CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Last weekend, ESPN 150 wide receiver Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek) took his first official visit to Florida to check out the Gators. According to Ramondo North, Marquez’s father, the visit was a good one.
“Everything went well, and I think he liked it,” Ramondo said. “I know he loved the crowd and how electric it was. I think he got a lot out of his first official.”
The Gators defeated the Tigers 14-6 and have since replaced LSU as the No. 4-ranked program in the country. North’s father said he and Marquez were a little caught off guard by what they saw on Saturday.
“We noticed they did not throw the ball that much,” Ramondo said. “Considering the Florida that we are used to, they ran the ball a lot. They might have had 15 passes. The offense picked up a little in the second half, but I think we were looking for more passes.”
Another aspect that stood out was the number of wideouts returning to Gainesville in 2013.
“They actually have a lot of wide receiver prospects coming in this class already,” Ramondo said. “They have three from Florida and one from Georgia, and they are looking at Marquez and one more guy. They also have two leaving and one actually transferring out, but otherwise they will have the entire crew returning. There are going to be a lot of receivers, but I do not think anyone with Marquez’s height is coming in. They are having a lot of guys coming in to compete in the pro-style offense that they are sticking with.”
While Marquez did not mention the lack of passing or crowded depth chart, he was impressed with the game-day experience at The Swamp.
“I liked everything about the trip to Florida,” North said. “I thought Florida ran the pro-style offense pretty well, and they just got it done in the second half. They kept the defense off the field and did a nice job taking time off the clock. The atmosphere in the stadium was crazy, and you could not hear anything. The game itself was probably the best part about the visit.”
The Gators impressed North for other reasons as well, and the coaches tried to sell the 6-foot-3 senior, rated No. 14 in the nation among wide receivers, on adding a different aspect to the passing attack next year.
“Florida just told me they could use me vertically to give them something new in the offense, because they do not have any tall receivers like me,” North said. “Coach (Will) Muschamp and his staff are really straightforward. They tell it like it is. I also know Florida has the second-highest graduate rate in the SEC. They have tremendous history and D.J. (Humphries) has [been] trying to get me down there forever.”
The visit might not have pushed Florida over the top, but the Gators have put themselves strongly in the mix with the four-star receiver.
“Tennessee is still my No. 1, but I really enjoyed Florida, and I plan to go back at some point,” North said.
A few weeks ago, North took an unofficial trip to check out Tennessee. According to North and his father Ramondo, the Volunteers are very appealing because of how the depth chart shapes up for 2013.
“Tennessee does not have a lot of wideouts returning, and they pass the ball more than 15 times a game,” Ramondo said. “Playing time is not his biggest factor, but it is mine. Marquez actually wants to go to school and learn, but I do not want him to be on a team and not play. It can take a lot out of you to start your entire life and then not play, so I think the best place for him will be a place he can learn and get better, instead of just watching.”
Marquez had similar thoughts following his trip to Knoxville.
“I just thought Tennessee was a great place to be,” North said. “The atmosphere was crazy. I could tell the difference in SEC football in that regard. With Tennessee, they have a lot of seniors at receiver, so I feel like I would get a chance to go in there, learn the offense and start pretty quick. The chance to play early is really important, because everyone wants to be able to have a great start to their college career. There are not really any other legitimate factors other than playing time and education. That, the atmosphere and just the success rate with their graduation is drawing me to Tennessee. Right now they are my leader.”
North said he plans to take his next official to Tennessee on Oct. 19 for the Alabama game. In the meantime, he and his father are playing it week by week, according to specific game matchups. They also have seen North Carolina this fall, and the Tar Heels are right there in the next group after Tennessee.
“North Carolina just feels like home,” North said. “It is close, and they have the spread now, so they are trying to get the ball out to their playmakers in a number of ways. “'Quise [Marquise Williams] tells me all of the time I need to get down there. I am comfortable with them right now, so we will just have to wait and see how it goes.”
Another program North has seen multiple times is Clemson.
“I like the Clemson offense and all of the packages they have to get the ball out to different receivers and running backs,” North said. “It is really balanced. They do have a lot of receivers compared to Tennessee.”
Georgia and Ohio State also are in the mix.
“I have not been down to Georgia this year, but they were one of the first teams to recruit me, so I want to just go down there and see what they have to offer,” North said. “Coach (Everett) Withers from North Carolina has been calling me and telling me how great of a place Ohio State is, and Urban Meyer is a great coach. So I just want to see what they are all about.”
North says that in addition to Tennessee, he plans to take official visits to Georgia and Ohio State, with the fifth and final trip up for grabs. He feels he does not need to take an official to UNC or Clemson, because he has seen them before and they are close by. While his father stated earlier he wanted his son to make his decision this year, he now feels it could take until signing day if North is not ready. Marquez hopes to be done much sooner if possible.
“I am trying to make my decision as soon as possible after I take my officials,” North said.