A Look Ahead At The 1/9 Visits

Published: Wednesday, January 7, 2004 at 9:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 7, 2004 at 9:44 p.m.

This weekend is the first big weekend of official visits in this critical stretch run for Gator recruiting. 15 recruits are due to be in Gainesville. Amongst them are players that represent important pieces to filling needs. Linebackers Keith Rivers, Brandon Siler and James Bryant could go along way to helping reload a linebacker group that loses two starters and three total from the depth chart. Tate Casey is more than capable of being the next great Gator tight end, if he comes to Gainesville which would mean picking Florida and passing on the Major League Baseball draft. Offensive linemen Drew Miller and Jason Watkins are priorities with the Gators losing two offensive linemen this year and then several more again next year. Safety commits Kyle Jackson and Tony Joiner are expected to be a big part of the Florida secondary which graduated all of its starters this year. Cornerback McIntosh Nicolas would also go a long way towards revamping the secondary. Defensive linemen Joe Joseph and Brandon Lang are very talented players that could add needed depth to the defensive front. Wide receivers DJ Hall and Doug Dutch are big time playmakers that potentially could be very nice weapons for Chris Leak to throw to. Cornelius Ingram represents someone that could be groomed to follow Chris Leak.

This weekend is that much more crucial with some recruits in particular who plan to announce their respective college intentions shortly after this weekend. Amongst them are Rivers, Dutch and Casey, who will likely make their college choice known this coming week. Hall, Siler, Nicolas, Ingram, Watkins and Miller are all guys that could announce following this visit but may choose to make more visits before announcing.

Leading up to this weekend the biggest topic of discussion is the future of Keith Rivers, a 5 star linebacker from Orlando. He is down to Southern Cal and Florida now with SC maintaining a slight lead. Coach Zook and the staff have made a great run in his recruitment to have the opportunity that they do. It was long thought that Rivers was a SC lock, but slowly but surely the Gators clawed their way back. With Keith planning to spend the 9th, 10th and 11th in Gainesville before making his official announcement on the 12th, one has to like the Gators' chances. A commitment from Rivers could have a similar effect to the commitment last year from Chris Leak. Another key commitment next week will be Tate Casey making his intentions known. Casey picking Florida fills a big need. If he selects UCLA, Octavious Darby becomes a must get for Florida.

The formula for recruiting success last year was a strong January push featuring the bulk of the allotted official campus visits. That is the recipe that Ron Zook and company are looking to replicate after signing what many considering the top class in the Nation last year.

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