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Sunday, July 28, 2013
No. 1 TE in 2015 clicks with Gators

By Jeff Barlis

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The University of Florida football program has spent time in the last few weeks trying to erase the memory of former tight end Aaron Hernandez, the All-American who was charged with murder last month. But the subject still came up at the Gators' premier recruiting showcase, Friday Night Lights.

Devonaire Clarington (Miami/Westminster Christian), the nation's top tight end prospect in the Class of 2015, had heard the latest buzz -- none of it good -- but said he doesn't believe it puts a stain on Florida.

Devonaire Clarington
2015 prospect Devonaire Clarington is the No. 1-rated tight end in the ESPN Junior 300.
"A lot of people are talking about Hernandez, but that doesn't faze me," he said. "That was his fault."

For coaches and fans eager to move on, bringing in a top-flight prospect at the position might be the best medicine.

"Everything was good out here," he said. "I love the vibe and the weather. It's not as bad as Miami, so everything is good."

Clarington, a standout at 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds, believed he performed well with the limited reps available.

"There were too many people," he said of the roughly 400 campers. "But I did what I had to do."

It was good enough to command the attention of Florida tight ends coach Derek Lewis, who spent plenty of time with Clarington on the field and off.

"He said I'm a prototype and there are not too many guys with my height who can run like me and jump," Clarington said.

The two struck up the beginnings of a relationship, one Clarington expects to grow.

The same could be said for his feelings about the Gators. Clarington put UF in his top five after the FNL visit and cited the location as a big reason. He explained that he has family all over the state and hopes to play somewhere close enough to see those familiar faces in the stands.

"I would like to send all of them tickets to see me dominate," he said.