RECRUITING: UF Visit Blows Lemmens Away

Duke Lemmens lives within shouting distance of the beach at Malibu and not all that far from the campus at the University of Southern California. He's a typical LA kid in that there isn't much that catches him off guard or by surprise yet when he visited the University of Florida campus recently it was far more than he could have possibly anticipated.

(See Duke Lemmens profile)

To say the 6-5, 240 pound defensive end was somewhat surprised on his visit would probably be an understatement. Lemmens made a double dip to Georgia Tech too, but it was Gainesville that really stood out and made him think. And, all this occurred when the majority of students were away between semesters.

"It was amazing," said Lemmens, who had 120 tackles and 10 sacks as a junior. "I just fell in love with it. I loved it. I live in California and never knew what to expect and never heard of Gainesville.

"Coach (Greg) Mattison has been personally recruiting me and he met me there. He and his wife spent the whole day showing me around and giving me the tour. They took me right into the middle of The Swamp and we watched a film and loved it."

Lemmens is used to life in a big city where what's normal is often the unusual everywhere else in the country. That's the way it is on the west coast and in particular, Los Angeles. Gainesville offered something completely different. This was his first taste of a college town in the south and it's something he just couldn't imagine before this trip.

"Westlake Village is in Southern California and about 45 minutes from LA," he said. "It's a suburb and we are right near Malibu. Of all the California schools I like Berkeley the best but the whole trip made me fall in love with southern life. I loved it. The people at the hotel in Gainesville found out I was a recruit and they were crazy. It was insane."

He also has a great admiration for the Gator coaches even if he hasn't met a whole bunch of them just yet. Apparently, admiration is a two-way street. As much as he likes the Gators, it seems the Gators like him, too.

"I didn't see Coach Meyer, but I talked to him on the phone two days ago," he said. "It was real cool talking to him. To me he is the most famous coach in college football right now. I know more about him than Charlie Weis."

Surprisingly enough there is one road block from making this match up happen.

"They are the school that recruits me and texts me the most and yet the only one that hasn't offered," he said.

That may change very quickly.

"Coach Mattison sat me down and said there was no doubt in his mind that an offer will come through," Lemmens said. "He said it was a school that was so popular that they just can't offer from tape. He wants me to come for a camp for one day and show him what I've got.

"Coach Meyer was talking to me like I've been offered. He was saying stuff like 'what do we have to do to make you a Gator?'"

Lemmens has no problem proving himself in front of the Gator coaching staff. He and his family will decide soon whether he will make it to camp, but Lemmens is raring to go.

"I think that is another thing that has me interested in Florida," he said. "I like the thought of having to earn that offer. It isn't official yet, because I have to get my parents permission to go do it but I want to be down there on June 13th. Another reason I want to try and earn that scholarship is I want to go against some top players in the country and see how I compete."

He has plenty of offers already from schools such as Colorado, Arizona, Texas A&M, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, San Diego State, Northwestern, and Georgia Tech. Of that group, there are four that stand out.

"My top four are Florida, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Arizona," he said.

TEXAS A&M: "I went to Houston on spring break. Ex-NFLer Clay Matthews' son is on my team. We decided to drive over there to A&M. I gave them my tape and didn't know what to expect. I never heard of the 12th man before and I loved the whole concept they have and how crazy they are about football up there too. Coach Eggin offered me the next week. They have been writing me messages and letters and I really like the way they are recruiting me."

ARIZONA: "I took a visit there for their spring game. I think they are a program on the rise. I like defense and they love defense out there too. Coach (Mike) Stoops is a defensive mastermind."

COLORADO: "I hear nothing but good things about Coach Dan Hawkins. Everyone tells me it is a school I have to be interested based on how beautiful it is. They have been recruiting me real hard and it is probably the next school I am going to visit."

He is still contemplating a timetable on his decision on a future college home. There are some factors that come into play as to when he will try and make that decision.

"The whole Florida thing, if that falls through that could change everything," he said. "My coach wants me to make a decision before the season and take some pressure off. I don't think I am going to be able to make a decision by then. I am thinking more like late September or October and take some visits."

He has all the right reasons ready to make the choice when that time comes. Lemmens is a mature young man that is thinking of his future beyond football, at least at the collegiate level. He talked about what factors will go into that final decision.

"I think it's going to be when I am there I want to feel like I can live there for the next four years," he said. "That will have to do with the caliber of coaches and not just how they coach football. It's important how they treat me off the field and hold me accountable. I want to reach my full potential.

"Where the school is located is important. I have just fallen in love with the football atmosphere in these college towns. You don't see that on the west coast. People like football here, but it's a difference in liking football and worshipping it in the south."

The Florida Gators will have to keep a close eye on Duke Lemmens, especially if he makes that trip south in a couple of weeks to visit the Gainesville campus once again. The big time defensive end looks and sounds like a young man that says and does all the right things on and off the field.

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