by Jeff Barlis
Depending on which scouting network you fancy, there are anywhere from eight to 49 of these players in the nation right now.
They’re five-star prospects, rising seniors who have coaches begging for verbal commitments in their team’s 2012 classes.
Why, even the mere mention of FIVE-STARS has many of you giddy and surely has drawn thousands of clicks to this blog already.
All for a handful of supposedly elite athletes, the best of the best.
Maybe you don’t trust these scouting websites — Rivals, Scout, ESPN and 247Sports. Maybe you prefer to listen to the chorus of college coaches (including your own Will Muschamp) that says there is no reliable rating system.
But it’s all you’ve got. And maybe it’s just a conversation-starter, a way to guide recruitniks to go find YouTube videos and see for themselves.
Whatever the case, last week’s commitment of consensus five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries has brought joy to the Gator Nation.
It is a fanbase hungry for more.
And so, as your correspondent, I will feed the monster and break down which five-star prospects could join Humphries in Florida’s Class of 2012. This list is in an approximate order of players’ ratings across a composite of all four sites. It is NOT in order of most likely to commit (you’ll have to read each note for those opinions).
Ladies and gentlemen, start your salivary glands …
1. WR Dorial Green-Beckham (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) Springfield, Mo. — Who wouldn’t fall all over themselves to land the next size/speed freak of a receiver? It’s a position where Florida could use some star power. The latest word is this consensus top 3 player in the country will soon narrow down his top schools. However, I don’t expect Florida to make that list, as DGB has his attention closer to home in the southern midwest region.
2. DT Eddie Goldman (6-4, 310) Washington, D.C. — The Gators are still looking for one more interior lineman with enough bulk to tussle with the behemoth offensive linemen that have become commonplace in the SEC. Goldman is thought to have star potential and visited UF on a whirlwind tour of schools in the spring. Florida made his initial cut to 15 teams. The question now: Will the Gators earn one of Goldman’s five official visits this fall?
3. WR Stefon Diggs (6-0, 185) Olney, Md. — The “other” consensus five-star receiver in this year’s crop is a breath-taking athlete with tremendous speed, body control and hands. He threw his recruitment on its ear when he showed up and showed out in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights on July 22. The good vibes were flowing between Diggs and the UF coaches, which has led some observers to point to Florida as Diggs’ leader. Again, the need for star power at the receiver position is obvious with one glance at the Gator roster. Diggs plans to return with his mom after his season for an official visit on the UF-FSU weekend.
4. OT Andrus Peat (6-7, 290) Tempe, Ariz. — This rangy left tackle is long and athletic, basically looking like a prototype, and has won praise for his technique and disposition. Florida made his most recent cut-down to 13 teams, but getting Peat to Gainesville has been problematic so far. He said he wanted to visit in July but didn’t make it. Instead, he has raved about visits to Texas and Florida State.
5. DE/LB Noah Spence (6-3, 245) Harrisburg, Pa. — A gifted athlete, Spence is known as a disruptive pass-rushing specialist. Some scouts differ on his rating, perhaps giving pause to the level of competition he faces in south central Pennsylvania. Spence recently narrowed his list to seven teams, including Florida. The feeling appears to be mutual, as the Gator coaches sent a written offer earlier this month, as soon as the rules allowed.
6. DE Darius Hamilton (6-4, 245) Ramsey, N.J. — The son of former New York Giant Keith Hamilton goes to the same high school as former Gator Justin Trattou, a connection Darius says made him fall in love with Florida. However, the New Jersey native has said nearby Rutgers leads for his commitment. He has teammates there and a close relationship with the coaches. Still, he expects to visit Florida, Cal and possibly Tennessee and Oregon this fall.
7. OT Kyle Murphy (6-7, 268) San Clemente, Calif. — Murphy is another who looks the part of an elite offensive tackle prospect. His projectable frame and touted footwork make the Californian a coveted commodity. While he has flirted with just about every school in the Pac-12, he insists he is open to leaving the region. Florida appears to be quite a sleeper in Murphy’s recruitment, as he has talked up his connection with offensive line coach Frank Verducci and head coach Will Muschamp. Look for UF to be Murphy’s only official visit to the South this fall.
8. WR Nelson Agholor (6-2, 180) Tampa, Fla. — Agholor is a remarkable athlete who can play multiple positions, but the Gators are recruiting him as a wide receiver. Still a bit raw, Agholor shows excellent speed, hands and instincts with the ball. He is close to narrowing his list to a top eight, and it would be surprising if Florida was not on it. It’s hard to know what Agholor is thinking, because he doesn’t believe in making his recruitment public. But his coach says Agholor’s interest in Florida is high, and he has already been on campus twice this year. If distance is a factor, Florida could be in great shape, as many of Agholor’s favorite schools (such as Texas and Southern Cal) are a lot farther away. Another factor for Agholor could be his close friendship with UF safety commit Marcus Maye, who has echoed the sentiment that Agholor is seriously considering the Gators.
These are the rest of the players with at least one five-star rating and significant interest in Florida.
◙ OT Avery Young (6-6, 280) Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. — visited Florida for the spring game and is thought by several observers to be leaning toward the Gators.
◙ DE/LB Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 240) Hamilton, Ga. — visited Florida in the spring and again for FNL and is seemingly down to UF and Alabama.
◙ DE Jonathan Bullard (6-4, 255) Shelby, N.C. — teammate and close friend of UF safety commit Rhaheim Ledbetter, with whom he will visit Gainesville later this month with their parents.
◙ DT Ellis McCarthy (6-4, 310) Monrovia, Calif. — another Californian who has continued to include Florida among his top teams for months.
KEEP AN EYE ON
Finally, here are two players who are rating just outside of the glorious land of five-stars. With a good season, they stand a chance to be bumped up in the ratings.
◙ DT Carlos Watkins (6-4, 275) Forest City, N.C. — also a close friend of Bullard and Ledbetter, and also planning to join them in a visit to UF later this month with their parents.
◙ CB Tracy Howard (6-0, 175) Miramar, Fla. — some think the Gators are simply waiting on Howard to decide whether or not they will take another cornerback in this class. Considered a UF lean until earlier this summer, Howard is regarded as a top-notch cover corner.