Today is Valentine's Day, but Edwardsville (Ill.) defensive tackle Vincent Valentine is staying out…
One Big Valentine
Vincent Valentine, the 6-foot-4, 315-pound four-star defensive tackle from Edwardsville, Ill., says he has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Illinois, Michigan, Kansas, Kansas State, Florida, Iowa, Wisconsin and a few others for a total of 11 offers. Valentine denies a favorite, or any real leaders, but says he's being recruited hardest by Wisconsin and Florida. "Wisconsin was my first offer (last spring)," he said. "I went to their junior day last year and I really like the atmosphere there. "It's laid-back, but fun," he said about the Badgers. "It's always packed for games and there's fun things to do on the weekends. It's a college town." Besides Madison, Valentine says he also likes the Badgers' coaches. "The coaches are all great guys," he said. "They think I can play early and said they really want someone like me. "Plus, Wisconsin is always a winning program," he said. While Wisconsin was his first offer, Florida was Valentine's latest. "They win and I love that," he said about the Gators' success. "(Defensive line) coach Bryant Young is very cool and so is (new head) coach Will Muschamp," he said. "I think he'll do great at Florida. They always get great recruits and he's a very good coach." Valentine's former teammate is redshirt sophomore guard for the Gators, David Young. "He's told me a lot of things about Florida and it all sounds very appealing," he said. "He talks about how great the weather is and how awesome it is playing in the SEC. He says the atmosphere is the best. "He really loves playing in the SEC and says it's the best competition you can get," he said about the Gators. "Plus, they always send guys to the league too." So where does Valentine stand on the SEC versus Big Ten debate? "I like the SEC a lot," he said. "It's a great conference and I want to play against the best, but the Big Ten is real good too. I think what is more important is to play good and that the overall the conference isn't that important." Other Big Ten schools that Valentine likes are Illinois and Michigan. "Illinois is only three hours away," he said. "I don't think the distance will be a big factor…it'll be a small thing for me." Valentine hasn't visited Michigan yet, but admits the Wolverines' tradition is very appealing. "That's one of the best traditions in the nation," he said about Michigan. "They have amazing history and prestige." Although he likes the Wolverines' history, Valentine admits he doesn't know a lot about their new head coach Brady Hoke yet. "I haven't looked into him yet," he said. "But from what I've heard, I think he'll do good." Besides the schools that have already offered him, he says that Tennessee, Penn State and Alabama are also recruiting him hard even though they haven't offered yet. "They're coming at me real hard," he said. "They're recruiting me as much as the others right now." Growing up Valentine says he never followed a specific school. "I watched the NFL more than college football," he said. "But my dad was a big Miami fan, so we would watch them play a lot. I guess that's the team I grew up following." Valentine says that his parents aren't pushing a specific school in particular, but have four that stand out. "They like Penn State, Florida, Notre Dame and Ohio State," he said. "They really like the academics, prestige and tradition of those schools." He says he plans on going through the entire recruiting process. "I'll take my five visits before making a decision," he said. "I want to bond with the coaches and players and make sure I can see myself being there for four or five years." Valentine finished his junior season with 35 tackles, two sacks, two fumbles caused and one fumble recovered. "I think I'm smart and can recognize plays," he said. "I have a good bull rush and can shed blockers. I think I play a very aggressive style and am a good run stopper." He says he can bench 305-pounds, squats 415-pounds and has a 29-inch vertical jump. "I want to get faster and stronger and be more agile," he said. Valentine says he's considering majoring in either psychology or sociology. He reports a 2.4 core GPA and is taking the ACT on April 9.
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