On a recent trip to the Sunshine State, Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove defensive tackle Joel Hale decided to mix business with pleasure. While on his way to vacation in St. Petersburg, the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder decided to stop off in Gainesville to check out the University of Florida.
Though it was a slight interruption to his vacation, the layover was still productive for Hale.
"On the way down [to St. Pete] I decided to stop by Florida," explained Hale. "It's very nice. Obviously, the University of Florida name speaks for itself. It's the best. I never really thought I would have the opportunity to visit a place like Florida, but I guess they called my coach about a month ago and said they would like to get me on campus. I gave coach [Steve] Addazio a call and set everything up."
While on campus, Hale said he met with a pair of Gator coaches.
"I sat down with coach Addazio and he told me how Florida is different from all the other colleges. They compete for a national title every year, they have the academics, the fan support. How it all comes together at Florida. Then I got to meet coach [Dan] McCarney, the defensive line coach. It all went well."
Hale's trip to Gainesville was only his second unofficial visit outside of the Midwest region. The first being to Atlanta to check out Georgia Tech. Other than those two excursions to the south, Hale has stayed close to home for the most part.
"I've already been to Indiana, Purdue, Cincinnati, Kentucky and Ohio State," said Hale. "Those were all over the winter."
Whether or not Hale eventually ends up staying in the Midwest may just depend on what his final offer list looks like.
"I don't know yet," replied Hale when asked whether he preferred to stay closer to home for college. "When I went to Georgia Tech, I was there for a couple of days and felt so comfortable, like staying close to home or moving away wouldn't really effect my decision."
As his tape gets out there, Hale's offer list continues to expand.
"I have about 10 written offers," said Hale. "All the schools I'm looking at have offered except Ohio State and Florida. I think Ohio State is right there very close to offering. Coach 'Doc' Tressel has sent me hand written letters hinting that I am right there on the verge of getting offered.
"I think Florida wants to see how serious I am about going down there before they offer me. They want to get to know me a little more and see how serious I am about the University of Florida."