LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A group of the country’s best high school football players will be on hand this week as they prepare for the fourth-annual Under Armour All-America Game.
Players will showcase their skills at the ESPN Wide World of Sports before Wednesday’s all-star game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The prospects have been split into two teams — Click-Clack (Red) and Micro G (White). Legendary NFL head coach Mike Ditka will coach the Micro G and will be assisted by former NFL wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. Click-Clack will be headed by former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, who will use Deion Sanders as his assistant coach.
There will be no shortage of targets in Florida’s 2011 recruiting class competing this week. Four of Florida’s verbal commits will be working with a handful of recruits on Florida’s board.
Here’s a look at Florida’s pledges and some of the players on UF’s radar who will be in Lake Buena Vista.
QB Jeff Driskel (Oviedo Hagerty) — Driskel is very solid in his commitment to Florida and will be enrolling in January. He’s rated as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, has a cannon for an arm and great mobility. Even with Florida moving to a more pro-style offense with the arrival of new coach Will Muschamp, Driskel should easily adjust once he gets on campus. His job is to bond with his future teammates and put on some extra charm for Florida’s other targets in town. Expect him to be a socializing machine.
WR Ja’Juan Story (Brooksville Nature Coast) — Story was as solid to the Gators as they come for most of the year. That all changed with Urban Meyer decided to resign at the end of the year. Story then took an official visit to Oregon and will visit Ohio State after the Under Armour Game. He’s still committed to the Gators, but he’s certainly keeping his options open at this point. It helps Florida that Driskel is on his team and will be with him most of the time here.
TE A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville University Christian) — Leonard, Driskel and Story are all on the same team. That’s a sounds like a great thing for Florida’s future as far as chemistry goes. Leonard is solid in his commitment and will enroll at Florida early. He’ll be in the ear of some of the Florida’s remaining targets as well.
CB De’Ante “Pop” Saunders (DeLand) — He’s the only Gator commit not on the Red team. Being on the White team, he’ll be surrounded by Florida State commits, including best friend and DeLand teammate Trey Pettis. The two are also rooming together, so expect Pettis to be in Saunders’ ear. Luckily for Florida, Saunders is an early enrollee, so it would be tough for him to make any sort of switch this late. There are also a few guys on his team that Saunders could work toward Florida’s side.
S Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix (Orlando Dr. Phillips) Alabama commit — He’s the hot, new target on Florida’s board. He’s the nation’s best safety and he recently put Florida back into the picture after speaking with Muschamp. Florida needs safeties and who better to get than the top one in the country who lives close to campus? He’s as athletic as they come at the position and would be in line to see immediate playing time at Florida. He’s also on the Red team, which means the Gator trio will be attempting to bond with him this week.
LB Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, N.C., Anson) — It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before Anthony committed to Florida, but a couple of other schools started to gain major ground on the Gators. Virgina Tech, Clemson and North Carolina are teams to look out for here. Florida is still in the mix and will get an official visit right after Wednesday’s game.
DE Anthony Chickillo (Tampa Alonso) Miami commit — He’s a Miami legacy, but he’s definitely going to check out his options now that Randy Shannon is out in Coral Gables. Florida has really picked up its recruitment of of Chickillo after Shannon’s firing, but Chickillo then lost his top two recruiters from Florida in Meyer and former defensive line coach Dan McCarney, which hurt Florida’s chances. Chickillo has spoken to Muschamp and is expected to officially visit Florida this month. Good thing for Florida he’s on the Red team.
S Malcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Ga.) — Florida needs safeties and Mitchell is a guy who was interested in the Gators for a while. He told Rivals.com that he’s down to Alabama and Georgia and could decide soon. Florida could creep back in if Muschamp can make a good impression, but the loss of Meyer and a couple of assistants have hurt Florida’s chances with Mitchell.
DB Jabari Gorman (Miami Monsignor Pace) — He could play cornerback or safety at the next level and Florida would likely take him as either, but bringing him in as a safety would be a major plus. Miami and Ohio State are in his final three along with the Gators, and he’ll make his final decision during the game Wednesday. He has officially visited Florida and got to speak with Muschamp. But Gorman has yet to really talk with Miami’s new coach Al Golden.
S Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif., Serra) — He’s officially visited Florida and has always been interested in the Gators. It still seems like he’ll follow teammate George Farmer, who committed to USC, but could surprise people by going elsewhere. Florida might be a little too far out of the way for him.
OL Marcus Jackson (Vero Beach) — He was once committed to Miami, and then opened things up. He recently said Michigan State and Tennessee have joined Miami at the top. Florida showed interested over the summer, but that seemed to fade this fall. Florida needs at least one more offensive guard, but Jackson might not be an option anymore.
TE Jay Rome (Valdosta, Ga.) — With Leonard committed, it could be tough to pull another tight end, especially one of Rome’s caliber. However, Florida is very inexperienced at tight end and could use another body there. He doesn’t have an official visit set up with Florida, but expect Saunders to be in his ear the entire week.
ATH Quan Bray (Lagrange, Ga., Troup) — Bray has been interested in Florida the entire time. The loss of Meyer hasn’t really changed that. He could play running back in college, and Florida might want to add another back to this class for depth reasons.
LB A.J. Johnson (Gainesville, Ga.) Tennessee commit — Before Meyer resigned, Johnson was a guy seriously considering Florida. Over the summer, Florida was his leader, but when the staff told him it was interested in bringing him in as a defensive end, he committed to Tennessee. Florida’s staff still pursued him as an end and he kept listening. He’s on the White team, but that shouldn’t stop him from getting to hang with the Gator commits.