only one that is going to return is really Harvey, so that is big."

He would play the position currently manned by Jarvis Moss.

"They want me at Fox," he said. "Right now I am playing linebacker in high school so I think I can handle the reads and everything. Because they want me at the fox, they want me to play a little down lineman. My coach is going to have me play both down and up some."

Howard sports a 3.1 GPA and is looking into coming to school early and getting a jump on practice time. He plays basketball for his school's state championship team and while that is somewhat of an issue, he also wants to make sure he is mentally prepared to give up the last part of his senior year of high school.

"I have enough credits to do it," he said. "I could show up as a sophomore. I am 6-4.5 and 240 pounds."

Howard is an elite prospect and chose Florida over Florida State, Auburn, and North Carolina State. The big time play maker is a huge start for the Gators recruiting class, one that seems on the verge of busting wide open with commitments.

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