Florida’s hopes of adding another defensive end in the 2013 class have dwindled over the past week.
Elijah Daniel (Avon, Ind.) has reportedly fell too far behind academically, while USC commit Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) and Mississippi State commit Chris Jones (Houston, Miss.) say they will no longer visit the Gators.
Logan (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkdemiche officially visited UF this weekend, but Ole Miss has an insurmountable lead for the nation’s No. 1 overall prospect.
As of now, Auburn commit Tashawn Bower (Somerville, N.J./Immaculata) appears to be the only viable option left on the board.
The ESPN150 member also took an official to Florida over the weekend, which was his first trip to Gainesville in two years.
“It went well,” Bower said. “I haven’t been down since my sophomore year, so it was nice to see the school and campus again.”
The highlight of Bower’s return to UF was meeting Jeff Dillman, director of strength and conditioning.
“It was impressive to see him and the training staff at work,” Bower said. “That stuck out to me the most. I like the way they develop their players and I definitely feel they could get me to the NFL.”
Former UF defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had been Bower’s primary recruiter, but he left the Gators on Thursday for the same position in Seattle.
However, Quinn’s departure hasn’t hurt Florida’s chances with Bower.
“I talked to coach (Will) Muschamp and he said it’s still his defense. Nothing is going to change with the scheme and he told me he will find the right guy to coach defensive ends. So I’m not worried about anything and I think D.J. Durkin will do a great job,” Bower said.
The 6-foot-5, 241-pounder has now taken officials to Auburn, Florida and Florida State, and he will visit LSU next weekend followed by an unofficial to Auburn on Feb. 1. Bower remains committed to the Tigers, but he’s unsure of how strong his pledge is because he has a lot to digest over the next two weeks.
For the Gators to flip him, Bower said he wants UF to recruit him harder than any other school from now until National Signing Day.
“I actually grew up a Gator fan, but I never really considered them in the beginning because the coaches didn’t recruit me that much,” Bower recalled. “Things have started to pick up this month because they missed on some guys, but I still want to see more from them.”
Bower was informed by the Florida staff that defensive linemen Joey Ivie (an early enrollee) and Antonio Riles will eventually become tackles, and weakside defensive end Jordan Sherit could redshirt next season because he’s recovering the torn ACL he suffered in October.
“The coaches told me they really need me in this class and the opportunity is there for me to come in and play right away,” Bower said.