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May 4, 2010GATOR COACHES ON THE ROAD: UF visits N.J. athlete | Azzanni in the Muck on Tuesday | Gators go see 5-star linebacker | Gators check out state's top prospect | Football factory visited on Monday | 5-star lineman visited | Gators going to see big defensive tackle | Addazio visits northern lineman | Austin sees top safety
Last summer, St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) lineman Bobby Hart had his mind set on the Florida Gators.
While attending Friday Night Lights, the offensive lineman felt a connection with coaching staff that convinced him UF was where he wanted to be.
All Hart needed was an offer to make it official.
But to his disappointment, that didn't come until almost ten months later.
By that time, UF wasn't even in his top five.
"Last year at Friday Night Lights [the coaches] told me that they were really interested in me," explained Hart of the situation. "So I thought that September 1 (2009) I was going to get a Florida offer. So it was just like wow (when he got the offer later than expected). After I left Friday Night Lights, Florida was my number one school. I was even talking like 'soon as I get an offer I'm committing'. So I was always Florida this Florida that, wearing Florida gear everywhere. And then, it just fell off. They stopped showing interest in me and I wouldn't talk to the coaches that much. When coach [Billy] Gonzalez left (who was his primary recruiter at the time) that's when it really like stopped. I don't really have the relationship I had with coach Gonzalez with coach [Zach] Azzanni."
Azzanni has now been assigned to recruit the 6-foot-4, 283-pounder, and he has a great deal work to do before the Gators are back in Hart's good graces.
Back in February the two had a chance to get acquainted when Hart came to Gainesville after attending Florida State's Junior Day.
"I stopped by because I told coach Azzanni I would, and I'm a man of my word," said Hart. "What I liked about it the most was hanging out with Mike Pouncey, he's just a cool guy. I let him know Florida State was probably my leading school and he said that Florida State was too at once his leading school. In fact he was committed to Florida State and then he changed his mind. So the same thing might happen to me and then again it might not. So he just gives me a lot of advice and he's probably the player I talk to the most about the recruiting process."
According to Hart, the two speak regularly and there are times when football is not even discussed.
However, when Maurkice Pouncey was selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, his twin brother used it as a selling point with the prep star.
"Yeah he talked to me about it. He said it was real cool seeing his brother growing up, someone that he always played alongside of and been around his whole life just finally make it. He was just saying that Florida offers the same (opportunity) to me, so that goes a long way. He's someone that I sort of look up to besides my older brothers."
Hart revealed that Pouncey has an effective role in his recruitment with the Gators... big-time.
"Yeah it definitely does," said Hart. "It's his job to try and get me to come there, so it definitely plays its part. But I'm not going to lie; I'm not really as high on Florida as I used to be. I don't really know what happened, but he's probably what's keeping Florida still in it."
What will take for UF to propel itself back to the number one spot?
"My thing is always whoever's interested in me the most that's who I'm interested in, and it seemed like they weren't interested in me at all (in the beginning of his recruitment). But they're starting to make up ground now that I got the offer. It seems like they jumped backed on me because I'm on Florida State hard right now. I just don't the vibe from Florida like I used to. I wasn't really their priority, it seems like I wasn't needed at Florida I was just wanted a little bit because I did so good at camps. But Florida State broke down their depth chart and they expressed that they needed me; that made me feel good."
In order for Hart to feel good and completely comfortable, there are three main factors that will determine which college he chooses after his five official visits.
"First of all my offensive line coach, because that's going to be the person you're with the most for the next three to four years. Then just the atmosphere of the school; being able to live there because that's like your permanent home now. Then playtime time, if I feel like I can contribute to the team then I should have the opportunity to do that."
This summer Hart plans on camping at Florida State and Alabama (his top schools), as well as Florida, North Carolina and Wake Forest.