Meet Kedric Johnson

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Well, you finally have it Gator fans: the second verbal commitment for Florida since the regular season started.

Meet Kedric Johnson.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end from Palmetto is the 11th pledge for the Gators so far (safety Dee Finley is now considered part of the 2009 class because of his enrollment at Milford Academy in New York).

What? You’re having a hard time finding Florida’s hottest addition to its class?

Wait? You’re confused as to why UF would take such an unheralded recruit at a position that still has the likes of Seffner, Fla., Armwood’s Ryne Giddins and Sanford, Fla., Seminole’s own Dyron Dye?

You thought that the 2009 class was all about quality over quantity?

Don’t fret, Johnson is better than advertised.

Though Rivals.com has him as a three-star prospect, the 22nd-best weakside defensive end and the No. 89 player in the state of Florida, Johnson has the athletic ability to be playmaker for Florida.

He’s a bit small for his position, but most high school kids are when they’re nearly eight months away from graduation. However, he does have tremendous speed. He’s been clocked at 4.69 seconds in the 40-yard dash and on film, he can be seen chasing down running backs and scrambling quarterbacks in and out of the backfield.

One thing that could limit Johnson at the college level is the fact that most of the time he lines up standing up on the defensive line like an outside linebacker. How fast he can come out of a stance has yet to be seen.

Jamie Newberg – national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com – describes Johnson as a “rangy, athletic kid who’s a good pass rusher.”

The talent he competes against isn’t the best, but Johnson put up solid numbers as a junior. He finished with 40 total tackles and 19 sacks in 2007. Johnson registered 11.5 sacks through the first four games this season.

“I think he’s got really good upside and could be one of those real athletic, big, fast defensive ends in the SEC,” Newberg said of Johnson. “I’m assuming he’s gonna need a redshirt year – he’s only (225) pounds. That’s probably why he’s rated a little bit lower than some of the kids in front of him.”

Both Giddins and Dye were at the top Florida’s defensive end list, but with Johnson’s commitment, Newberg said he believes the Gators’ staff doesn’t feel as good about getting either at this point.

Limited access has been granted to Dye – and the rest of his Seminole teammates – so it’s been tough to get a good read on what he’s thinking about colleges.

Early on, it seemed that Giddins was a Florida lock. He was at Friday Night Lights over the summer and was hanging with the coaching staff instead of working out. But Newberg isn’t so sure if the Gators lead for his services. The surprising favorite for Giddins could be South Florida.

It seems like the Johnson commit wasn’t necessarily a desperate move by Florida’s coaching staff but a move to get a talented guy with a lot of potential.

The Gators have pretty good depth at the position, and with Gary Brown on board at tackle Florida looks to be in good shape in terms of numbers on the defensive front.

There’s no doubt that Johnson is a work in progress, but he is by no means a wasted scholarship. Florida doesn’t have a lot of room to work with in this year’s class, but if Giddins or Dye wanted to jump on board, it’s doubtful that Florida would oppose.

Two other names Newberg said to watch out for are Miami, Columbus defensive tackle Antwan Lowery. Lowery was on hand for the Miami game and has Florida in his top three. Also look for Broomfield, Colo., Legacy defensive end Nick Kasa. Both sides were pretty high on each other over the summer, but talk has slowed down a bit. He wants to make it in for the LSU game this weekend and if he has a decent season, he could be a late-season addition to this class.

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