"It means a lot to become a part of Gator Nation , and I know there will be a lot of expectations,” Nick Waisome said. “The Gators will help me to accomplish my goals. I know I will be associated with some of the best alumni in the nation and will be on the biggest pedestal in college football. I am looking forward to getting out there and competing, I am going to give it my all and try to make the best first impression, ready to get coached and do all I can to become successful. All the coaches pretty much know that I wanted to become a Gator. I am going to call Coach Meyer when I am done with the television show to let him know that I am officially a Gator."
For Waisome and his family, the recruiting experience was taken very seriously. Visits, research and countless hours of studying each potential university went into the decision making process.
Nick Waisome at Friday Night Lights
"It was a culmination of things. I have visited Florida so many times and every time I went there more and more I would fall in love with it. Just the atmosphere and the relationship between the coaches. I just have a great feeling about them. They have great academics and the coaching staff is phenomenal, can't get any better. I visited the websites of many schools and studied each school of interest, their focus, division, graduation rate, depth chart of the position I played, size of the student body, and championships. These were some of the things that University of Florida set apart from other schools. I think they have a strong background historically and I read about accomplishments of their graduates, some of them in spite of hard times were able to recover and still pursue their dreams."
Waisome talked about the importance of the Florida coaches and what they stressed to him each time they spoke.
"They all want the best for their players and talk to them on a regular basis. One, you're going to get your education. Two, they are going to compete for championships. Three, they are going get you ready for the NFL."
The entire staff did a fantastic job throughout the recruiting process but four of them took charge to show Waisome how important he is for the 2011 class.
Coach Teryl Austin: “Coach Austin is my position coach. I talk to him a lot and I like the way he coaches me it reminds me of how I am being coached right now. He is calm at times and can get aggressive when needed. I like what he expects of his defensive backs and we get along real well, real nice guy."
Coach Dan McCarney: "I have a great relationship with Coach Mac. I talk to him on a regular basis and he is cool and enthusiastic about the Gators and positive in what they have to offer. I love his character and he seems like he likes a winner in everything he does."
Coach Chuck Heater: "Coach Heater I get along with real well. He is down to earth he doesn’t say much but when he does it is something to take note of. He is smart and I feel he has been around the game for a while and knows what he is talking about."
Waisome liked the way Meyer gets along with his players
Coach Urban Meyer: "Head honcho around Florida but really and truly I believe he is the most interactive coach I have met in this process. I have never seen another head coach that spends as much time with the player as he does. Seems like he loves what he does and enjoys the game. We are real close and I talk to him probably every time I get on the phone with somebody from their staff."
The recruiting process has been a daunting and sometimes grueling experience not only for Waisome but his entire family.
"It’s been a haul,” Waisome said. "I have been working hard on keeping up with my school work and being able to handle phone calls from reporters and doing interviews, but it has been a lot of fun. I have made initial contacts with coaches and they call me back to back telling me about their school and what they have to offer. It has been a process. I would have to say that the best part about this process for me and my family is getting to meet new people and building relationships with others. Meeting new people and having friends is always nice. The worst part would have to be having to deal with all the interviews. I mean, sometimes you could get up to 10 people to call you in one day, that’s my record, which can get a little annoying at times."
The excitement level throughout the Waisome household is at an all-time high. It's a decision the lock-down corner has thought about since his 10th grade season.
"The excitement level to get this decision out of the way is high. I’m pumped and ready to actually associate my name with a college team and get into the program and reach my highest ability, also ready to focus and lead my high school team to a championship. The first time that I realized I could play major college football was when Coach Cox, Under Armour defensive back coach had seen me back in 10th grade and for some reason couldn’t get over the fact that I was special, and I was going to be a very good defensive back some day, in his words, ‘the best in the nation.’”
Southlake High School head coach Walter Banks certainly agrees.
"Nick is a cover corner and one of the best corners I have seen in high school. I think he will fit in great because they will play a lot of cover 0 and cover 1. He is a great student in the classroom and student of the game, which is the reason he will be graduating early in December. His best attribute ishis cover skills. Things I think he needs to work on for the collegiate level are his tackling skills. Florida will be a great place for him to become a better player."
For any prospect making a decision of this magnitude its special for not only the player but those close to him. In this case both Mr. and Mrs. Waisome have been a very important part of the overall decision-making process. Adding the television element into the equation makes it even more special for his parents.
"This is a humbling experience for us to support Nick as he chooses the university he would like to attend on TV, which is just the beginning of the process," Mr. Waisome said. "We are happy for the opportunity to thank all the universities that expressed verbal and written offers and communicated with us throughout which was overwhelming. We appreciate the lovely things they said about our son and remark at wonderful opportunities that awaits high school students just like him to pursue a college education and explore academic and athletic avenues."
Waisome’s mother has been there every step of the way. She remembers all the thrills and game changing plays he has made over the years. Mrs. Waisome described her son best as someone who plays the game of football the way the game is supposed to be played.
