At ease, Gator Nation.
You’ll be able breathe again in two weeks.
We’re finally approaching National Signing Day and with only 18 commitments, Florida still has a lot more recruits to add before Feb. 1.
This upcoming weekend has the potential to be UF’s most important of the recruiting season. The Gators are bringing in 10 official visitors and three of them are five-star targets.
Will Muschamp & Co. hit the road this week and made in-home visits with several prospects, including five-star receivers Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs on Monday. Both visits went extremely well from what I’ve been told and UF is still in the driver’s seat for them. The Gators parted ways with Arkansas JUCO commit Courtney Gardner Tuesday, so that tells you how they feel about their WR board. He was scheduled to visit this weekend.
The staff also solidified the commitment of DT Omari Phillips, who was seen by all of the defensive coaches Monday and cancelled his visit to South Florida. By the way, Phillips said he measured in at 6-foot-6, 315 pounds at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The final Rivals100 was released Tuesday and here’s how Florida’s commits and targets fared.
No. 2 D.J. Humphries (UF commit, up one spot)
No. 6 Jonathan Bullard (UF commit, up 13 spots)
No. 8 Stefon Diggs (same spot)
No. 11 Darius Hamilton (fell six spots)
No. 16 Tracy Howard (fell three spots)
No. 18 Nelson Agholor (fell six spots)
No. 19 Josh Harvey-Clemons (fell 12 spots)
No. 28 Dante Fowler Jr. (up seven spots, gained fifth star back)
No. 53 Leonard Williams (up 17 spots)
No. 54 Kent Taylor (UF commit, up two spots)
No. 70 Marcus Maye (UF commit, fell 19 spots despite a strong showing in the UA Game)
No. 74 Avery Young (fell 14 spots)
No. 80 Brian Poole (UF commit, up five spots)
On to the questions!
What are the chances we land one more O lineman, whether it be the kid who decommitted from Ole Miss or Avery Young? — Raymond
Florida will land at least one — if not both — in this class.
Fresh off his decommitment from Ole Miss, four-star offensive tackle Jake Meador officially visited Indiana and Florida this weekend. He was in Gainesville from Sunday to Tuesday and redshirt freshman OL Trip Thurman hosted him.
I wasn’t able to get in touch with Meador, but he reportedly had a great time and will choose between UF, Indiana and Missouri in the coming days. Having already received in-home visits from his other finalists this week, Florida will be the last school to see him Thursday before he makes his decision.
Young was the first recruit to meet new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who made an in-home visit with the four-star lineman Saturday. Pease was accompanied by offensive line coach Frank Verducci and wide receiver coach Aubrey Hill, Young’s primary recruiter.
Young plans to unofficially visit UF before his NSD announcement, which will be televised by ESPNU. His finalists are Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Georgia.
Why didn’t Darius Hamilton come last weekend? — Alex
The five-star defensive end from Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J., was scheduled for an unofficial visit on Jan. 10, but he couldn’t make the trip because of his mother.
“I was actually going down there for my mom because she wants to see the campus,” Hamilton said. “But my mom wasn’t able to make it last weekend and I don’t know if we still will or not. But it doesn’t really matter because she’s met all the coaches and she loves them. I may stop by Gainesville when I go to Miami for my official visit on Jan. 27. It just depends on if I have any extra time.”
Hamilton took an official visit to UF on Dec. 9 and was drawn to the city and depth chart.
“I loved it down there in Gainesville,” he said. “The school and community is just a great place and it felt like home. Plus Florida has a great team. With the type of players they’ve got like Dominique Easley and Shariff Floyd, a lot of them will be leaving after next year and they’re gonna have a lot of gaps to fill. So I think I can come in and have a great opportunity there.”
Hamilton has a television announcement set for Jan. 31 and his finalists are UF and Rutgers. He dropped Cal from consideration following the loss of its defenisve line coach Tosh Lupoi.
The Scarlet Knights have been Hamilton’s front-runner throughout the recruiting process.
“Rutgers is close to home and I’ve been there a lot,” he said. “They run the scheme that I ran in high school so it would be an easy transition for me. I think they can be really good in the future.”
So how has Florida been able to stay in the running?
“Bryant Young and Dan Quinn,” Hamilton said. “It don’t get much better than that. Bryant Young played in the league for about 14 years and Dan Quinn coached in the NFL for a long time, so I know they can take me there. I think very highly of them.
“I was also a Gator fan growing up. There’s just a bunch of great players that have came out of Florida and I always admired them, starting with Chris Leak. The school has tremendous history and everything about it is just big.”
Hamilton said his final decision will come down to playing time and finding the best fit for him.
“I don’t really know where I’m going yet,” he said. “I wanna be able to compete for a job early. I feel like if I get a chance I will make the most out of it. I also wanna go where I can fit in and get along with the players. Coaches come and go, but those are gonna be the people you’re around for the next four years. And then just the place where I feel the most comfortable.”
