The University of Florida's recent recruiting momentum continued on Tuesday morning when they officially landed the services of four-star running back Mike Blakely from Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee. Blakely is considered the No. 9 player in the Sunshine State and No. 34 player in the nation according to Rivals.com.
The 5-foot-9, 195-pound running back chose the Gators over the Auburn Tigers as well as numerous other offers. He said he made the decision last Wednesday but had to wait until nearly a week later to officially announce it.
"This was I think the best decision for me and my family and my friends. I appreciate this opportunity and my recruitment. It is an exciting day for me. In my heart I feel like I made the best decision for me," Blakely said. "I will be going to Florida."
"It came down to where I feel I have the best opportunities and it was Florida for me," Blakely added.
As a senior, Blakely has been battling an ankle injury but is still putting up impressive rushing numbers. In addition to those offensive stats, he has also thrown for two touchdowns as well. His versatility in the offense is a big reason why he expects to fit well in Gainesville.
"I see an immediate opportunity there," Blakely said of the Gator offense.
His coach, Joe Kinnan, also believes Blakely fills a hole that exists at this time on the Florida roster.
"Just watching Florida on television, they are struggling at the running back position and they have some speed guys - (Chris) Rainey and (Jeff) Demps - and they have (Emmanuel) Moody, more of a power guy," Kinnan said. "I think Mike is a complete back."
"He can run inside or run outside," Kinnan said. "He is a very explosive running back. He has great speed and great vision at finding the hole. He can also line up in the wildcat and throw the ball. If he was 6-foot-2, he could be a Division I quarterback. He has actually been our back-up quarterback the last four years."
According to Blakely, the Florida coaching staff is just excited to be adding another explosive athlete to their offense. He said they are not quick to limit him to one position or role in their offensive attack.
"They just want me to come in there and play," Blakely said. "I can play at almost anything they put me at. So if something is not going good at one position for them and they want to just to throw me in that spot, they can just put me at anything as long as I know what I am doing."
The talented back believes his role can be similar to a former Gator great, who is now in the NFL.
"They have told me they want to use me like Percy (Harvin), and that is the same thing that my school does with me now," Blakely said. "I can play as a back, in the slot, as a wide receiver, and on kick returns. If they need me on defense, then I will play defense. I am just going to help the team out any way that I can."
As for the recruiting process, Blakely said he has grown tired of it and is final in his decision. He will still take an official visit to Gainesville, possibly for their game against South Carolina. He expects to enroll at Florida in January and participate in spring practice. He doesn't expect to redshirt as a freshman.
"Really what they want me to do is just come play," Blakely said. "If you want to go down the field and catch the ball, catch the ball, if you want to run a reverse or run up the middle, just do it, just play your football game."