There was a particular turning point in DJ Lagway’s recruitment. It came when the five-star quarterback from Willis, Texas, was attending Florida’s home game against Kentucky on Sept. 10. He and his father, Derek, were on the field pregame when they started to hear the chants. They grew louder. And louder. And louder.

“Lagway to The Swamp. Lagway to The Swamp. Lagway to The Swamp.”

This was a high school junior on the field at an SEC stadium. By that time in his recruitment, Lagway knew he was going to have an offer from virtually every major college football program in the country. The moment still froze in time. Minutes later, Gators legend Tim Tebow emerged onto the field. The fans stopped their chanting, instead using their energy to direct the former Heisman Trophy winner to work his magic on Lagway.

“I played college football,” said Derek, a running back at Baylor from 1997 through 2001. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

That’s when Lagway knew he wanted to play at Florida. The pure love, the passion, the desire to see Florida be great again. All of it. It was palpable.

“Ever since,” Derek said, “it was all Florida.”

That’s the type of moment that used to encapsulate what recruiting was all about. Perhaps it’s the feeling of being at home on a college campus. Or a relationship with a coach. Or the school’s location. But in 2023? That’s not what it seems to be about anymore in so many high-profile recruitments. This is the NIL era, where cash is king and inducements — that are supposed to be against NCAA rules — can run the show.

That’s why Lagway is the perfect recruit for Florida. He is exactly what Florida needs, and he couldn’t exist at a more perfect time. And money, though it will likely come, wasn’t part of the discussion when he committed to the Gators.

Lagway deserves compensation. If big-time quarterback prospects are supposedly being offered seven figures for their talents, then Lagway — who is ranked No. 24 overall and the No. 4 quarterback in the 2024 class in the 247Sports Composite — would be worthy of a fat check. But he doesn’t want to talk about it. He doesn’t want to think about it. When NIL has been brought up in meetings in the past, he has walked out of the room.