Florida Recruiting Breakdown


Published: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 6:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 6:22 p.m.

It's the last weekend before National Signing Day, which makes it the perfect time to take an overview of how Florida is doing in the overall picture. The consensus wisdom has the Gators lagging a bit behind Florida State and Miami at this point, but there are plenty of big fish left in the sea that could change that in a hurry.

What follows is a position-by-position breakdown analyzing how the Gators are doing.

Quarterback

Need (Scale of 1-10): 5

Commitments: None

On the board: Cornelius Ingram - Hawthorne, Blair Peterson - San Antonio (Texas) Churchill

Thoughts: While Florida has Chris Leak to start for at least two more years, the transfers of Patrick Dosh and Ingle Martin leave the Gators with just three scholarship quarterbacks. Florida really needs to land Ingram, and realistically, it's hard to imagine Ingram choosing South Florida over the Gators. His other finalist is Florida State, which already has two quarterback commitments. If Ingram does shock everyone and choose a different school, expect Peterson to get an offer and jump at it.

Running Back

Need: 2

Commitments: Markus Manson - Tuscaloosa (Ala.) Hillcrest

On the board: Andrew Johnson - Pittsburgh (Penn.) North Hills

Thoughts: With Ciatrick Fason, DeShawn Wynn, Jimtavis Walker and Skyler Thornton returning, this was not a pressing need. Florida has the theory that there is no such thing as too many running backs though (especially when you blow redshirt years on special teams like the Gators did with Thornton). Florida has more than filled the need, even if Johnson, who visits this weekend, decides to go elsewhere

Fullback

Need: 4

Commitments: None

On the board: Eric Rutledge - P.K. Yonge

Thoughts: The only reason that this gets a four is that Florida insists it needs a fullback, even though the Gators rarely use one. The Gators just offered Rutledge a scholarship after David Holbert chose Tennessee, and he really is a better linebacker prospect by most estimations, who would be wasted playing fullback for the Gators. This desperation on Florida's part to get a fullback should be a sure sign that Joe Cohen is moving to defensive end, which is his best position anyway.

Wide Receiver

Need: 5

Commitments: None

On the board: Derrick McPhearson - Hyattsville (Md.) Dematha, Marcus Baker - Hawthorne

Thoughts: Florida's playing style is killing the Gators here. Stud wide receivers don't want to run slip screens. Xavier Carter, the top receiver prospect in Florida said as much when he chose LSU over Florida. The closest Florida came to any success here was an early commitment from Lance Leggett, who then switched his commitment to Miami. Just this last week D.J. Hall chose Alabama, a program with probation problems that doesn't even like to pass, and Doug DUtch chose Michigan over the Gators. The smart money says McPhearson will commit to Maryland, and Florida will finally offer a scholarship to Baker who is desperate to be a Gator. In all, Florida is getting clobbered here.

Offensive Line

Need: 9

Commitments: Jason Watkins - Lake Gibson, Drew Miller - Sarasota Ridgeview, Jim Tartt - Crawfordville Wakulla

On the board: Phil Trautwein - Voorheis (N.J.) East Regional

Thoughts: Florida hit a home run here. Joe Wickline and Ron Zook seem to be a deadly combination on the recruiting front for linemen, though the recent pseudo-decommitment of Trautwein isn't that promising. He is worried about the travel for his family, and the other two teams he is considering are Michigan State and Virginia.

Tight End

Need: 10

Commitments: Tate Casey - Longview (Texas), Markell Thompson - Southwest Mississippi Junior College

On the board: None

Thoughts: Florida uses its tight end in the offense, and with the graduation of star Ben Troupe, only would-be senior David Kenner is left on the roster on scholarship. With Casey and Thompson, the Gators add a freshman and a junior, which is just what they needed, provided Casey doesn't decide to play professional baseball instead.

Defensive Line

Need: 10

Commitments: Defensive End Brandon Daniel - Pompano Beach Ely, Defensive End Mike Mangold - Merritt Island, Defensive End Jeremy Mincey - El Dorado (Kan.) Butler County Community College

On the board: Defensive Tackle Franklin Okam - Richardson (Texas) Lake Highlands, Defensive End Willie Young - Palm Beach Gardens, Defensive End Derrick Harvey - Greenbelt (Md.) Eleanor Roosevelt

Thoughts: Florida needs help on the defensive line, graduating starting ends Bobby McCray and Darrell Lee and top tackle reserve Kenny Parker. The saying goes that defensive tackle is the toughest position to find in college recruiting, and that proves as true as ever. Florida's only chance at the position is with Okam, who is between the Gators, Oklahoma and Texas. He is a must get for Florida to have a top recruiting class. Derrick Harvey, just on sheer talent, is also a big get if Florida pulls it off, though the Gators are already doing moderately well at end.

Linebacker

Need: 7

Commitments: Brandon Siler - Orlando Evans

On the board: Javier Estopinan - South Miami, Robert Ayers - Bennetsville (S.C.) Malboro County, James Bryant - Reading (Penn.), Willie Williams - Miami Carol City

Thoughts: Florida graduated a couple of linebackers with Reid Fleming and Matt Farrior, though neither was a superstar. The Gators have some young, talented players at the position, led by Channing Crowder and Earl Everett, but they need more. Willie Williams, the best high school defensive player in the nation, visits this weekend. He is almost certainly going to sign with Miami, but if the Gators steal him, it will be a supreme coup. Even without him, landing two of the other three prospects to go along with Siler will put Florida in good shape.

Defensive Back

Need: 6

Commitments: Safety Tony Joiner - Haines City, Safety Kyle Jackson - Neptune Beach Fletcher, Cornerback McIntosh Nicolas - Immokalee, Cornerback Dawayne Grace - Jacksonville White

Thoughts: Even though Florida graduated its entire starting secondary, the Gators have plenty of young players to fill in the gaps, led by Cory Bailey, Jarvis Herring, Dee Webb and Reynaldo Hill. Florida more than filled its needs. Great defensive back class.

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