This past weekend, one of Rivals.com's initial five-star prospects for the 2012 class, 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive tackle John Theus made his way to the University of Florida for a Junior Day visit. The Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles product came away impressed by what he saw in Gainesville.
"I went and did the whole Junior Day deal," Theus said. "We got to watch a practice. I really liked it. I liked all of the new coaches and their styles of coaching. I think one of the biggest things for me is the coaches at a University. I really liked Coach (Frank) Verducci, their offensive line coach, and Coach (Charlie) Weis as well as Coach (Will) Muschamp. I like their style of coaching, they like to teach. They really get after you. I was able to sit down and talk with them as well as some of the players. It was really a great visit. I really liked it."
Theus talked about how Will Muschamp and staff differ from the former regime for the Gators.
"It is just a different style of coaching," Theus said. "I didn't dislike Urban Meyer, and I am not talking bad about him, but I wasn't the biggest fan of his coaching and their style of play. Different coaches and different styles work for different people. I really like Coach Muschamp and how they are running things. I think the players there now are really responding well to things from what I saw."
When Muschamp was assembling his staff, he went out of his way to hire assistants with NFL experience. That is appealing to the top-tier linema.
"It is neat," Theus said. "You know you are dealing with coaches that have the experience and knowledge of what it takes to be a pro. They can really help the kids with what they need in order to go to the next level. That is good. Coach Weis and Coach Verducci spent a lot of time in the pros and they have a lot of connections. They are going to get you prepared if you go there."
While numerous prospects were on campus, Theus got a good bit of personal attention from the coaching staff.
"We did lunch with Coach Weis and Coach Verducci," Theus said. "We also got a chance to sit down and talk with Coach Muschamp in his office. Coach Muschamp just asked me how I liked practice and was making sure that I knew that they want me there. He was saying how I am the right fit for them and that they are the right fit for me."
"Coach Verducci, he was mainly saying the same thing," Theus added. "He was saying how he is going to try to recruit the five best linemen in this class because they really need them. He was just telling me what they are all about."
During the visit, Theus also had the opportunity to speak with some of the current players including former Bolles quarterback Chandler Can and Fleming Island defensive back Malcolm Brown, both walk-ons, as well as current offensive linemen Ian Silberman, who also hails from the First Coast area, and Tampa product Chaz Green.
"We didn't really talk much about the difference with the coaches, but they told me about the meetings and stuff," Theus said. "They seem like they were happy the whole time and having a good time. They were out there competing. They were getting after each other and getting on to each other as well. I think they really like the new coaching staff and are responding well to them."
Theus will travel to the University of Georgia on the weekend of April 1st to attend a Bulldog practice. John's younger brother, Nathan Theus, will be an incoming freshman in Athens this summer and a part of Mark Richt's program. With that family tie to the Peach State program, that has led many to presume that the younger Theus, John, is a lock to play in Athens. He dismissed that thought when asked about it.
"A lot of people presume that I am a Georgia lock but I am not," Theus said. "There are a lot of people that have been saying that in magazines and other articles, but they don't know what they are talking about. We have said since day one that I am going to make my own decision and Nathan was going to make his own decision. He made the decision to go to Georgia. I am going to do whatever is best for me. I love my brother and that is a plus for Georgia, but at the end of the day I am going to do what is best for me."
At this point, Theus claims no leader. He said he plans to take a few visits during the summer and then name a top five. At this time, some of his summer visits are likely to include Florida State, Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, and North Carolina.
"I just want to find a great school that I can get a great education at," Theus said. "I want to do Pre-Med, so that is important. I am also looking at a school that will compete nationally. I want to go somewhere that is a good football program year-in and year-out. I want somewhere that I really get along with the coaching staff and the players there."