MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Pasco DL Joey Ivie’s chaotic recruiting process came to an end Saturday when the four-star prospect orally committed to Florida.
“It’s a relief,” Ivie said early Saturday evening. “I don’t have to worry about anything.”
Saturday’s decision ends a hectic four-month period in which Ivie went from an unsung hero to one of Tampa Bay’s top recruits.
Ivie was one of Pasco’s most important defensive players during the Pirates’ run to the Class 5A state semifinals, recording 53 tackles with eight sacks and earning first-team all-conference honors as a junior. But it wasn’t until the offseason that Ivie blossomed into Rivals.com’s No. 16 strongside defensive end prospect.
He added about 25 pounds to his 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame and became one of the state’s top weightlifters. Recruiters began to notice.
UMass gave Ivie his first offer in February. Major programs followed, and he received more than 20 scholarship offers during the spring. Alabama scouted him during spring ball, and Ivie chose UF over Miami, Florida State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Texas Tech, among others.
Ivie said he grew up a Gators fan, but it wasn’t until he began to look strongly at other schools that he knew he wanted to play for his favorite team.
He traveled to several major programs, including Tennessee, on Ricky Sailor’s Unsigned Preps bus tour this week. After seeing what the rest of the South had to offer, Ivie knew his decision. He gave UF coaches his commitment during a visit to Gainesville.
“Compared to all the other colleges, this is my home,” Ivie said. “This is where I want to play football for four years. This is where I want to be.”
Ivie joins Lakewood WR Rodney Adams as one of UF’s 17 commitments for the Class of 2013.
He’ll have plenty of company from the North Suncoast in Gainesville. Pirates teammate Jacob Guy will walk on as a quarterback for the Gators, and Land O’Lakes TE Kent Taylor signed with Florida in February.
If Ivie honors his commitment and signs with UF next year, it’s believed he will be the Pirates’ first Gators signee since FB Rob Roberts in 1997.