Lots of a good questions this week. Tons of info to get into and my thoughts on some of the best prospects still available to the Gators.
On to the questions.
Please break down what you consider to be the most important position of need remaining for this year’s signing class, and which available players may be best suited, and most likely, to fill that need. Thank you.
There are a couple directions I could go here. I could talk about receiver, but I’m going to give the 2010 group the benefit of the doubt for right now. None of those guys have really had a chance to truly contribute and I think they’ll get their shot, so getting a handful of receivers isn’t really a major need this year. I think the offensive line class is OK, but could stand to gain at least another big body in there. However, I like the class Florida brought in 2009 and I think depth will be fine.
I’m going to go with linebacker because Florida has only one verbal commitment at the position and will lose three seniors after the season. There is pretty good depth, but besides Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, the young guys are pretty inexperienced. Florida currently has Ryan Shazier in this class at linebacker and Clay Burton could play linebacker in college, but will get looks at tight end and defensive end.
Florida is going after Wadesboro, N.C., Anson’s Stephone Anthony and has been in the lead for most of the recruiting process. I don’t see anything changing with this one. I also like Florida’s chances with Richmond, Va., Hermitage’s Curtis Grant, who named Florida as one of his top schools over the summer and will offcially visit after the season. Florida is also in the running for Danville, Kent., Boyle County’s Lamar Dawson, but Kentucky is going to be a tough team to beat.
Edward, keep up the good work dude! I see it like this: We have the QB of the future (Driskel), the 2 RBs of the future (M. Brown & Blakely), and hopefully we get 1 or 2 WRs of the future (Benjamin, Watkins, Farmer). Where are the OL, FB and Slot WR of the future coming from? Cheers!
They are already in this class. Florida did a good job of snagging three decent offensive linemen — Trip Thurman, Chase Hounshell and Tommy Jordan. Now, each one of them could use some work on the field because watching tape they all seem pretty raw. That’s the same thing I hear when I talk to people who have seen each live. That’s not to say they aren’t talented guys, though. And offensive linemen always need at least a year of development in college. Florida is aiming at getting at least another offensive lineman and Plant City JordanPrestwood is showing a lot of interest since he decommitted from Notre Dame. Also, Vero Beach’s Marcus Jackson is a guy to keep an eye on. Even though he’s committed to Miami, he’s still expressed interest in the Gators.
Fullback has been taken care of by Tampa Catholic’s Hunter Joyer. Joyer is the perfect guy for Florida’s offense. He’s a beast on the field and would be the first real fullback Florida has had since Billy Latsko . He blocks with the best of them, carries the ball and can catch the ball out of the backfield. It’s not every day Urban Meyer recruits a fullback, but Joyer has all the tools Meyer likes in his football players. I expect to see him on the field early for the Gators.
There are a few slot receivers already on Florida’s roster, but in this class Lakeland’s Javares McRoy looks suited to be the best option in the slot. He’s not the biggest guy at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, but he’s got great speed. He really impressed me at Friday Night Lights and when he hasn’t been injured this season, he’s been a monster for the Dreadnaughts . When he’ll get his shot in college? I’m not too sure. He’ll have to wait his turn with all those 2010 guys in front of him right now.
The Blakely get was big, and makes me feel infinitely better about this class. There are about 8-10 spots left, and obviously we want them to all be studs. That won’t happen, but these are the guys that are both rated as 5-stars (by scout) and have Florida on their radar. Who would you say we have the best shot of landing in order? Thanks Ed.
Because you provided the list, I’ll just answer them where you listed them below.
Stephone Anthony (LB/Wadesboro, N.C., Anson) — I have really liked Florida’s chances from the start with Anthony. He’s always been a Gator fan and has had Florida at the top of his list since the very beginning. I don’t see anything happening to change that.
Nick O’Leary (TE/West Palm Beach Dwyer) — I don’t see the Gators getting involved with O’Leary. He was never really that high on Florida from the start and after talk to him, he wasn’t very interested in what Florida had to offer offensively. Don’t look for Florida to get in the picture here. I like Florida State’s chances a lot.
Savon Huggins (RB/Jersey City, N.J., St. Peter’s Prep) — Now that Florida has secured running back Mike Blakely, I think this one is leaning more toward being over for Florida. Rutgers seemed to be leading for Huggins before Blakely committed and now I just see that lead intensifying.
