UF racks up at Army game


Ronald Powell makes a juggling catch for a touchdown in the first half.

The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 2:46 p.m.

Another all-star game, another stellar day for the Florida Gators.

Fresh off gaining two crucial verbal commitments at the Under Armour All-America High School Game, Florida had one of the biggest recruiting days in recent history at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Saturday.

With 21 pledges heading in, the Gators ended the afternoon with 24 after getting commitments from Philadelphia George Washington defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde defensive end Ronald Powell and West Palm Beach Dwyer safety Matt Elam.

All are considered to be five-star prospects by both Rivals.com and Scout.com.

The Gators' day of riches began at halftime with Floyd's announcement. Thought by most to be an Ohio State lean for most of the year, Floyd pulled what he called a "shocker" by picking Florida.

"It was a battle between Ohio State and Florida," Floyd said of his commitment to Florida during NBC's live broadcast of Saturday's game. "Coming down to the end, I just picked the (school) where I knew I would be most comfortable and where I can spend the next four years of my life."

Floyd is considered by most recruiting Web sites to be the top defensive tackle prospect in the country. Rivals rates the 6-foot-3, 310-pound Floyd as the ninth-best player overall. Floyd constantly disrupted the West's offensive line Saturday, coming away with two sacks and a few Gator chomps.

Floyd's commitment was the biggest of the day, but it was the re-commitment of Elam that might have meant the most.

Elam pulled a New Year's Day switch on Florida when he committed to Florida State amid Florida coach Urban Meyer's health issues. Days leading up to Saturday's game, Elam told reporters his recruitment was over and he was enrolling early at FSU. However, Elam eventually decommitted from FSU after having an "emotional" phone conversation with Meyer.

Elam said it was his relationship with Meyer and his reassurance that he would coach in 2010 that influenced his final decision. A decision Elam said he's "positive" about.

"Me and coach Meyer, our relationship is so strong," said Elam, who Rivals ranks as the No. 2 safety nationally. "I have faith in him and I trust him. He said he's going to be (at Florida) forever.

"I'm ready to get in there and compete."

The least surprising of Florida's three verbals was Powell's. Rated as the top weakside defensive end in the country by Rivals, the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Powell had Florida as his top school ever since the summer. Powell visited Gainesville three times in 2009, all on his own dime.

Saturday's additions gave Florida the consensus No. 1 recruiting class, according to Rivals, ESPN and Scout. Getting both Powell and Floyd makes for quite the defensive class upfront.

"I think it's scary for the rest of the SEC when you pair up Ronald Powell with Sharrif Floyd," Rivals recruiting analyst Mike Farrell said Saturday. "Powell can play so many different positions. He's going to start off at linebacker at Florida, but I think he's going to grow into a big, pass-rushing defensive end."

Powell, who earned Player of the Game honors, spent time at tight end as well and caught a touchdown pass on a fourth-and-1 around the 30-yard line to put the West up 7-0 with 3:48 remaining in the first quarter.

He also registered a sack and forced fumble on the final play of the first half and returned a blocked extra point for two points to give the West a 23-6 lead in the fourth quarter.

Gator tight end commit Gerald Christian (Dwyer) helped the East back into the game with his 22-yard touchdown in the fourth off a screen pass, cutting the West's lead to 23-14. Christian finished with 39 yards off two catches.

Cape Coral cornerback commit Jaylen Watkins (East) registered a tackle on the day.

Miramar wide receiver Ivan McCartney, who Florida is heavily recruiting, scored the East's first touchdown off a pass from midfield to start the fourth quarter.

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