Eye-Opening Visit

New Jersey linebacker J.B. Fitzgerald had never been to Gainesville, so he tried to keep an open mind when he visited the University of Florida campus on Saturday. Not only was he impressed with what he saw, but he left with a changed view of his recruiting process.

"It's tough because I told my coach as we were leaving Gainesville that I was mad that I came to Gainesville," J.B. Fitzgerald said. "I told him that I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go, but now I have no idea. I'm all mixed up. The trip really reassured me that I have to take my time."

The Gators are in Fitzgerald's top-5 that also includes Michigan, Rutgers, Iowa and Georgia Tech, but he left Gainesville more open than when he arrived.

"It went really well," Fitzgerald said. "We had a great time. The university is really beautiful and they have some great people down there."

Fitzgerald had met head coach Urban Meyer in passing when Meyer has stopped at Princeton Junction (N.J.) W.W.P. High School-South Campus. The two have also talked several times on the phone, but this was the first chance for them to sit down face-to-face for an extended period of time.

"We met with coach Meyer at his office," he said. "He's a great guy and such a strong leader. He's so impressive in so many different ways. We got a chance to talk with him for a while. We watched the highlight tape, and we really enjoyed ourselves there. After meeting with coach Meyer, we went over to see coach (Steve) Addazio, and we got to talk with him for a while."

Then it was off to The Swamp, which exceeded all of Fitzgerald's expectations.

"When I got to the stadium, I thought it would be pretty good, but when I actually got in there, I was blown away," he said.

After the stadium, Fitzgerald had a chance to meet with the academic team. Academics are a strong consideration for the 6-3, 225-pound linebacker.

"It was very impressive how they have things organized out there as far as how academics go," Fitzgerald said. "I was really impressed with how their guys graduate on time, and some graduate in 3-1/2 years so they can get ready for the draft."

Fitzgerald also got a chance to meet with the coaches that he would be working with should he become a Gator.

"I got to meet with coach [Greg] Mattison in the weight room," he said. "I got to meet with the athletic training staff and the strength and conditioning coach. I met coach [Charlie] Strong and talked with him for a quick minute. I talked with coach [Chuck] Heater as well."

Fitzgerald still plans on taking unofficial visits to North Carolina, Michigan State and California, which may open him up even more. Gainesville has left an impression on him, though.

"Going in, I didn't really have any expectations because I didn't know what to expect," he said. "I had never been there before, so I was just going in with an open mind. As soon as I got on campus I was amazed how beautiful it was. I figured it was a nice campus, but I didn't realize how nice it would be."


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