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Offensive lineman Kavaris Harkless played at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville.

Tuesday February 11, 2014Harkless Content with Last-Minute Change of Plans

Gainesville, Fla.

Offensive lineman Kavaris Harkless played at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kavaris Harkless will always have a good story to tell regardless of how his football career plays out.

A 6-foot-5, 275-pound offensive lineman from Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Harkless is one of Florida’s nine early enrollees.

In early January Harkless was all set to enroll for his first semester of college – at Louisville.

He arrived in Louisville the weekend news broke that Cardinals coach Charlie Strong was taking the Texas job. However, Harkless was exhausted and fell asleep the night rumors turned to fact, and he missed several phone calls regarding Strong’s exit.

Kavaris Harkless

When he awoke, he faced the biggest decision of his life: to stay or go?

He opted to leave and sign with the Gators, who had pursued him heavily as well.

Still, after making the decision, Harkless had to act fast and get out of Louisville before a winter storm swept through the area. Eventually, he found a flight back to Florida that beat the storm – he got stranded in North Carolina for a few hours -- and arrived at UF a couple of days later to cap a frantic stretch.

“It was crazy,’’ Harkless said. “I’m just glad everything worked out.”

Harkless is among a group of six offensive linemen the Gators added in this year’s recruiting class. Harkless is one of three in school this semester, joining junior-college transfer Drew Sarvary and freshman Nolan Kelleher.

When Harkless made the decision to come to Florida, Gators coach Will Muschamp was in the process of hiring a new offensive line coach. He added veteran Mike Summers, who spent last year at USC and is well-respected among his peers.

Summers views Harkless as a talented prospect with a lot of upside.

“I’m real excited about what he brings to us,’’ Summers said on National Signing Day. “He’s got some development to go in terms of putting on weight and adding strength to what he brings in. But he’s a really good athlete and I think he will develop into a really good tackle for us. He’s got good feet and good quickness.”

In his first month in the program Harkless has focused on improving his weaknesses to get ready for spring practice, which starts next month.

“I’m working on my lower and upper body strength so I can have the right movement and the right strength to compete with everybody else,’’ he said. “I did get really big into weights after my junior season.”

Harkless played offensive tackle in high school and appears more suited for that role in college with those quick feet that caught Summers’ eye on film. He was high school teammates with Gators defensive back Nick Washington, who played on special teams as a freshman before suffering a shoulder injury.

While his decision to come to Florida came at the last minute, Harkless is content.

He and Muschamp developed a good rapport on the recruiting trail so when Harkless showed up at UF only days after expecting to attend Louisville, there were no surprises.

“He was being honest,” Harkless said. “He told me what happened with the players that transferred out. He told me the situation I was going to be put in. He told me I was going to have to work hard.”

Harkless is now ready for the next chapter in his story.


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