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Florida coach Dan Mullen and his staff are playing catchup with many recruits in the 2019 class, but not with Derrick McLendon.
The 4-star outside linebacker/defensive end from Tucker, Ga., received a scholarship offer last summer from Mullen when he was at Mississippi State. McLendon heard regularly from Bulldogs defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who followed Mullen to Florida.
Mullen re-offered McLendon on Jan. 25, and the recruit’s relationship with Grantham picked up where it left off.
“He’s a good guy,” McLendon said of Grantham, who serves as his primary recruiter. “He’s been recruiting me at every school he’s been at, so I feel like he really likes me. He has coached two players from my school, and he told me our school produces a good amount of talent. That’s why they’re one of my top-5 schools.”
The other finalists for McLendon are Florida State, Georgia, LSU and Tennessee. The Gators have been one of his top teams throughout his process.
“Florida was my first FBS school offer, and they’ve stayed with me since, even through the coaching change,” he said.
McLendon attended Florida’s scrimmage last Saturday, which was his first trip to Gainesville with the new staff. He said he enjoyed meeting with Grantham and seeing his 3-4 scheme at work.
“It was a good visit,” McLendon said. “I spoke with Coach Grantham afterwards. We talked about the scrimmage and how the defense would fit me. They changed the scheme from a 4-man front to a 3-man front, and I would play outside backer in their defense.
“I like how aggressive his outside backers are and how he teaches them to pass rush and drop. He wants them to have versatility. We play a 3-man front at my school, so I know the ins and outs of a 3-man front and I’m familiar with the defense.”
The 6-foot-3, 228-pound McLendon also kept a close eye on Mullen during the scrimmage and said he likes his coaching style. He was impressed when Mullen coached up Florida’s defensive ends on their pass rush.
“He got on their behind about tagging the quarterback,” McLendon said. “He told them to put two hands on the quarterback, and I understand what he means. One-hand tagging a quarterback leads to missing a tackle. If you get two hands on him, the chances of you making the tackle are much higher.
“So Coach Mullen means business. He wants to be great and he understands what it takes to be great. I think he’s installing that in the players.”
Up next for McLendon is a visit to LSU for its spring game on April 21. He will be on commitment watch following that trip.
“After I go to LSU I will have visited all of my top schools, so I think a decision might come,” McLendon said.
News & notes
The Gators will have another 4-star recruit from Georgia on campus this weekend. DJ Turner II, a top-300 cornerback from Suwanee, plans to attend the spring game on Saturday. It will his second trip to Florida this year after attending junior day in late February.
Back down at the swamp this weekend👀🐊
— DJ Turner II (@djturner_2019) April 10, 2018
Former Florida commit Marcus Tillman Jr. also will be at the spring game. He is one of several linebacker targets for the Gators and has formed a strong relationship with the new staff. Like Turner, Tillman visited Gainesville in February and told SEC Country the “championship mentality” is back at Florida.
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