Joel Hale’s visit to Florida late last week happened by chance. The Greenwood, Ind., Center Grove defensive tackle had never really thought about ever going to Gainesville. Of course, he’d was intrigued by what a school like Florida could offer him, but he had never tried to reach out to anyone there.

It wasn’t until offensive coordinator Steve Addazio called his coach about a month ago that the wheels were set in motion. Hale said after his coach gave him Addazio’s contact info, he immediately tried to get a hold of him. Addazio told him to come down and see how things work at Florida and with Hale already committed to a spring break trip to the state of Florida, he figured it would be perfect if he stopped off in Gainesville for a day.

Hale visited Florida last Friday with family and friends, where he met with Addazio, who is the recruiting coordinator for his area, and followed defensive line coach Dan McCarney around during UF’s practice.

“Coach Addazio is a little different with his intensity. He’s more laid back, but he can bring the intensity,” Hale said. “He’ll turn it on with the switch of a button. Coach McCarney is always intense, he’s always going.”

Hale said he loved each coach’s personality and had a great time in Gainesville. One thing that really drew his attention was the weather, which he described as “unbelievable” compared to what he’s used to in Indiana. Hale also took a tour of Florida’s facilities and came away impressed with what he saw.

“I’m very interested in Florida and I’d like to see (a scholarship offer),” he said. “As for their interest level, I think they’re interested.”

While the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hale is listed as a defensive tackle, he said that he’s also being recruited as an offensive lineman by some schools, though he prefers defense. Florida is currently recruiting him as a defensive lineman.

“I can fit into that defensive tackle position fairly well — maybe the strong side end,” he said.

Hale said he has around 11 scholarship offers. Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan are among the schools that have offered him. He doesn’t have an offer from the Gators but said Addazio is expected to visit him in May to talk more about his future.

Hale said he has no leaders at the moment and is trying to keep all of his options open, but admitted that getting an offer from Florida would likely propel the Gators to the top of his list.

With northern schools getting more involved with Hale, he said he always planned to stay closer to home. Things have changed after making his way down south to see Georgia Tech and now Florida. It appears that Hale’s college plans have changed considerably.

“I told myself that I want to stay close to home, but coming down here (to Florida) and after my visit to Georgia Tech, being away from home will be better for me,” he said.

Hale said he doesn’t think he’ll camp much — if at all — this summer but said he wants to get back to Gainesville if possible.