Photo: Leyton Nelson; Credit: Brian Smith
After missing out on IMG Academy's (Fla.) Tyler Booker in July as he committed to Alabama, Florida was left to reshuffle its offensive tackle board in the class of 2022 dramatically.
One of the fast-risers in the class who is left near the top of the Gators' board is Boone (Fla.) lineman Leyton Nelson.
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Orlando-area tackle was a relatively unknown prospect entering this year but has seen his recruitment blow up ever since, obtaining over 20 offers since January. Florida entered the mix for Nelson on June 16 after working out for the coaching staff, namely offensive line coach John Hevesy.
“Coach Hevesy understands me, like where I come from and like my family and all that," Boone told Brian Smith of SI's Inside the Knights. "He’s straight to the point. He doesn’t mess around when he’s out on the football field. He gets you right; he doesn’t like you messing around. It’s football, it’s in the SEC. It’s how it should be.”
Not long after his workout, Nelson included Florida in his top five schools alongside Miami, UCF, Duke and Utah.
Since his offer, Nelson has also bonded with head coach Dan Mullen, which further suggests that he has shot up Florida's offensive tackle board. An in-state prospect, Nelson's potential addition would soften the blow of missing out on Booker and would help solidify Florida's long-term outlook at offensive tackle.
“Coach Mullen is much more approachable, I could say," Nelson said. "Like Hevesy is a little scary sometimes, but coach Mullen, he’s genuine, he’s respectful, he’s the head coach of Florida. So it’s a little nerve-racking to go up and meet him, but once you have a conversation with him, he is good to talk with.
“He was out there just watching my workout and that meant a lot just seeing him there.”
Although he aligns at both tackle spots in Boone's offense, Nelson believes that his best position for the next level is at left tackle, a position that Florida has sorely lacked pledges from on the recruiting trail as of late. Nelson also offers the flexibility to move to center, making him all the more appealing a target for the Gators moving forward.
Despite previously planning on a July 4 commitment date, Nelson told Smith that he plans to continue assessing his options. Nelson understands that spots are being occupied on a regular basis now that in-person recruiting is back in full swing, though, which could lead to a decision - even if it is a silent commitment - in the near future.
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