We all thought LSU weekend was going to be the mega recruiting weekend for Florida, until the stakes were raised. Florida enters South Carolina weekend with the goal of getting to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Saturday’s winner heads down glory road, while the loser slips down into a mediocre bowl game.

Florida will have a slew of top recruits in Gainesville this weekend for what is expected to be quite the exciting Saturday night game. It’s all about the quality of recruits headed in for the Gators this weekend. Sunday might not be filled with any new commitments for the Gators, but this weekend will go a long way toward building the 2011 class.

Here’s a look at some of the big names expected in town:

QB Jeff Driskell (Oviedo Hagerty)
RB Mike Blakely (Bradenton Manatee)
FB Hunter Joyer (Tampa Catholic)
WR Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville Nature Coast)
WR Javares McRoy (Lakeland)
WR Latroy Pittman (Citra Marion County) 2012
TE AC Leonard (Jacksonville University Christian)
OL Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, Conn.)
CB Nick Waisome (Groveland South Lake)
CB De’Ante “Pop” Saunders (DeLand)
CB Loucheiz Purifoy (Pensacola Pine Forest)
S Chris Johnson (Ocala Trinity Catholic)
ATH Clay Burton (Venice)
ATH Omari Phillips (Venice) 2012

This is huge for Florida to basically get its entire class into The Swamp Saturday. Expect Driskel and Blakely to do the most recruiting for the Gators. They are the biggest commitments Florida has and what they say will go a long way for uncommitted recruits.

Two guys who were expected to visit were Plantation linebacker Ryan Shazier and Dover, Del., offensive lineman Trip Thurman. Shazier said Friday that he’s having ride issues and likely won’t make it for Saturday’s game. Thurman confirmed Friday that he won’t be able to make it either, but he is officially visiting on Dec. 11. Shazier will probably official visit then, too.

Recruits of Interest:
WR George Farmer (Gardena, Calif., Serra) — From everything I’ve been told, it would a total shocker if he didn’t end up at USC. He’s always listed Florida as one of his top schools, and I beleive he’s the best player in the country. He’s tall and has great speed. The Gators are a long shot, but Urban Meyer has a knack for closing on surprises late. I still give USC the major edge here.

WR Sammy Watkins (South Ft. Myers) — Though he’s the half brother of current Gator freshman Jaylen Watkins, he doesn’t list Florida as one of his top schools. Michigan, Clemson and Miami are the schools he’s favoring right now. He’s perfect for Florida’s offense and if he’s impressed with what he sees and what Florida’s coaches tell him, the Gators might creep back into the discussion here.

WR Chris Black (Jacksonville First Coast) 2012 — He’s been to The Swamp a few times this year and Florida is defintely one of his top schools. He will probably be the top receiver prospect in the state next year.

TE Junior Pomee (Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde) — He was once committed to UCLA, but decommitted after receiving an offer from Florida after Friday Night Lights. All indications are that Florida is his top school and many think this could be the weekend he commits. Former teammate Ronald Powell will no doubt be in Pomee’s ear this weekend during his official visit. However, this one still isn’t a done deal for Florida.

OL Jordan Prestwood (Plant City) — He committed to Notre Dame and then backed off earlier this year. Of course that means Florida became a school of interest for him (like every other Notre Dame decommitment). It looks like he’s down to Florida State and Florida, and word is that he had a great time in Tallahassee last week. The good news for the Gators is that he didn’t commit, but he’s definitely leaning toward FSU right now. This is an official visit for him.

DE Aaron Lynch (Cape Coral Island Coast) — Like Prestwood, Lynch was committed to Notre Dame. And just like Prestwood, he’s down to FSU and Florida. Word is that both would love to play together in college and probably will. He grew up an FSU fan, and after his visit last week he’s leaning that way as well. But Meyer has been really chatting it up with Lynch’s mom and that’s a good sign for the Gators. FSU has the advantage, but his official this weekend could change that. He’ll announce within the next couple of weeks.

LB A.J. Johnson (Gainesville, Ga.) Tennessee commit — From the start, I liked Florida’s chances with Johnson and he came away from Friday Night Lights with Florida as his favorite. He first committed to Tennesee, then decommitted after Lane Kiffin left. Johnson then recommitted to the Vols this fall, but still visited Florida the same weekend. This is his second trip to The Swamp for a game this year. I still like Florida’s chances in the end, but he’s being recruited as a defensive end. Johnson wants to play linebacker in college. This one isn’t over.

ATH Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif., Serra) — Farmer’s teammate is coming in for an official visit as well. This is big for Florida because Lee projects to play safety in college, and with the dismissal of Jonathan Dowling, Lee is starting to get even more interest from Florida’s coaches. He’ll be one of Florida’s top priorities this weekend, but Oregon and USC are the teams at the top right now.

ATH Teddy Bridgewater (Miami Northwestern) Miami commit — Bridgewater’s visit is a very interesting one. He favored the Gators early, but the staff wants him as a receiver, not a quarterback. If he’s on board for playing receiver, Florida has a chance here, but I think his heart is at quarterback. We’ll see what happens.

The biggest disappointment for Florida’s coaches will be the absence of Ft. Lauderdale Dillard safety Wayne Lyons. He was supposed to ride with Shazier, but since neither could find a ride, he won’t make it to Gainesville. Florida is still one of his top schools and he’s expected to get on campus at some point this year. He said last month that he doesn’t intend to officially visit any Florida schools but will take unofficials.