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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Timmons has a new group of finalists

By Dave Hooker

Just when it seemed Ryan Timmons' recruitment was getting simple, it got more complicated. That's what happens when an SEC powerhouse and a nearby college enter the race late.

Timmons told ESPN on Wednesday that he has eliminated Illinois, Arkansas and Purdue from the schools he is considering. That leaves just two former finalists -- Ohio State and Kentucky -- still in contention. Simple right? Nope.

Florida and Cincinnati have shaken up Timmons' recruitment significantly and become new finalists. Timmons knows the Bearcats well, sort of. He's been to the campus several times for football camps. Now, he has to get to know the newly hired coaching staff under Tommy Tuberville.

Whether he can do that before national signing day or not remains to be seen. What is known is that Cincinnati is extremely interested and has ramped up its recruitment of the ESPN 300 prospect.

"They like how I play," Timmons said, adding that he likes the Bearcats' campus.

There's another campus that Timmons likes as well. He will take his official visit to Ohio State this weekend. He's been to the Columbus campus plenty of times, but this will be the first time his mother accompanies him. He's said that she will be an important factor in his decision.

"I just want her to see the atmosphere, the coaches, the academics, the study hall and things like that," the nation's No. 252 prospect said. "... I've been there plenty of times, but I haven't seen the dorms and the players' lifestyle."

Mom won't have the final word in her son's recruitment. Her favorite school has already been eliminated.

"I think the Illinois trip was best for her," Timmons said, adding that his mother liked how the players' families interacted, the coaches and the education in Champaign.

Timmons said he plans to announce his commitment close to national signing day, but admitted he could make a verbal pledge this weekend in Columbus. That, however, doesn't seem likely.

"There could be a chance, but I've got one more visit to take to Kentucky," Timmons said. "I'll definitely have an idea after that."

That official visit may never happen if Florida continues to aggressively recruit Timmons. If the Gators keep coming on strong, he may take an official visit to Florida instead of Kentucky, then drive to nearby Lexington to see the Wildcats on his own.

"That's possible since Kentucky isn't that far away," the No. 4 prospect in Kentucky said.

Timmons said that last visit will take place on either Jan. 18 or Jan. 25. Florida has strong appeal thanks to its success and the recent hire of former Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips.

"They're winning and competitive," Timmons said of the Gators. "Coach Phillips is the wide receiver coach. We had a great connection. I've known him since I was a sophomore."

Timmons said he's not upset that Florida started recruiting him late. He said head coach Will Muschamp said he hadn't seen video on him until Phillips was hired.

The Gators have certainly been up front with Timmons. Coaches have told him that they are waiting on another prospect's decision before they extend a scholarship offer.

Credit Kentucky with keeping itself in the race for Timmons. It looked like the Wildcats had slipped significantly. Now, they're back in the hunt.

"It's good so far," Timmons said of the relationship with Kentucky coaches. "We've had good conversations."

Good enough to get Timmons on campus for an official visit? That depends largely on the Gators.