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A Recruiting Moment: Dee Finley Chooses Florida Over Hometown Auburn

A Recruiting Moment takes a look back in time to a moment in recruiting news where both Florida and their opponent of the week – Auburn this time around – were major players.

Earlier this week, Gator Nation was presented with the news that linebacker Dee Finley would transfer from Florida. Finley had seen minimal time of the field in 2011 and obviously believed he didn’t fit into the Gators plans as he would like. In the end, he decided it was best to part ways with the Gators and begin thinking about where he would continue his college career. We remember all the way back to 2007 when he decided where he would begin it.

Yes, 2007. It seems unbelievable, but Finley – then a safety – committed way back on June 17, 2007. Back then, Tim Tebow wasn’t a Heisman Trophy recipient, the Gators football program had only two national titles, and Will Muschamp was preparing for his second season as Auburn’s defensive coordinator. In a "how the world turns" moment of sorts, Finley had the following to say during his recruitment about the man that years later would briefly be his head coach:

"Coach Muschamp said he really likes my size and how physical I am against the run," said Finley. "He said he really likes how I play in the secondary."

His developing relationship with Muschamp, the fact that he was from Auburn, and – oh yeah – when he called them his number one school, were all signs that one day the inevitable would happen and Finley would become a Tiger. Approximately five months after delivering that quote, Finley chose different shades of orange and blue when he gave his verbal commitment to Urban Meyer and the Gators. It was a surprise to many, but not to Finley himself. He joked about those shocked at his decision and was happy with his choice.

Finley’s path to Florida wouldn’t be a straight one. He wouldn’t qualify and would spend a year at Milford Prep. Finley would stay true to his commitment though and become a member of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class. He was still a safety at that point, but would convert to linebacker with hopes of one day making an impact.

You know the rest of the story. Florida would bring in Muschamp, who Finley must have been excited to play for at one time, but minutes would be hard to find. The Gators picked up a great prospect when Finley committed and then eventually enrolled. Unfortunately, they’ll never see him live up to his potential as a member of the program.