Villages linebacker Noor Davis, left, pursues Lake Weir quarterback Dominique Owens at Lake Weir on Sept. 3, 2010. (Anthony Smith/Ocala Star-Banner)

One of the nation’s best linebackers is just down the road in Gator Country. South of Ocala in The Villages, you’ll find Noor Davis, who plays football and baseball for The Villages Charter School.

Davis, 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, is an outstanding student with a 4.3 GPA and sports NFL bloodlines in his father and also his uncle Andre Tippett, the NFL Hall of Fame linebacker from the New England Patriots.

Given UF’s glaring need for impact linebackers, those credentials ought to command the Gators’ full attention. And that’s exactly what Davis received when he visited campus for the Orange and Blue spring game last Saturday.

“They treated me outstanding,” Davis said. “Not only did I meet with all of the coaches, but I met with the president of the university, Bernie Machen, and the athletic director, Jeremy Foley. So it was a great trip just because they organized it so well. They just expressed how much interest they have in me.

“I definitely have interest in their program. They’re definitely going to be in my top five, and I’ll be back for an official [visit] as well.”

Making the cut is a significant accomplishment for Florida, as Davis can count dozens of offers from the top football programs in America. He has already traveled throughout the midwest and northeast to unofficially visit several schools and will take a swing through the west coast this summer to help narrow down his list.

Notre Dame has also made the cut, and Davis could have significant interest in Southern Cal, Stanford and UCLA after those unofficial summer visits. He was born in Los Angeles and says all of his family is in California. His immediate family moved to Florida just a couple of years ago when he was a freshman.

So the state connection may not be the biggest factor in Davis’ decision, but he’s a big fan of new Florida coach Will Muschamp.

“He coaches with so much passion, so energetic,” Davis said. “That’s something you really look for in a coach.”

Davis says Florida is interested in him at strongside linebacker because of his ability to drop into coverage as well as rush the passer. The Gators aren’t alone in that assessment, as the national recruiting website 247sports rates Davis the No. 1 outside linebacker in the country.

After he picks his top five schools and makes his official visits in the fall, Davis will announce his decision during the nationally televised Under Armour All-America Game in early January 2012.

You can be sure coaches and fans from coast to coast will be paying attention.

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