The first official commitment for new Florida coach Jim McElwain is from Atlanta.
Daniel Imatorbhebhe, a 3-star tight end from North Gwinnett High School, committed to Florida over Cal on Tuesday. He had been looking for a new school since backing off his pledge to Missouri in September.
“I felt at home at Florida,” Imatorbhebhe told the AJC. “It was huge to have the support of my family. They will be able to go to my games and follow what I’m doing at Florida. They’re not too close, but not too far away.
“I’ve always watched Florida growing up — guys like Tim Tebow to Percy Harvin. I enjoyed watching them dominate, and I want to go there and build on that type of legacy.”
Cal appeared to be in the lead for Imatorbhebhe until a recent turn of events. McElwain was in Atlanta on a recruiting trip last week, and called to request an in-home visit later the same day.
“It was my birthday, and he asked if he could come over,” Imatorbhebhe said. “He came in, and he just won my parents over. He’s just a guy that I have a lot of respect for. I believe in the vision of what he’s trying to do at Florida.”
Imatorbhebhe thought long and hard about his decision before announcing the winner on Tuesday. Football was not the most important factor.
“At the end of the day, I asked myself ‘What are my goals in life? And which school will help me reach those goals?’” Imatorbhebhe said.
“Was my goal in life to be a great football player and make a bunch of money? Is it to play for a team that competes for national championships? No, that’s not my goal at all. My goal in life is to make it to heaven.
“So I just felt like Florida was the best place for me, and not just for football reasons. It’s a great place for me to grow spiritually. Football is not forever.”
Soon after Imatorbhebhe committed on Tuesday, he thought he got an offer from Auburn. But he later realized that someone had played a prank on him. It didn’t matter because his decision is made, and now he’s doing paperwork to enroll at Florida in January.
The 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end originally committed to Missouri last spring. However, he backed off that pledge after Missouri got upset about him taking an official visit to Florida in September.
Daniel’s younger brother, North Gwinnett wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe, is one of the state’s top prospects for 2016 and expected to eventually commit to Florida, too.