Gators host 16 prospects

Published: Monday, January 23, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 24, 2006 at 11:41 a.m.

Florida brought in 6 prospects that were either previously uncommitted or committed elsewhere this past weekend, along with 10 current Gator commitments. The list of non-Gator commitments featured Texas running back Mon Williams, North Carolina corner back Raeshon McNeill (Notre Dame commitment), Mississippi safety Allen Walker (Ole Miss commitment),

Tampa offensive linemen Daron Rose and Miami corner back Patrick Robinson. All five of which are rated as 4 star prospects by multiple major recruiting services. It is believed that the Gators secured at least one more commitment and maybe a second from the weekend visits.

While rumors have flown about which recruit(s) may constitute that commitment (or those commitments), the speculation will soon end on Patrick Robinson. The talented cover corner will go on “Countdown to Signing Day” this Wednesday evening and in front of the regional audience announce his college selection. It will come down to another heated Florida-Florida State battle for Robinson.

Although there has been conflicting information out about what choice Robinson may make, Mon Williams has been steadfast in his interest in Florida throughout the recruiting process.

Williams has continually listed the Gators as his leader, spurning in-state powerhouse Texas’s inquiries while waiting on his childhood favorite. He was finally able to visit Gainesville and the Florida campus over the weekend and from the sound of it, he had a great time.

While he may hold off his official decision until National Signing Day, it is probable that Meyer will have landed the “big back” he and the coaches have been coveting.

One of the more interesting stories of the week was the Raeshon McNeill saga. McNeill came out of nowhere, in terms of Gator recruiting, and took center stage with his last minute visit.

McNeill, the defensive MVP of the East squad at the Army Game became the source for much angst from the Notre Dame following that began bashing Urban Meyer as unethical, a “cry baby” and a host of other outlandish insults while of course maintaining their morale superiority.

Welcome to recruiting, Irish fans. Other schools don’t stop recruiting committed players. When they thought Raeshon might abandon them in favor of Orange and Blue pastures, they questioned the integrity of McNeill himself.

When word began spreading that Meyer had not offered McNeill during his official visit, one Irish fan displayed enough arrogance to suggest that Meyer decided against an offer because he is scared of Notre Dame’s head coach Charlie Weis.

Through the Irish meltdown, the week long saga took Gator fans through a ride of guessing who the mystery visitor was to penciling McNeill tentatively into the class to scratching heads while wondering how he left without an offer. By all appearances the story ended as abruptly as it had begun.

McNeill’s presence on the Gator recruiting board appears to have been a shooting star that disappeared from sight as quickly as it had appeared. Daron Rose, by contrast, has been a mainstay.

Rose attended Junior Day and the Friday Night Lights camp over the summer in Gainesville. At that time it appeared Rose was a strong lean to Florida and destined to play his collegiate home games in the Swamp.

Since then it’s been a slow and steady tilt in Florida State’s favor. With Rose slated to visit Tallahassee next weekend for the infamous banquet weekend, it is hard to envision Rose not picking the Noles unless his mind is already made up after this trip and is just a matter of playing the process out.

Reviewing their options

While ten Gator commitments spent their weekend in Gainesville firming up in their respective minds that they made the right decision, a couple of Gator pledges were checking out other campuses and weighing options.

Landstown High School (VA) wide receiver Damon McDaniel, teammate of future Gator Percy Harvin, spent a couple of days in Tallahassee to see what Florida State had to offer him. He spent the previous weekend in Columbus, Ohio to get a look at Ohio State.

With National Signing Day just over a week away, it is getting to be time where McDaniel will have to decide if he still wants his place in the number one recruiting class in the country or if he’d prefer to play his college ball elsewhere.

Rumors are circulating, from that same School out West recruiting site (referenced last week) that hounded Carl Johnson and Dustin Doe decommitment rumors even as the Gator commitments time and time again denied them outright, that McDaniel will withdraw his verbal pledge from Florida but obviously credibility is a serious issues where that site is concerned.

Even if their ‘throw it at the wall and see what sticks’ approach works here, nothing short of Damon himself saying he is no longer a Gator should be trusted.

Damian Williams out of Springdale High School in Springdale, Arkansas opted not to take an official visit to Arkansas this weekend with friends and teammates that are committed to the Hogs.

But that decision did not preclude Damian from spending sometime on campus this weekend as the school is roughly fifteen minutes from his home.

At this time, it is probably pretty safe to believe Williams will keep his commitment to Florida. Urban Meyer, who was slated to be in the Williams’ home Sunday night, will take his in-home visit later this week.

The visit was delayed due to weather conditions that prevented the travel plans. If Williams is having any concerns at all, the visit with Meyer should solidify him in the Gators class.

Marcus Gilbert was in Gainesville this weekend and he put to rest any talk he would follow that up with a visit to Miami this weekend as Florida was his final visit. He is ready to sign with Meyer and company and begin his college career this summer when the freshmen report for Summer B.

Time and room running out

As previously stated, National Signing Day is coming up on us rapidly and as Florida’s staff checks the fax machines for toner and paper and prepares for a long and happy day of collecting National Letters of Intent from perhaps the best signing class in the school’s history, there is still work to be done.

While the group is nearly complete, there are a few open slots remaining. It is almost certain that Mon Williams take the place that he deserves in this class when he is ready to make his college choice official. After Williams, there is still plenty of speculation to go around.

If nobody decommits that would give the coaching staff two openings to work with and a handful of top talent still on the board to try to bring in.

Patrick Robinson appears to be priority number 1 at corner back, which is still a big need for the Gators.

Robinson is a true shutdown corner with plenty of speed to burn. He is a perfect fit for the scheme that Coach Strong and Coach Mattison run.

His decision will be made live on Wednesday night at roughly 6:30 PM. The announcement will air on Sunshine here in Florida and on Fox Sports Network throughout the southeast.

If Robinson picks Florida, the coaches may very well set their sights on one more offensive lineman. The leading candidate for that spot would be Daron Rose with perhaps a very remote outside chance that Army All-American Andre Smith out of Huffman High School (AL) could visit and be swayed by the Gator coaches.

If Robinson picks Florida State, many possibilities that can’t be gone into at this point open up. One thing Meyer and company have done well is position themselves not to be left high and dry should any late surprises come up in the final days of the 2006 recruiting season.

Success breeds success and Meyer and the rest of the Gators coaches continue to put together the pieces of the number one class in America that should help bring championships back to Gainesville and the University of Florida.

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