Gators working hard to contain 25 commitments


Published: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 26, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.

With 25 commitments and a consensus No. 1 ranking, it would appear most of the recruiting work is done for Florida.

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Lakeland's Chris Rainey is one of Florida's verbal commitments.

The Ledger/Calvin Knight

Facts

List of UF's current commitments

Current UF verbal commitments, with position, height, weight, hometown, high school and Scout.com star rating, are:5-Star Players1. Cameron Newton (QB, 6-5, 225) Atlanta, Ga. (Westlake)2. Torrey Davis (DT, 6-4, 285) Seffner (Armwood)3. Aaron Hernandez (TE, 6-4, 235) Bristol, Conn. (Central)4. James Wilson (OL, 6-5, 305) St. Augustine (Nease)5. Carlos Dunlap (DE, 6-7, 240) North Charleston, S.C. (Dorchester)6. Justin Trattou (DE, 6-4, 230) Ramsey, N.J. (Don Bosco Prep)4-Stars1. Sidell Corley (DE, 6-4, 250) Mobile, Ala. (McGill-Toolen)2. Jay Howard (DE, 6-5, 230) Orlando (Jones)3. Lorenzo Edwards (WLB, 6-5, 230) Edgewater (Orlando)4. Bo Williams (RB, 6-0, 205) Oakland Park (Northeast)5. DeMarcus Van Dyke (CB, 6-1, 157) Miami (Monsignor Pace)6. Duke Lemmens (DE, 6-5, 238) Westlake Village, Calif. (Oaks Christian)7. Bert Reed (CB, 6-0, 175) Panama City (Bay)8. John Brantley IV (QB, 6-3, 195) Ocala (Trinity Catholic)9. Joe Haden (WR, 5-11, 195) Fort Washington, Md. (Friendly)10. Chas Henry (P, 6-4, 200) Dallas, Ga. (East Paulding)11. Michael Pouncey (OL, 6-4, 298) Lakeland (Lakeland)12. Maurkice Pouncey (OL, 6-4, 283) Lakeland (Lakeland)13. Ahmad Black (CB, 5-10, 170) Lakeland (Lakeland)14. Bryan Waggener (QB, 6-4, 226) Glendora, Calif. (Juco)15. Chris Rainey (RB/WR, 5-9, 156) Lakeland (Lakeland)3-Stars1. John Jones (MLB, 6-3, 205) Sarasota (Booker)2. Steven Wilks (S, 6-2, 195) Lakeland (Lakeland)3. Paul Wilson (WR, 6-1, 175) Lakeland (Lakeland)4. Justin Grant (CB, 6-1, 180) St. Augustine (Nease)

That is not the case. Far from it, as evidenced by the latest bit of good news for the Gators, who picked up an oral commitment from five-star defensive end Justin Trattou on Thursday night, according to Rivals.com.

The prep standout from Ramsey, N.J., backed out of a commitment to Notre Dame and gave his pledge to UF coach Urban Meyer, who visited Trattou on Thursday. Trattou is rated the No. 4 defensive end prospect in the nation by Scout.com.

"I committed to Florida today," the 6-foot-4, 230-pound Trattou told Rivals.com. "Coach Meyer was in today and I just feel I fit better in Florida's system. To see what those defensive ends can do and how they play at Florida is more my style of play."

With national signing day less than two weeks away, Meyer and his assistants are grinding away as usual in late January, working the phones and logging all kinds of miles in the air and on the ground.

The Gators are working hard to keep the 25 commitments they have. They're working just as hard to squeeze in some of the nation's top remaining prospects, many of whom are strongly considering UF.

The 2007 class likely will total at or near 30 on Feb. 7. That means Florida still has four or five spots to fill and many prospects and possibilities to consider in the coming days.

Here is a look at the Gators' biggest remaining area of needs with national signing day fast approaching:

WIDE RECEIVER

The Gators have commitments from two wide receivers (Joe Haden and Paul Wilson) and are looking to add at least one more. UF remains in the running for three of the nation's best — Terrance Toliver, Deonte Thompson and Ahmad Paige.

