With all the success the Florida Gators have had in the last few days, it’s a surprise to see some sort of negative news associated with Ron Zook’s squad. But if you’re a Gator fan you definitely have to be concerned when one of your commitment players takes an official visit to hated rival FSU.
That recruit was Oviedo, Fla., standout defensive end Howard Lingard, who has been a Gator commitment since the middle of fall. And now Lingard, a three-star defensive end that is 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, is torn on what exactly he’s going to do.
In one breath he talks about how great UF’s class is and how the Gators are going to compete for national championships soon. But then in the next breath he talks about how great it would be to play for coaching legend Bobby Bowden.
To put it mildly, Lingard is confused.
“Right now, I’m in a dream,” Lingard said. “You have two of the most well known programs in the nation competing for you and telling you that they want you to become part of their program. It’s just like a dream for me. It took a lot of hard work – out working out in the heat and sweating while the others aren’t or out there running with a sweater when it’s cold. It’s just a dream to have Florida and State recruiting you like they are.”
But they are.
Lingard visited UF on January 10 and then was at FSU this past weekend. His grandmother is encouraging him to take one last visit to UCF this upcoming weekend, but there is no question that Lingard seems to be torn between the two bitter rivals.
“I still want you to list me as a Florida commit,” he said. “I have a strong feeling about Florida State and I have a strong feeling about Florida. People don’t know one thing about Ron Zook and the job that we’ve done recruiting. We have a great quarterback in Chris Leak, and we have a great receiver coming in from Alabama. It’s my class and I see a national championship at Florida no later than my third year there. Nobody can stop that.”
Well, that’s only true if he ends up in Gainesville.
“I took my visit to State this weekend because my dad really wanted me to see it,” he said. “After looking at things, it’s easy to see that Florida State isn’t too far away from winning it all again. Just look at how they played against Miami. They should have beat Miami. And it would be great to play for a coaching legend like Bobby Bowden.
“He might be 70 something but he still can relate to people like me. He and I talked like we were good friends from way back.”
Lingard said he’s not sure when he’s going to have a final decision, but he hopes it’s soon. He said he’s getting a lot of pressure from family, friends, doctors, teachers and about everybody else to make a decision.
“I’ve kind of got it down in my head,” he said. “It’s going to surprise some people. But I still need to do some thinking. I’ve got a lot of people asking me what I’m going to do and that’s getting a little old. My principle is a Gator, my doctor is asking me and telling me I should go to Florida State and then I hear it from my teachers, too.”
So who will Lingard turn to when he needs some advice?
“My grandma,” he said. “She just recently had heart surgery, and I would like to kind of be at a place where she could still see me and be happy with my decision.”
But there is a problem with that, too.
“Her favorite two teams are Florida and Florida State,” he said with a laugh. “Now you see my dilemma.”