football

Cowart done naming favorites

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The nation's No. 1 prospect is done naming favorites. He's not interested in releasing a top five. Ask Byron Cowart, and he'll simply tell you he's weighing his options.
"I don't have a leader anymore," the 6-foot-3, 252-pound defensive end from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood said, having mentioned Alabama, Oregon and Florida as leaders in the past.
"I don't want to lead anybody on."
As it stands, Cowart said he plans on releasing a top 10 by September at the latest. He said wants to talk to his coaches, his mother Lacroria Wilson, and to "my guys," a group of elite prospects he called out by name.
"George Campbell, Ryan Davis, Ray-Ray McCloud III, Auden Tate - we all like the same schools," he said. "Those guys are all receivers and I'm the only defensive end. I want to go with those guys because they're good players. I know they're going to score and then I'll be right back on the field. We're all just making our top 10s because we want to take all our officials together too."
In addition to what his fellow top recruits want, it may be Wilson who plays the biggest role.
"I tell schools from the get-go the fact I'm an only child, the biggest thing is getting my mom there so she can see it," he said. "Everyone has their own opinion until they actually get to the place and visit."
As Cowart continues to go through the recruiting process, Florida State has become the latest school to emerge. What separates the defending national champions from most other schools recruiting him is that it's the only one besides Florida that Wilson has visited with him.
On Friday - the same day Florida's Friday Night Lights took place in Gainesville, where Cowart was noticeably absent - Cowart and Wilson were in Tallahassee, her for the first time.
"She loved everything about it," he said. "She met coach (Jimbo Fisher) and she felt like he was telling the truth. Everything (with her) is about me being taken care of and she felt like the dorms where I'd be living was top-of-the-line stuff."
Having Wilson's approval is a big first step in acquiring Cowart's services. Florida and, after Friday, Florida State both have that.
"I'm not going to psyche myself up on a school and get hyped or happy on a place where I know my mom's not going to like," Cowart said. "There's no point. I'm going to respect my mom. I know she supports me wherever I want to go, but at the same time I just want her to get a feel for the school.
"Now that she has a feel for it, Florida State will be another team at the top."
As for not attending Friday Night Lights to be in Tallahassee, Cowart said Gators fans shouldn't read too much into that.
"The thing about it, I went to Friday Night Lights last year," he said. "I showed up, I got my offer, I met (CeCe Jefferson). … We already have our offers and we don't have to be there. I know that, Florida knows that and we're all comfortable with that. The fans - somebody's always looking for something."
While Cowart was in Tallahassee, the visit went beyond he and Wilson speaking with Fisher, touring the campus and getting a feel for student life. Cowart also spent one-on-one time with Seminoles defensive ends coach Sal Sunseri, deep-diving into the playbook.
Cowart has been a fan of Sunseri's because of his NFL experience and the fact that he coached one of Cowart's idols, defensive end Julius Peppers. Sunseri coached Peppers when he was defensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers.
"Coach Sal's playbook is phenomenal," Cowart said. "It's crazy. He has so many plays and that was just in the nickel package. And that's great. That's an NFL-type playbook and I know it's going to take some time to learn it. But I don't have a problem with that. I've talked to the players and they say it's tough, but it's worth it and you'll learn it."
It was following his meeting with Sunseri that Cowart came to a realization: Despite all of his visits to Florida over the years, he never had an in-depth discussion with the Gators coaching staff about their playbook.
"Maybe that's on me," Cowart said. "Maybe I need to do a better job when I take another visit to Florida. I mean, I've sat down with (defensive line coach Brad Lawing) - me and CeCe both - and gone over some little stuff, but I need to see the playbook. I need to see the installations. Like, I want to sit down and say, 'OK, coach, say if I was to come here right now, what would be the installations for me as a freshman?'"
While the Seminoles have gained an advantage over the Gators as being the first to give Cowart a feel for what role he'll play in their defense specifically, both schools are still in a good place since Wilson's been there and likes both.
In the case of Oregon - another school in the mix - Cowart nor Wilson have visited campus despite Cowart being in Oregon earlier this month for The Opening.
"It was too much of a hassle when it came to my transportation," Cowart said.
Cowart said he does plan on eventually taking an official visit to Eugene, with Wilson also making the trip.
As for the top 10 he plans on releasing, while he didn't name all the schools he did run off a few additions including Maryland, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Cowart said he'll visit Vanderbilt tomorrow and will try to get back to Florida State the first week of August. Those are his only two planned visits remaining this offseason.
Before he decides what college he plays for, there's still some on-the-field business he wants to take care of in his senior season for Armwood.
"I'm just going to take this season one game at a time and do what I've been coached to do," he said.
Adam Krohn is a Southeast Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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