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McCalister makes No. 20 for Gators

1/23/2012
Four-star DE Alex McCalister says UF linebackers coach D.J. Durkin had a lot to do with his choosing to become a Gator. Miller Safrit/ESPN.com

As Florida's big recruiting weekend came to a close Monday, the Gators landed their third verbal commitment in the last three days.

On Monday afternoon, four-star defensive end Alex McCalister (Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth) joined Florida's other weekend pledges, linebacker Bryan Cox Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) and 2013 running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, Fla./Winter Haven).

McCalister said his relationship with the Florida coaches is what ultimately persuaded him to choose the Gators over Georgia Tech and North Carolina.

"Really it was the people down there," McCalister said. "Coach Muschamp, Coach Durkin, Coach Quinn, T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] -- all of them are just cool people. Me and my family just really talked about it and weighed our options. When I finally went down there this weekend, that's when I felt the most comfortable."

McCalister added that he wasn't sure at one point during his recruitment that Florida even wanted him.

"I lost connection with Florida, so we probably didn't talk for like a month," he said. "But then [Florida linebackers coach] D.J. Durkin flew here. We had like an hour-and-a-half conversation. That is when we really connected, and I was like, 'OK, they really want me as a school.' And that's when I knew I wanted to go there."

McCalister joins a group of prospects in Durkin's primary recruiting area that includes D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek), Rhaheim Ledbetter (Shelby, N.C./Crest) and his Crest teammate, Jonathan Bullard .

McCalister said Durkin was a big reason for his decision.

"Coach Durkin does such a great job,"he said. "Having developed a relationship with Coach Durkin is just awesome, because he is such a cool person. He definitely did a lot."

West Forsyth head coach Adrian Snow said that McCalister hasn't even begun to reach his potential.

"It's amazing," Snow said. "He's done that because God's given him that. He's not done that through work, and now that you put work with that, the sky is the limit for him. He's a great kid and he's got so many intangibles that you just can't coach.

"I don't know that there is another kid that's coming in that has what he has in a sense that he ran the pro shuttle at 4.06, that has vertical jumped 35 inches barefooted. He's broad jumped over 10 feet."

Snow said McCalister got to where he is because of the effort he has put in.

"He transferred here last spring and had no offers, and by now he has over 20 offers," Snow said. "He's worked hard, he's done what he's had to do."

McCalister, who patterns his game after NFL veterans Jason Taylor and DeMarcus Ware, said that Florida will use him in a few different ways.

"They want me at what they call the buck linebacker," he said. "In a 4-3 scheme I will have my hand in the ground rushing, in a 3-4 scheme I will be a stand-up outside linebacker."

McCalister said he's just ready to get to Gainesville and get started.

"I'm a Gator now." he said. "Get ready, we are going to win a lot of games down there."