Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast WR Tookes Commits to UF

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

First Coast WR Tookes Commits to UF

Article excerpt

Byline: Chase Goodbread, Times-Union sports writer

For the third year in a row, a Jacksonville wide receiver has received his last scholarship offer from Florida, and pledged to the Gators.

First Coast High receiver Kenneth Tookes, who has reeled in 50-plus passes in two consecutive seasons for the Northside public school, committed last week on an mid-season offer from UF assistant coach Jimmy Ray Stephens. Tookes had received previous offers from Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Auburn, North Carolina State, and West Virginia, but when Florida extended its offer, the decision wasn't hard.

"I've always wanted to go there," said Tookes, who visits UF officially Jan. 8. "I grew up a Florida fan."

Tookes can only hope to have the college success of his Jacksonville predecessors. In 1999, Jabar Gaffney had nearly settled on signing with Wake Forest when UF coach Steve Spurrier made a late-January offer.

How did that work out?

Gaffney's already a two-time All-American with two years of eligibility to go. Last year, it was Forrest's O.J. Small who made a commitment to Syracuse, but changed his mind when the Gators offered late. Small redshirted in 2000, not surprising given that his Forrest background was at quarterback, and he caught only one pass this season, a 24-yarder against Louisiana-Monroe. Still, the UF coaching staff is said to be high on Small's potential, and with the possible departures of Gaffney and Reche Caldwell to the NFL, potential could soon meet playing time.

"I don't think Gaffney will go pro," said Tookes, who has known the UF star for four years. "If he does, it will be a better chance to play for myself, but if he stays, it can still be a positive for me to learn from him."

The 6-2, 185-pound Tookes was more heavily recruited than Gaffney or Small, and accordingly wanted his recruitment ended as quickly as possible.

"There were some schools that started playing games with me, moving visits back and forward, and it just got to be a headache," Tookes said. …

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