The Florida football team scored a big victory over Clemson Tigers and the rest of the Southern college football powers Saturday.
Wando High standout offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher committed to the Gators, capping a recruiting battle for one of the Palmetto State’s top players.
ESPN and Scout list Kelleher as a four-star recruit. He is the Gators’ 13th commitment and the ninth who is at least a four-star.
Kelleher, a 6-5½, 300-pound senior, was considered to be leaning toward Clemson, but he has opted for Gainesville where he will enroll in January to get a jump on the 2014 football season.
Kelleher also is an excellent student who wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and be an engineer. He noticed on a visit to the campus that an engineering department building is located next to the football stadium.
“I don’t know if that was a sign,” Kelleher said. “But it was icing on the cake. Academics are important to me, and the University of Florida is a great fit.”
Kelleher had more than 30 scholarship offers. He selected the Gators over Clemson, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida State, Georgia Tech and N.C. State, among others.
Kelleher said the recruiting process has become a distraction, and he wanted it to be over before classes begin.
“To say that I’m glad it is over is an understatement,” Kelleher said. “I will sleep good tonight.”
Wando coach Jimmy Noonan said Kelleher deserved his big day.
“He’s worked hard and improved every year,” Noonan said. “He took advantage of an injury to another player his freshman year and became a starter. He never quit working. Nolan and Florida, that’s a good combination academically and athletically.”
Kelleher said he met numerous head coaches who are in the “great” category. But he was most impressed with Florida’s strength and conditioning coaches.
“They are the best in the business,” he said. “I am ready to get stronger.”