Photo: Billy Napier; Credit: Alex Shepherd
The Gators have harped on creating more than mutually beneficial work relationships that only impact success on the gridiron since the new staff arrived.
While that is still a considerable part of it — given the fact that it is the game — head coach Billy Napier and company have a desire to connect on a personal level with some of the top athletes (and their families) around the nation. He feels this is the best way to acquire elite-level talent during his tenure at UF.
He made quick work in his 2022 transition class by pulling highly regarded IMG safety prospect Kamari Wilson at the last minute, showing the blueprint can work.
Heading into the upcoming cycles, Florida is attempting to do the same with other top names on their board. Obviously, 2023 is paramount at the moment, but it hasn't stopped them from looking at 2024 talent and beyond.
As a result, when the Gators recently offered On3Sports Consensus five-star 2024 linebacker prospect Sammy Brown, Napier picked up a relationship established in the past with Brown's parents to serve as a viable connection point for the talented second-level player.
"He actually went to the same college as my parents," Brown told AllGators following his Florida offer. "So I kind of got a little bit of a background on his personality and his view on football because my dad played football at Furman."
He consulted his parents about the man at the helm of the University of Florida. Brown implied that they spoke glowingly of Napier in their discussions.
"They said that he's gonna be a really good guy. He's definitely going to have a similar personality to my dad. We really want to go down to see him."
On the surface, Brown is liking what he's seeing from UF. His raving initial impressions have him intrigued by what the program and coaching staff has to offer to him both on and off the field.
However, when describing what his first thoughts were following his offer on Thursday, Brown focused on one word above the rest: culture.
"I think that they've got a great culture," he said. "I think the players really are playing for the right reason, not playing for NIL or anything like that. They're really playing for football and I think something that coach Napier has kind of keyed in on, playing for football. So, I think the players and the coaches and the community brings together a really good culture."
Brown is attempting to set up an unofficial visit to Florida this summer.
While that could come as a planned day trip to Gainesville, the possibility of him and his family swinging by on the way back from a beach vacation to the Sunshine State in the next couple of months is a possible tentative plan on the table at the moment.
Enduring an active recruitment to this point as one of the highest-rated players in his entire class regardless of position, Brown was grateful for the chance to visit places he had never been before and likely wouldn't have gone if it wasn't for recruiting like Norman, Oklahoma and Columbus, Ohio.
This time next year, Brown will begin making tough decisions regarding a pending commitment.
"So probably this time next year, we'll have a top-five and then we'll take our official visits over the summer, and then make a decision sometime during my senior year," he said.
He prefaced that he is 100% open to all opportunities and will be taking time to enjoy what is left of his high school sports career as a rising junior.
"We're not trying to key in yet. We got plenty of time."
When that moment comes, Florida hopes they've formed a stronger bond with Brown to be positioned favorably for the talented man in the middle of the defense.
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