Gators strike out on two top recruiting prospects

Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 12:48 a.m.

After picking up five oral commitments earlier in the week, Florida's recruiting momentum stalled Wednesday.

The Gators lost out on two big-time prospects - Lake Mary linebacker Keith Rivers and Arlington, Texas, wide receiver Lance Leggett.

Not getting Rivers was expected because he's been leaning heavily to Southern Cal since early in the recruiting process. After visiting Gainesville this past weekend, Rivers went with his favorite and committed to the Trojans on Wednesday morning.

What the Gators didn't expect was to lose Leggett, who had committed to UF the week after Christmas and seemed a lock to sign with Florida on Feb. 4.

When he pledged for Florida, Leggett said the Gators had everything he was looking for athletically and academically, plus he said he was looking forward to playing with quarterback Chris Leak.

Leggett, who is originally from Bartow and wanted to return to the state to play his college ball, apparently now believes the Miami Hurricanes have all he's looking for in a school.

"I don't know why I committed to Florida in the first place," Leggett told TheInsiders. "It really wasn't the best situation for me. I just really kept thinking about Chris Leak, but then I started to realize that there is more to it than that.

"I needed to switch. People are probably wondering why I changed because it probably doesn't happen too often. But since I haven't signed yet, I knew I could do it. Miami has a great team coming back and they need some receivers to step up. I can't wait, man."

Leggett said there's no chance he'll change his mind again and turn back to his original choice, Florida.

"Man, it's final," he said. "I'm going to Miami."

Since committing to the Gators, Leggett had been under pressure from his father to back out of his commitment and go with the Hurricanes.

In other news:

  • Columbia cornerback George Timmons will make an official visit to UF this weekend. Timmons visited North Carolina last weekend and also has visits scheduled to Miami, LSU and South Florida. He has received offers from all five schools and said Wednesday he has no favorite at this point.

  • Fred Davis, an All-American wide receiver from Toledo, Ohio, who visited UF this past weekend, has postponed his announcement, which was supposed to be made today at his high school. Davis appears torn between Miami, Southern Cal and Ohio State and is facing pressure to stay close to home and commit to the Buckeyes.

    Although the Gators apparently won't be getting Leggett or Davis, UF still has several highly rated wide receivers on their board, including Xavier Carter (Melbourne Palm Bay), Doug Dutch (Washington, D.C.), D.J. Hall (Fort Walton Beach) and Derrick McPhearson (Hyattsville, Md.). Carter and McPhearson are visiting UF this weekend.

  • Haines City safety Tony Joiner reaffirmed his commitment to Florida after visiting Gainesville this past weekend. Joiner said he has canceled his upcoming visits to LSU and North Carolina State.

  • Orlando Oak Ridge defensive tackle Joe Joseph, who visited UF last weekend, has orally committed to Miami but still might make a visit to Tennessee this weekend.

  • Jacksonville First Coast wide receiver Mike McIntosh, who was scheduled to visit Gainesville this weekend, orally committed to Clemson Wednesday night and probably will not visit UF.

    You can reach Robbie Andreu by e-mail at andreur@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5022.

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