When Charlie Strong took over the defensive coordinator position at the University of Florida, he knew he was inheriting a great core of players. From the secondary, where he has senior cornerback Keiwan Ratliff to the defensive line where he has SEC sack leader Bobby McCray, Florida had a great group of athletes and Strong was brought in to bring that group together.
But in the middle of Ratliff and McCray, stands a depleted linebacking group. Although true freshmen Channing Crowder and Earl Everett have done an excellent job filling in, the Gators know that in this year's recruiting class a must need position to stock up on is linebackers.
The Gators' number one target at linebacker is Lake Mary's Keith Rivers. With Rivers hinting at a move out West, the Gators have been in the process of looking at a few other targets at that position and one player in particular is Lawrence Timmons out of Florence (S.C.) Wilson High School.
While Strong was still defensive coordinator at South Carolina, he got a sneak peek at Timmons at a camp in Columbia before Timmons' junior year. Before the camp ended, Strong and South Carolina offered Timmons a scholarship and when Strong made his move to Florida, Timmons was one of the many players that he recommended to UF head coach Ron Zook about extending an offer.
The Gators did extend Timmons an offer and now sit pretty at the top of Timmons' short list of favorites.
"Florida, FSU, Michigan, Tennessee and Maryland are my top five," Timmons said.
The real surprise in this group is the recent surge of the Florida State Seminoles. Florida State and Arizona State are the two latest teams to offer the 6-3, 226-pound athlete in recent weeks. Although Timmons hinted that the Sun Devils maybe a little too far for him to go play football, he moved the Seminoles all the way up to number two on his list behind the Gators. The recent surge of the Seminoles has a lot to do with linebackers coach Kevin Steele.
"Basically he (Steele) was telling me that, 'We should have talked to you way before this time. We looked at film on you and saw how great you were,' and then they offered me," Timmons said.
Even though the Seminoles have leap-frogged most of the pack, they haven't skipped over the Gators just yet.
"They (Gators) have a pretty good coaching staff and they are a young team," Timmons said.
Missing from his top five are the in-state Gamecocks. A shock to many but Timmons has other plans about attending college.
"Most likely I am probably going out of state," Timmons said.
An interesting fact about Timmons' recruiting is that he has to keep two phone lines in his house so he can talk to coaches and reporters on one line and his family can still use the phone. However, most of the time that isn't the case because both phones never stop ringing for Timmons.
"I have been getting a lot of phone calls," Timmons said. "Some days it's six or seven and then some days it just keeps on ringing. I will be on one line and then the phone rings on the other line."
As recruiting starts to pick up and the season gets into the thick of things, Timmons is in no rush to set up official visits. He is focused on his high school season and has no official visits set up at this time.
"I will probably set them up after my season," Timmons said.
But Timmons did mention that he has three teams in mind for visits. Of course his top two of Florida and Florida State are looking real good for official visits but added that he would like to visit Michigan as well.
"They (Michigan) are in a pretty good conference and are short at the linebacker position," Timmons said. "I would have a good chance to get into the NFL. They are a pretty good linebacker school too."
With Florida, Florida State and Michigan rounding out Timmons' current top three, there are two more slots left open for official visits. Even with Tennessee and Maryland sitting in his top five right now, Timmons added that at any time his top five could change.
A curveball could be thrown into the picture if the Miami Hurricanes offer Timmons. Timmons' father is a Miami native and Timmons made it a point to attend a NIKE combine and camp at Miami to see if the Canes would offer. Although no offer is on the table yet from the Canes, no doubt Timmons wouldn't mind hearing from Coral Gables. While he waits anxiously to see who else offers, the soft-spoken Timmons is excited about taking visits in the near future.
"Probably when I go visit them," Timmons said would be the deciding factor on which school he chooses.
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