UF appears to be in excellent shape with Paige, a former FSU commitment who visited Gainesville with his family this past weekend and appears to be favoring the Gators over Tennessee and Southern Cal. Paige is expected to announce his decision next week.

Thompson also is close to making a commitment. He's expected to do so after he visits Miami this weekend. Thompson is down to UF, UM and Southern Cal, although Florida State has been trying to make a late play for him.

The wild card is Toliver, the nation's No. 1 wide receiver from Hempstead, Texas. Toliver is down to Florida and LSU (and he's not naming a leader) and is waiting until national signing day (Feb. 7) to announce his decision. Even if Paige and Thompson are already in the fold by that time, the Gators would find room for Toliver.

DEFENSIVE LINE

Florida is still trying to address a huge need at tackle. The Gators have a commitment from one of the top prospects in the nation in Torrey Davis, but he is facing an uphill battle to qualify academically and may be headed the junior college route.

The biggest remaining name on the board is John Brown from Lakeland, who will be on campus this weekend. Even though Brown also is on shaky academic ground, he's made enough progress that UF can bring him in for a visit, which means he has a chance to qualify academically. Alabama also is pushing hard for Brown, who is expected to choose between the Gators and Tide early next week, possibly on Monday.

UF also remains in the running for Cameron Heyward, a tackle from Suwanee, Ga., who is the son of the late former NFL running back Craig "Ironhead" Heyward. Heyward visited this past weekend, and Tommy Duhart will be in town this weekend.

Even though the Gators have commitments from five defensive ends they're still recruiting the position because of the uncertainty surrounding two of their commitments — Sidell Corley and Jay Howard.

Corley and Howard both committed to UF this past summer, but both have been wavering over the last few months, especially Corley, who now appears to be leaning toward Alabama and new head coach Nick Saban. Corley also is showing an interest in Tennessee. Corley was schedule to visit UF this weekend, but is going to LSU instead.

Howard visited Tallahassee this past weekend and could bolt to the Seminoles. UF, however, hopes to solidify his commitment when he's on campus this weekend.

The top-rated prospect still on the board for UF is Allen Bailey, a five-star prospect from Darien, Ga. Bailey has eliminated Georgia and now is down to Florida, Miami and Alabama, with the Hurricanes apparently leading.

LINEBACKER

The situation here is not complicated at all. The Gators have commitments from three prospects (Lorenzo Edwards, John Jones and Steve Wilks) and are waiting for one more player to decide — Brandon Hicks from Jacksonville Forrest.

Hicks has been down to Florida and Miami since the summer and is now close to making a decision after visiting UM this past weekend. If Hicks opts to become a Hurricane, the scholarship UF has set aside for him will go toward a prospect at another position and the Gators will have a linebacker class of three.

CORNERBACK/SAFETY

UF has commitments from three cornerbacks (DeMarcus Van Dyke, Justin Grant and Ahmad Black, who is already enrolled), but the Gators have yet to secure the heir apparent to All-America free safety Reggie Nelson.

Perhaps the best possibility is Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas standout Major Wright, the nation's No. 4 free safety prospect. Wright is a physical, aggressive player who likes to play close to the line of scrimmage and also could fill a need at strong safety.

Wright visited UF two weeks ago and is making an official visit to Miami this weekend. He's also considering Ohio State and Southern Cal and is expected to announce his decision next week.

Florida also is making a run at Jerimy Finch, an All-America free safety from Indianapolis who made an oral commitment to Indiana a few weeks ago. The Gators will have a chance to turn him this weekend when he visits Gainesville.

The Gators also are entertaining two cornerback prospects this weekend — Ronald Johnson from Muskegon, Mich., and Moses Jenkins from Fort Lauderdale Boyd Anderson. Cornerback remains a position of need because of the uncertainty surrounding Van Dyke.

Van Dyke committed to Miami this past summer, then switched to Florida when UM fired Larry Coker. New UM coach Randy Shannon has moved back in on Van Dyke and it's looking more and more like he'll sign with the 'Canes on Feb. 7. Van Dyke has been talking up the 'Canes since his visit to Coral Gables this past weekend.

Robbie Andreu can be reached at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com

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