As Jim McElwain tries to rebuild Florida football into a championship program, one of his mottos is “recruit daily or die.” Join us here on SEC Country for a daily recap of the latest UF recruiting news, tales from the trail and perspective on what it all means for the Gators.
Amari Burney is less than two weeks away from decision day.
The 4-star safety from Clearwater, Fla., will reveal his college choice in a commitment video on June 1, the birthday of his late grandfather.
“I’m ready for it,” Burney told SEC Country. “It’s going to be a big moment for me and my family when I commit.”
Burney is nation’s No. 10 safety and No. 104 overall prospect, according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He holds more than 20 scholarship offers, but his finalists are Florida, Ohio State and Virginia Tech.
His relationship with the UF coaches and their consistent pursuit helped the Gators make the cut.
“They did a lot to be one of my final schools,” Burney said. “They’ve been there since that first summer when they saw me. They hit me up all the time and keep in contact. Every time they come down this way they see me, so that’s a good feeling.
“The coaches feel like family and that’s what they represent. I know they’re going to take care of me like I’m their own son, so that’s a relief for me and my parents.”
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound prospect speaks almost daily with Florida coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, his area recruiter. In addition to his defensive load, Burney revealed the staff intends to give him some snaps on offense.
“Coach Nuss told me I could play either side of the ball. That really caught my attention,” said Burney, who is a two-way player at Calvary Christian High. “He’s the first coach to tell me that and that’s a big factor. He told me I would play mainly safety, but they’ll have some offensive packages for me.”
Burney camped at Florida as a rising sophomore during McElwain’s first summer in Gainesville.
Burney made the move to safety that fall and impressed the UF staff with his play in 2015. He attended Florida’s junior day event in January 2016 and received an offer directly from McElwain.
“That was the first ‘wow’ moment in my recruitment,” Burney said of the Florida offer. “They called me into McElwain’s office and I was kind of shaking a little bit. He offered me and it was unbelievable. It kind of hit me that I’m a big deal to them for the head coach to offer me.”
Calvary Christian coach Todd Yoder is a former Vanderbilt tight end who played nine years in the NFL. He believes Florida has benefited from jumping on Burney before other programs.
“They were one of the first bigger schools to really show that much interest in him,” Yoder said. “Coach Mac came down and did a visit with him in this very office. To have the head coach come all this way just to show him [what] he means to their recruiting class, I think that was special.
“They kind of identified him early as a kid that they sought and wanted. Some other schools were later into the mix and I think a lot of kids feel a little bit of loyalty to the schools that are on them early. So I think Florida did a good job with that.”
Miss a previous Gator Chomps notebook? Find every daily recap of Florida Gators recruiting right here.
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