Willie Snead Jr. has always been close to Florida’s football program.
His father, Willie Snead III, was a receiver at Florida during the late ’80s and kept his family around the Gators while coaching at Belle Glade Glades Central. Snead III has stayed in constant contact with coaches at Florida over the years and now his son is looking to become an official member of the Gator football family.
A relative unknown in the recruiting world, Snead Jr. traveled down with his father, now head coach at Muskegon, Mich., Muskegon Heights, and a few teammates to work out at Florida’s camp in June. The slender, 5-foot-11, 174-pound athlete came down as a quarterback, but worked as a receiver, displaying great speed, running crisp routes and showing off extremely soft hands.
“I wanted a chance to compete down south again because I used to live down there and most of the kids who live in Michigan don’t get the chance to go down and compete with them,” Snead Jr. said. “They were great players and it was a great opportunity.”
Snead Jr. passed for 2,937 yards and 30 touchdowns as a junior. He also rushed for 1,120 yards and 15 touchdowns. However, he projects as a receiver at the next level and is being recruited as one.
With his Florida roots, Snead Jr. said he was excited to compete with the southern speed. Up north, he said, athletes usually train for different sports year-round, but in Florida, it’s “football all day, every day.”
Snead Jr. certainly held his own during drills and one-on-ones and said he was pleased with his performance. His next goal is to earn a scholarship from an elite football program and Florida is currently his No. 1 school.
“It would mean a lot (to earn an offer from Florida) because a lot of my family are Florida fans and my dad played receiver there,” he said. “I like the program there and the tradition and it’s real competitive there. I like competition, I like to work for my position. It would mean a lot to me, but I’ll look at other schools, too, and look at my position, playing time and how long (Florida) coach (Urban) Meyer will be there.”
Snead Jr. said that while his dad talks with Florida coaches more than he does, they have inquired about him this summer and were excited to hear that he would be working out in Gainesville in June. Snead Jr. said he’s hoping to make it back for Friday Night Lights in late July.
Florida also stands out for Snead Jr. because his former Glades Central teammate Deonte Thompson is still in town. The two were only teammates for a short amount of time before Snead Jr. moved to Michigan, but he said he learned a lot from Florida’s redshirt junior receiver. The two were able to hang a bit while he was in Gainesville.
Snead Jr. said his competitive nature came from working with Thompson and hopes to carry on the same leadership skills Thompson displayed in high school after “totally committing himself to football” and leading his team to a state championship.
“I want to be like him,” Snead Jr. said of Thompson. “He was a great player and a great leader and developed my leadership skills. Hopefully, like him, I can take my team to the sate championship and win it.
“That would be a big deal if he came back (to Florida) instead of going to the (NFL) draft because I want to play and train with him for one year.”
As far as recruiting goes, Snead Jr. said things are heating up with schools he’s checked out this summer, like Troy, Ball State, Toledo, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Michigan State. He’s hoping to get back to the South to visit schools. But he’s waiting for other schools to start getting more involved. As of now, he’s looking to narrow things during the middle of his high school season and hopes to commit somewhere after his senior year.