There are less than two weeks until national signing day, and five-star defensive end Byron Cowart is closing on his college decision. The No. 1-ranked player in the ESPN 300 had a top three of Auburn, Florida, and Florida State just last week, and now the 6-foot-3, 258-pound defensive end has dwindled his choices to two.
"I would have to say, just to be honest, Auburn and Florida are my top two schools," Cowart said. "I have to keep it professional -- I have to. Who knows, you see coaches and they go into the league, and when it’s time for you to get drafted you don’t want to have a bad name.
"A lot of guys say things that they back away from, and yeah I probably said 'yeah I like this school and I might end up coming here' but that’s probably how I was feeling at the time, but a lot of things happen and I just want people to know that I’m man enough to say 'thank you for recruiting me, but I might not go to your school.' But right now, truly, it will come down to Auburn and Florida. That’s just being honest."
That is somewhat of a surprise considering FSU coaches visited Cowart at his school on Wednesday afternoon and Cowart was scheduled to take his last visit to Florida State next weekend.
"The visit was good. It was different," Cowart said. "I haven’t had the heat put to me like that before. It’s crunch time, so they want me to come up for this last visit, but it’s like I already know what they can bring to the table, I already know what I can I get from Florida State the school. It’s just crazy, I just want to relax and get away, think and get my thoughts together, and that’s why I was like 'I don’t know if I’m going to do my last visit -- I don’t know if I’m going to go anywhere on my last visit.'
"I don’t want to make a mistake. Like my mom said, when you are rushing and you’re moving too fast sometimes you can make a mistake and go somewhere that you never even thought you would go. So I want to be in the right mind and be focused, and to know that this is the school I want to go to."
Cowart’s planned visit to Florida this weekend was also in question, but the talented defensive linemen said he has decided to make the short trip to Gainesville with his mom.
"Yeah, I’ll go to Florida. I’m not one of those guys that will cancel at the last minute if I know I’m not going to go to a school. That’s why I was trying to reach out to Florida State in advance, so I don’t tell them at the last minute and say 'oh I’m not coming.' I was putting it up in the air saying 'oh maybe I might not come, because I don’t know.' I want that last week to myself. With Florida I can’t just say 'oh I’m not coming' because it’s the last minute. I told them I’m coming, and I had all the time to tell them last week if I wasn’t going to come. I’m going to take that visit and take it from there.
With former Florida head coach Will Muschamp now the defensive coordinator at Auburn, many assumed Cowart's primary reason for considering Auburn was because of his relationship with Muschamp. Cowart, however, said that is not true.
"It’s kind of crazy, because everyone says 'don’t got to a school because you have a connection with a coach.' I know a lot of people think I’m interested in Auburn because of Muschamp," Cowart said. "Regardless of what happens, when coaches leave and all that stuff, I still feel good about the program. I want to know, regardless, when I do pick which school I’m going to, in my heart that I'm going to excel at this college, football-wise, athletically, and academically.
"If I go to Auburn and coach Muschamp leaves, then I’m fine. If the new coaching staff at Florida all of a sudden two-three years from now leave, I want to know that I’m fine. Coaches come and go. I don’t want people to think I’m going to a school for a coach. I want people to know, when you are talking to Byron Cowart, no matter how hard it might be, I have to be honest, I have to be truthful. I can’t beat around the bush."