Atkins affirms his way
Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 10:56 p.m.
The Gainesville Sun learned Thursday that Daytona Beach Mainland standout Avery Atkins, the No. 1 defensive back on UF's recruiting board, has reaffirmed his commitment to the Gators and will sign with Florida.
"I'm coming," Atkins said Thursday. Atkins committed to the Gators months ago, but decided to visit other schools, including Florida State last weekend, after Ron Zook was fired on Oct. 25.
Now that he's down to his final visit - Florida this weekend - Atkins is firming up his earlier decision to cast his lot with the Gators.
The secondary, especially cornerback, is a vital recruiting need for the Gators. Atkins is the third defensive back to commit to the Gators over the past week, joining Miami Coral Reef's Dorian Munroe and Apopka's Eric Sledge.
Munroe had earlier committed to Florida State, while Sledge had given an oral commitment to South Carolina less than a week before his official visit to Gainesville last weekend.
Atkins, Munroe and Sledge likely will have a chance to compete for early playing time. There's a good possibility Sledge will start his UF career at wide receiver.
There's no doubt where Atkins will be lining up when he arrives at UF. He's the No. 9 cornerback prospect in the nation, according to Rivals.com, and the Gators need immediate help at the position.
Avery is one of an expected nine to 10 prospects being entertained by visiting Florida this weekend.
One prospect likely to get a great deal of attention from the UF coaches is Pensacola Washington linebacker Jon Demps. UF has made a late run at Demps and will try to make a favorable last impression. The Gators currently have only four scholarship linebackers and commitments from just two linebackers - Jacksonville First Coast's Ryan Stamper and Columbus, Ga.'s, Kalvin Baker.
To fill their most critical recruiting needs, the Gators probably need to secure at least two more linebackers and another defensive back between now and Wednesday.
After a slow start due to the coaching change, the Gators have rallied in the past few weeks and now are in a position to have a possible top 15 class if a few more prospects fall their way in the final few days.
"Urban Meyer and his staff have made up a lot of ground in a hurry," said national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg of Scouts.com. "They really have a chance to finish strong. This is a key weekend for them."
Meyer and his staff have made in-roads into Texas and two more prospects from that state will be visiting this weekend - running back R.J. Jackson (Houston Westside) and wide receiver Brandon La Fell (Houston Lamar). UF already has commitments from two Texans - wide receiver David Nelson (Wichita Falls) and running back Kestahn Moore (Mansfield).
Also expected to visit this weekend are Daytona Beach Mainland tight end Brian Ellis, Apopka linebacker Quentin Taylor and Fort Union Military Academy wide receiver Derrick McPhearson, who signed with UF last February, but did not qualify academically.
You can reach Robbie Andreu at email@example.com or by calling (352) 374-5022
Florida's campus guests The following prospects are expected to visit the University of Florida this weekend:
Player Position Height Weight Hometown/High School Avery Atkins DB 5-11 185 Daytona Beach/Mainland Jonathan Demps LB 6-4 228 Pensacola/Washington Brian Ellis TE 6-3 235 Daytona Beach/Mainland R.J. Jackson RB 5-11 200 Houston/Westside Brandon La Fell WR 6-3 170 Houston/Lamar Walter McFadden DB 6-0 175 Pompano Beach/Ely Derrick McPhearson WR 6-1 190 Fort Union Military Academy O.J. Murdock WR 6-0 185 Tampa/Middleton Quentin Taylor LB 6-1 205 Apopka
UF RECRUITING on Page 7C
Continued from 1C
Big weekend for late push
SEE PAGE 7C
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