"Football, I would say thrills. Wow. Nick made many awesome plays with the techniques he has learned from experienced coaches so far. He is committed to a lot of hard work to prepare him for college- level football. He applies himself well, obeying the rules of the game, further maintaining keen coverage skills as a cornerback. Also, it is admirable the good relationship he has with his teammates as he demonstrates leadership with the goal to win."
Mr. and Mrs. Waisome are proud parents. They are proud of their son and what he has been able to accomplish over the years. They are proud of what he will accomplish in the coming years and they are proud to be Gators.
"On behalf of our family, we are excited to be a part of the Gator family and the Gator Nation,” Mr. Waisome. “Once Nick caught a baby gator and brought it into our house to show us. He explained to us how he caught it. Mom especially was marveled as she never thought he would have done that. We talked about how dangerous the gator is; however, we all gently touched it, admired the skin and structures of the baby gator, then Nick had to put it back in the canal where he caught it. Now, hopefully that gator has grown. I do hope Nick will also grow with the Gators in The Swamp."
Is it time to consider Southlake a Gator pipeline? Waisome will join former teammates running back Jeff Demps and offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison.
"Well as you can see, both have been successful since they have been at Florida, and I talk to Harrison here and there asking him questions as to what it’s like and if he’s liking it. What does he think if I chose them, what kind of difference I would make? What the coaches say about me? And from those questions, I got real reasonable answers back, and I was pleased. This feedback also helped in the process of making a decision."
Head coach Walter Banks has coached five players over the years that ended up in Gainesville. Could 2012 superstar P.J. Harris be next in line?
"This is my fifth player that will be attending Florida with Ryan Carter and Carlton Medder (Demps, Harrison, Waisome)being the first from when I was a position coach. I think P.J. Harris will be great at safety or wide receiver. He only has one verbal offer from South Carolina right now, but I think that will increase after this season."
The Swamp, for Florida players and fans, has become a mythical place to play over the years and for Waisome he eagerly awaits his debut.
"I can't wait to call it home, I mean it holds one of the biggest crowds in the NCAA. I mean to hear the crowd screaming the Orange and Blue and have them all on your back it's got to be an experience of a lifetime. I just want to run out with the team. I'm going to do the best I can to put on a show. I will be the guy you see locked up 1 on 1 and don’t have to worry about. I am a fighter and will not give up till the clock strikes 0."
Waisome as the leader of this team sets an example on and off the field for all of his Southlake teammates including Harris.
"The things that I have tried to teach them are to go hard every day," Waisome said. “To never put other kids on the team down and to bring them up so they can be on your level and want to win as much as you do. Also to be a playmaker cause when one play is made it becomes contagious to the team and everybody will make plays. Most of all I tell them to keep humble and stay hungry."
Waisome often puts other people's needs before his own. He is a regular participant in community service, helps local churches, neighborhood businesses and school sponsored drives.
Waisome has been raised the right way. He has been raised to put others before himself and stay the course of what's important on and off the field. It starts with his parents who have made numerous sacrifices over the years. Mr. and Mrs. Waisome wouldn't have it any other way.
"We realized this opportunity from his first combine," Mr. Waisome said. "He likes the game and had good talents. As part of our daily family life, it is very welcoming. As parents, we understand and make simple sacrifices providing the best instructions to keep him focused on- and- off field at all times. As his dad, we develop a strong father and son bond, which will help him in his future goals. I have also reminded him to put God first in every situation and to be smart in his actions. Mom stands by dad and agrees with the things that dad teaches our son and adds, we as parents bond with our son, he may also apply this knowledge appropriately interacting with his teachers, mentors, and coaches. I always remind him to make his best contributions, to be cooperative and have peace and love with everyone. First we thank the lord for his blessings and very proud of Nick. We sincerely appreciate all his teachers, coaches, family, friends and acquaintances. Nick received over 30 written scholarship offers from Universities such as Arkansas, Louisville, Nebraska, Rutgers, LSU, Stanford, Vanderbilt, Duke, Purdue, Michigan, Ole Miss, Wake Forest, FSU, Miami, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and others."
Waisome is coming off a very impressive year for head coach Walter Banks and Southlake. Waisome was named the defensive and overall team MVP in 2009, the Daily Commercial MVP and first team selection, Orlando Sentinel All Central Florida first team and the Lake County High School Athlete of the Year Sports Award.
Coach Banks has been asked numerous times about his star corner and the first thing he thinks of is very simple - player.
"It is a joy to coach Nick and to be around an athlete of that caliber that is not only a great football player, but a great student, great person, and comes from a good family. The only negative thing about coaching him is he asks way too many questions."
There is great anticipation surrounding the Southlake program this season and no one is more excited than Banks.
"The excitement level this year is off the charts. Our strengths this year will be at the wide receiver and defensive back positions. This year’s senior class will be remembered as the group that bought into my program, because I have had these kids since their freshman year."
The entire Southlake program has one goal, to compete and get better each play no matter what happens.
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