One of the quiet stories of last weekend in Florida recruiting was American Heritage tight end Nick Eubanks not making his planned official visit, reportedly because of illness. While some spin on Eubanks suggested he would still visit Florida this week or weekend, he may have changed those plans — because visiting and then committing to Michigan with less than a week to go to National Signing Day is a pretty good indication that he's headed elsewhere.
Eubanks, a 247Sports Composite three-star prospect ranked No. 15 among tight ends in the 2016 class, was Florida's primary and seemingly only realistic option at tight end in the 2016 class, with a pursuit of LSU commit and Louisiana native Jamal Pettigrew apparently not bearing any fruit.
Eubanks's reasoning for choosing Michigan over Florida, in quotes to Steve Lorenz, who covers Michigan for 247Sports, doesn't make a whole lot of sense on its face, however.
"I chose Michigan because it's a better fit for me," Eubanks said. "I can play right away as a true freshman. It's best for my future and for my work ethic. Plus coach Harbaugh coached Vernon Davis so I know he knows how to use the tight end. Michigan showed me stuff I've never seen before. Not at Florida or at Alabama. How they throw the ball to their tight end. How they flex the tight end out and use the position as a hybrid. No other school I was considering does that. That shocked me and shook my mind."
Florida flexed out tight ends Jake McGee and C'yontai Lewis often in 2015, though more before losing Will Grier to suspension and bringing in extra blockers to protect Treon Harris and a slower-developing passing game. Alabama tight end O.J. Howard had five catches for 208 yards and a touchdown against Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
While Michigan used Jake Butt creatively in its own right in 2015, that it "shocked" Eubanks to hear of creative tight end usage only then strains credulity; simply citing Michigan making Butt a first-team All-American by targeting him often would have seemed more logical.
The fallout of missing on Eubanks might not be limited to him alone, either. While Florida has long been considered a leader for fellow American Heritage prospect Brian Burns, the five-star defensive end has also been quite friendly with Florida State of late. And without Eubanks as a potential tie to Florida, that cordiality could turn into a commitment to the 'Noles for Burns.