It's A Two-School Race For Ryan Houston

The Florida Gators had so much success mining the state of North Carolina for big time football talent last year that it's not a surprise they're back in the state this spring, trying to repeat last year's coup of signing the top two prospects in the state, Carl Johnson and Brandon Spikes. One of the top targets for Florida this year is running back Ryan Houston of Matthews (NC) Butler.

(See Ryan Houston profile)

It is a two team race right now for Houston between the home state Tar Heels and the Gators. When Houston came to visit Gainesville a couple of weeks ago for UF's second Junior Day, Johnson, who is from Durham, NC, was his host.

"It went pretty good," Houston said. "I was down there chilling with Carl Johnson. The first time I met Carl was at the Florida State game last year. He showed me around and told me what kind of things to look for and what they do on offense and stuff."

When he was in Gainesville for Junior Day, Houston visited a Florida scrimmage on a Saturday morning. The hard hitting and speed of the practice was a real eye-opener.

"Practice was wild," he said. "They had a lot more intensity that a lot of teams don't have this time of year. They are on it hard right now."

He also made some friends with a couple of more high profile offensive players.

"I like their style of offense," he said. "They run the ball a fair amount. I know [fellow North Carolinian] Chris Leak and I talked Tim Tebow for a little bit."

His decision about where to play college football next year could come sooner and not later. He wasn't able to run at the Durham combine due to a hamstring pull and if he doesn't make it to the US Army All-American Bowl game, he will most likely make an early decision. It's a two team fight for his services.

"I am talking to Florida and Chapel Hill (North Carolina) the most," he said. "They are the two schools that are recruiting me the hardest. Florida likes my size as a running back and they talk a lot about getting me down there. I don't that many people down there, so that would be a drawback."

"Carolina says they like everything about me. They like my size and everything I can do with the rock. One drawback at Chapel Hill is I guess they aren't a big power school."

Distance isn't much of a factor at all for Houston. He drove down to Gainesville for Junior Day and he plays to be back June 3 for Florida's camp. His mother will be playing a vital role in his final decision although she says that she doesn't care where he goes. Wherever he signs, she will travel to see him play.

"Florida is only about six hours away," he said. "It doesn't matter where I go, she [Mom] will find her way there. She just wants me to make sure I get a good education."

Getting a great education is important to Houston who plans to be an educator when his playing days have ended.

"I am thinking about teaching," he said. "I like working with kids. I want to teach and be a coach for a high school team. I work a little in the community sometimes. My friend's mom owns a day care and I go over there and play ball with the kids sometimes."

Ryan Houston has a busy schedule. He also has a job to help out his family so he has to juggle his schedule to attend camps and make visits to college campuses. At 6-2 and 245 pounds he would like to work a little more weight off and get down to 235. He is working with a speed coach to get quicker, too. His combination of talent, desire and work ethic is why he's a high priority for the Florida Gators.

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