Viliami Moala (DT/Sacramento, Calif., Grant) — Florida would like to get a big body in on that defensive line, but Moala doesn’t have an offer from Florida. Florida has its sights on a few other defensive tackles, but Moala has expressed some interest in Florida and the staff has expressed some in him. My thoughts are that he’ll stay closer to home, though.
Sammy Watkins (WR/South Fort Myers) — I really liked Florida’s chances in the beginning, especially with his half brother, Sammy Watkins, being on campus. But things have shifted away from Florida since the fall. His favorites remain Clemson, Michigan and Miami. I think Clemson has the advantage in this one. Watkins has been to Florida, but at this point, Florida is very much on the outside for the state’s best receiver.
Jay Rome (TE/Valdosta, Ga.) — Alabama and Clemson still seem to have the lead in this one. Florida has made strides, but I don’t really like Florida’s chances here. There is no use of the tight end in Florida’s offense and the Gators have secured A.C. Leonard at the position.
Tony Steward (LB/St. Augustine Pedro Menendez) — Florida was a school he visited more than others during the spring and summer and it looked like Florida had a pretty good shot at him. However, he grew up a Florida State fan and Clemson surprised many by becoming one of his top schools. This one appears down to Clemson andFSU and I’d be shocked if he didn’t end up in Tallahassee next year.
Isiah Crowell (RB/Columbus, Ga., Carver) — Crowell might have mentioned the Gators early at one point, but Florida wasn’t really in the picture here. Plus, Florida has its running back for this class.
Tim Jernigan (DT/Lake City Columbia) — The big fish. The guy all Gator fans want. Well, the lock commitment that everyone expected looks to be fading. Two weeks ago he said Florida was no longer one of his favorites and last week he reiterated that the Gators still aren’t in his top four. Michigan, FSU, LSU and Alabama are all ahead of Florida. His work ethic has been questioned time and again, so the staff could be pushing away as well. He is also concerned with where Florida is as a program. For now, the chances of him ending up at Florida seem to be slipping away more and more. This could all change if Florida turns around its season, so this one is not over.
I am wondering why with 85+ players on scholarship that the Gators don’t actively pursue some real big, power backs in the Jerome Bettis, Mike Alstott mode. Tim Tebow , Cam Newton were/are 230 pounds smash backs when they run the ball as tailbacks. With defenses “spread” out from Florida’s offensive plays that might make the up the gut dives really work well. It worked for Tebow and is working for Newton.
Do you think UF will ever really actively go after a Mike Alstott, Jerome Bettis type of smash-mouth type of back, maybe just one? Seems that it would be a great addition/option for Florida’s offense.
Meyer has always wanted one of those big backs, but the way the offense is run, bigger backs just haven’t shown that much interest in Florida. The Gators don’t consistently use guys for 20-plus carries during games, Meyer has never had a 1,000-yard rusher and his offense just hasn’t suited bigger backs. The Emmanuel Moody experiment failed and Mack Brown hasn’t seen the field. Mike Gillislee could be the guy that can take that many carries each night, but he hasn’t been healthy enough to do that.
Blakely isn’t a big back, but he plays hard and could be someone that’s used in the slot and the backfield, kind of like Percy Harvin and Chris Rainey. Florida hasn’t needed a big back because Tim Tebow was there, but now that he’s gone, Florida has to start using the bigger backs it has now if the staff ever hopes to get one of those elite every-down backs in the future.
Enjoy your blog. I am curious to know if you are aware of the extent to which the coaches are using the success of the first-year Gators in the NFL as a recruiting tool?
Of course. Just the way that Percy Harvin (just killing it on my fantasy football team), Louis Murphy, Riley Cooper and David Nelson are playing helps and that’s just the start. Look at Jermaine Cunningham and Brandon Spikes in New England. Both are starting and doing a lot more on the field than many thought they would. And Aaron Hernandez (also on my fantasy team) is one of the top tight ends in the league. Success in the NFL is huge, but just sending guys to the next level is what really impresses recruits. Florida had nine players drafted in 2010, three in the first round. That stat is what recruits look at and what Florida’s coaches press upon prospects.
What players do in the league after they are drafted can have an influence on kids, but not as much. Even though Florida quarterbacks have struggled in the NFL, top quarterbacks are still interested in the Gators and Florida hasn’t had a problem signing elite passers over the years. On the other side, the play of recent Florida receivers in the NFL will only help Florida when recruiting wide outs. I think the NFL has become a huge recruiting tool for Florida.