DeLand OT Benjamin Knox didn't waste much time with the recruiting process, committing to the University of Florida on Saturday following his first unofficial visit at Florida junior day.
Knox, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound junior, received his first official offer Friday from Utah. Upon visiting Gainesville, he was extended his second offer from head coach Will Muschamp and he promptly committed.
He is the fourth commitment to the Gators' 2014 recruiting class after news Saturday that Palm Bay Bayside defensive tackle Travonte Valentine had dropped his commitment to the Gators. Valentine committed to UF in July.
Knox's coach, new DeLand head coach James Thomson, confirmed the news early Saturday afternoon and the Sentinel caught up with Knox later via cell phone. He said he committed with no hesitation.
"Coach [Muschamp] said he wanted to offer me and asked me if I wanted to commit and I said, " Yes sir,' " Knox said. "I told him that's the place where I want to be."
Knox, who grew up a Gator fan, then called his mother to tell her the news.
"Yeah, Coach [Muschamp] asked me if I wanted to call my mom, so I did. She was happy and she asked me if that was where I was going to stay and I said, 'Yes, that's where I want to stay.' " said Knox, who said he knows it will be difficult to hold true to a commitment when 2014 National Signing Day is almost a year away. Next year's signing day is Feb. 5.
"I know it will be hard because other schools are going to come at me, but I’m going to try," said Knox, whose initial NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision interest came from the Gators. UF first reached out with assistant coach Brian White making contact earlier this month.
"It's very important because that was the first school that came to me ... my first Division 1 school. It was them and then Louisville and then Iowa," Knox said.
Louisville and Iowa have yet to offer, but he did get the Utah offer on Friday. He's become somewhat of an overnight sensation and his phone was lighting up after Saturday's news.
"There was all kinds of stuff coming at me .. newspapers and all," Knox said. "It's all kinda new for me."
New indeed. The big, athletic Knox has only played varsity football at DeLand for one season, yet UF coaches were impressed enough with what they saw in person and on film to bring him aboard early.
"They said they really liked my frame and my athleticism," Knox said.
Watching him on film you'd thing he was a seasoned veteran the way he moves around the line, regardless of what scheme within which he is blocking.
"My position coaches helped me better my game," said Knox, who also has plenty of obvious natural talent.
Knox, who is ranked No. 25 in the most recent 2014 Sentinel Central Florida Super 60, was instrumental this past season as one of DeLand's lead blockers for Class 8A All-State running back JoJo Kemp, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. Kemp, a senior, signed with Kentucky last week.
Interestingly, Knox considers his strength to be pass blocking, though the Bulldogs have rarely thrown the ball during his time at DeLand.
"Yeah, I know we do run the ball a lot and I can run block, but I think I'm a better pass blocker," he said. "I'm a good pass blocker because my arms are really long."
Knox joins three others in the Florida Gators' 2014 recruiting class. Also committed are North Carolina QB Will Grier, Fort Meyers Dunbar WR Ryeshene Bronson, and Cross City Dixie County CB Duke Dawson, who is the cousin of 2013 signee Marcell Harris of Orlando Dr. Phillips.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Twitter at @Os_Recruiting and Facebook at Orlando Sentinel Recruiting and now on Pinterest at Orlando Recruiting.