Who are some more under-the-radar type players we’re looking at like Jamal Marcus? Plan B’s with interest? — Mack
Jamal Marcus is no longer an option for the Gators.
On Monday, the three-star linebacker cancelled his official visit this weekend. A source close to the situation told me some grade issues came up and Marcus would not have been able to get into UF.
It’s a tough break for Muschamp, who was in great shape for Marcus with East Carolina as the only threat. Barring a flip from Fowler, now it looks like Florida won’t land a pure buck in this class.
I wouldn’t consider Vincent Valentine a “Plan B” prospect per se, but he wasn’t on the minds of Gator fans before January.
But the Edwardsville, Ill., defensive tackle took an official visit to UF this past weekend and had nothing but positive things to say on twitter.
“Gainesville is amazing,” he tweeted. “The Gators are growin on me every second down here.”
Nebraska was Valentine’s clear-cut leader prior to the trip, but afterward he said Florida is “close to No.1” and now it will come down to whether or not his family can handle the distance. The three-star prospect, who will receive an in-home visit from Muschamp and defensive line coach Bryant Young Thursday, is having an announcement ceremony at his school on NSD at 1 p.m.
The last two I know of right now are defensive ends Alex McCalister and Byran Cox Jr.
With Leonard Williams spurning Florida for a third time (he cancelled last weekend’s official visit and went to FSU instead) and Hamilton being a toss-up, the Gators have turned their attention to McCalister and Cox.
McCalister was also supposed to visit on Jan. 10 but couldn’t make it because of a family emergency. So he delayed his Jan. 17 decision and rescheduled his trip for this weekend, which shows how bad he wants to see UF. I expect him to commit on Monday over Georgia Tech.
Cox has been on Florida’s radar since Friday Night Lights, where he had an impressive outing and was given a conditional offer by the coaching staff. Now defensive coordinator Dan Quinn is pursuing hard and invited him to take his first and only official visit of the recruiting cycle this weekend. Cox told me Wednesday that if UF gives him the green light to commit, he will be a Gator.
I’ve heard that this is THE biggest weekend for recruiting. Who are we expecting in? — Timmy
I will have a visitor preview story up Thursday night, but here are the prospects expected to come.
RB Matt Jones
TE Colin Thompson
DT JaFar Mann
CB Brian Poole
WR Stefon Diggs
WR Avery Johnson (LSU commit)
DE Bryan Cox Jr.
DE Alex McCalister
DE/LB Dante Fowler Jr. (FSU commit)
CB Tracy Howard
Have any new names come up that may visit Florida before Signing Day? — Willie
Florida is after a 2012 quarterback prospect.
His name is Paxton Lynch and he hails from Trinity Christian Academy in Deltona, Fla. He’s 6-foot-6, 225 pounds and has a strong arm, but he was sidelined for the first half of his senior season with a bruised knee.
After flying under the radar all year, he’s gained some attention since his performance in last month’s Central Florida All-Star Game. He threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns, added a rushing touchdown and earned MVP honors following a 48-38 victory over the West team.
“(Florida’s) showing some of the strongest interest right now,” his father, David Lynch, told The Daytona Beach News-Journal Wednesday. “Florida and Indiana.”
Pease has been after Lynch since taking the job last week. He will officially visit Indiana next week and then Florida on Jan. 27.
Lynch participated in Friday Night Lights over the summer and here’s what Scout.com’s Chad Simmons wrote about him following the event.
“This quarterback is flying under the radar. He has good size, he throws a good ball, and his mechanics were solid at FNL. He is not drawing a lot of attention and he should be. He has the size, arm, and ability to play Division I football.”
You can see Lynch’s senior highlights HERE.
Florida has also reached out to Auburn WR commit JaQuay Williams, who is the teammate of UF commit Quinteze Williams.
Williams is going to take an official to Florida on Jan. 27, but he had this to say on twitter Wednesday night.
“How in the **** people saying I’m going to flip when I been screaming War Eagle since July. Hate when ppl put words in your mouth.”
What’s your current mock class? — Brian
I still think the Gators sign 27, including a surprise commitment from a QB, RB or Buck prospect.
RB Matt Jones
WR LaTroy Pittman (EE)
WR Nelson Agholor
WR Stefon Diggs
TE Kent Taylor
TE Colin Thompson
OL D.J. Humphries (EE)
OL Jessamen Dunker (EE)
OL Avery Young
OL Jake Meador
DT Damien Jacobs (EE/JUCO)
DT Jafar Mann
DT Omari Phillips
DE Jonathan Bullard
DE Alex McCalister
DE Quinteze Williams
LB Josh Harvey-Clemons
LB Antonio Morrison (EE)
LB Jeremi Powell
LB Schyler Miles (initially offered as a FB but now wanted at LB, his preferred position)
CB Tracy Howard
CB Brian Poole
CB Willie Bailey (EE)
S Marcus Maye
S Rhahiem Ledbetter
K Austin Hardin
27. NSD surprise
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions in the comment section below for the final mailbag of the 2012 recruiting class.