Fowler flips from Florida State to Florida

Dante Fowler, right, and his family show off their Gator colors. Courtesy Fowler Family

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., pulled off a signing day surprise when he flipped his commitment from Florida State to in-state rival Florida Wednesday.

Fowler, who is the No. 10-ranked defensive end and No. 71-ranked player in the country in the ESPNU150, decided to switch to the Gators because of the comfort level he had with the Florida coaching staff.

“I just feel more comfortable there,” Fowler said. “Coach [Will] Muschamp is one of the best defensive coaches in football. Coach [Dan] Quinn coached Jason Taylor, one of the best hybrids to play in the NFL. I’m a hybrid as well. I just feel like I can contribute more at Florida and come in early and play.”

Fowler said his decision was not an easy one to make, considering he was a life-long fan of FSU.

“It was real difficult,” he said. “Being committed for a year and growing up a Florida State fan all my life -- I always hated Florida, and I always told myself I would never go to Florida, and now I’m about to be playing for them. It’s kind of crazy.”

Muschamp is recruiting Fowler to play the buck linebacker position. It’s a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot, and Fowler said it played a role in his decision.

“I get to stand up and also put my hand in the dirt,” he said. “Not to sound cocky, but I’m too athletic just to play with my hand in the dirt. I can also play in coverage. I have good footwork. Some people compare me to Demarcus Ware, other people have compared me to Dwight Freeney when I have my hand in the dirt. Overall, Florida is where I just felt more comfortable at.”

In addition to Fowler, Alex McCalister and Bryan Cox Jr. are other Florida commitments who were recruited to play the buck position.

Fowler joins former Penn State quarterback commit Skyler Mornhinweg as players who switched their commitments to the Gators.

ESPN.com recruiting reporter Derek Tyson can be reached by email at DerekTysonESPN@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at DerekTysonESPN.