RECRUITING: The Big Hurt Says He'll be a Gator

The Big Hurt will be a Gator. Maurice Hurt, the 6-3-1/2, 344-pound road grader from Milledgeville (GA) Baldwin County made it official this morning when he announced his commitment to the University of Florida at a school assembly. Hurt decided Florida was the place he needs to be after making an official visit to Gainesville over the weekend for the Florida-Tennessee game at The Swamp.

(Maurice Hurt profile)

Hurt told Gator Country of his decision Monday night but asked to embargo the story until he could make the announcement at his school. He was very excited that he'll be wearing orange and blue in the future and he talked about the reasons Florida is the right place for him to play college football and get an education.

"Tomorrow I am going to give my verbal commitment to the University of Florida," he said late Monday night. "It is just like everybody at home. It just feels like it is the place to be.

"It's just the atmosphere itself …The Swamp … Gainesville a great college town. It's not too big, not too small … a perfect college town. The facilities are some of the best. The coaches and what they have done speak for themselves. It's good to see the things that they are doing."

Playing time proved to be a major factor in the decision. Florida loses five senior offensive linemen to graduation after the 2005 season. With his size and footwork, Hurt is the prototypical guard for the Urban Meyer offense.

"They are losing a lot of guys at my position," he said. "Me being an early entry, it just seems like the best place for me to come in and do well and learn the system. I think it is great I get along with all the players and coaches I met."

Hurt absorbed everything at The Swamp Saturday night. He was taken in by the size of the crowd and its constant raising of the decibel levels. It was an electric atmosphere that certainly proved appealing to an 18-year-old from a county with an official population (45,207) that is less than half of Saturday night's official attendance (90,716).

"The game was a wild experience … in The Swamp with 90,000 people … the loudest place in America," he said. "I was in shock and awe about it all. The atmosphere in the locker room was great, them singing the alma mater and all."

The atmosphere wasn't the only thing that impressed Hurt. He watched the Florida defense dominate a big-time game and he knows the guys on the other side of the line can only make him a better player.

"Those guys are special," he said about the Florida defensive line. "Going against those guys that played Saturday night is going to be really tough. That defense stepped up and took over. The offense did well, didn't turn the ball over, but the defense stepped up. It is good to have guys like that on my team."

He knows that the defensive line returns almost intact next year and he can't wait to be teammates with them. He is has high expectations for himself and he believes that Florida's offensive line coach, John Hevesy, is just the coach to turn his enormous potential into tangible results.

"I think it will be great," he said. "I think I will do well in the system once I work hard and do right. Coach Hevesy is great. He is down to earth. He tells you the truth. He doesn't come and tell you that you will start like a lot of coaches do. He says you will come in and compete to play and start. That's all I want. I know he will give me a fair chance like anyone else."

He also has a profound respect for the Gators head coach. Urban Meyer has been all over the news since his arrival in Gainesville and Hurt likes what the head Gator is all about.

"Coach Meyer is a great coach," he said. "He is a cool guy and a people person. A lot of the coaches you talk to are not like Coach Meyer. They aren't as concerned like Coach Meyer about the person and education and making sure I go to class. I want to get a degree in criminology. They make sure you go to class on time and all of that. His success speaks for itself from Utah especially going to the league. Just look at Alex Smith."

Hurt has been playing both sides of the ball for a Baldwin County team that is 2-2 through four games. He plays guard on offense and tackle on defense because he just wants to "stay on the field."

Hurt made some unofficial visits during the summer and he camped at LSU but when he made his official visit to Gainesville, he knew this is the right place for him.

"I have been to be a couple of other schools and I am just ready to come to Florida," he said.

Hurt has a 3.4 GPA and he already has a qualifying score on the SAT.

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