Another touted recruiting class forming for UF

UF coach Urban Meyer, right, has turned his attention to recruiting.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 5:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2009 at 5:06 p.m.

Like someone who's had too much bubbly to celebrate the New Year, the Florida Gators were expecting to wake up to 2007 with a significant hangover. And, of course, they did.


Official visits

Here is a list of prospects expected to visit UF this weekend:

Player Pos. Ht./Wt. City/High school

Orson Charles TE 6-3/230 Tampa/Plant
Andre Debose ATH 6-0/170 Sanford/Seminole
Mike Gillislee RB 6-1/205 DeLand
Jarvis Jones LB 6-3/226 Columbus (Ga.)/Carver
Dre Kirkpatrick CB 6-2/180 Gadsden (Ala.)/Gadsden City
Greg Reid CB 5-9/175 Valdosta (Ga.)/Lowndes
Trent Richardson RB 5-11/210 Pensacola/Escambia
Luther Robinson DT 6-3/280 Fort Pierce/Westwood
Jawanza Starling S 6-2/195 Tallahassee/Lincoln
Frankie Telfort LB 5-11/197 Miami/Gulliver Prep

"The coaches. ... we all saw it coming," Florida coach Urban Meyer said.

A national championship hangover. That's what it was in 2007. And it had nothing to do with growing fat and lazy and complacent after winning the title with a 41-14 crushing of Ohio State in Glendale, Ariz. It had to do with a lack of returning experienced talent that was created by back-to-back poor recruiting classes Ron Zook's last in 2004 and Meyer's first in 2005.

"We had a two-year void in recruiting, and it showed," Meyer said. "It certainly showed last year in the bowl (a 41-35 loss to Michigan in the Capital One Bowl in which a young UF defense was shredded)."

The Gators lost 22 seniors from the 2006 national championship team, plus the top junior defensive players all opted to enter the NFL Draft middle linebacker Brandon Siler, defensive end Jarvis Moss and cornerback Ryan Smith.

Those losses left Florida having to basically replace its entire defense heading into the 2007 season. And, thanks to those two barren recruiting years in 2004-05, the Gators had to do it with young, inexperienced players, some of them true freshmen.

"There was a feeling of, 'Here we go,' " Meyer said.

As expected, the 2007 season turned out to be a struggle, especially on defense, and the Gators finished a disappointing 9-4.

This time, it should be different coming off the school's second national championship in three years. Meyer said he does not expect a dropoff or a national championship hangover.

"This is not going to be like last year," he said.

One major difference is that the entire defense and many key backups return, including middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who announced his decision Thursday to return for his senior season.

Another major difference is the Gators have many young and experienced players ready to step in and play on offense and defense the benefit of three consecutive top-10 recruiting classes.

"We don't have that void," Meyer said. "We have a recruiting base that's solid now."

And it should stay that way, with Meyer and the Gators on the verge of putting together yet another strong recruiting class, the fourth in a row.

Meyer said UF's victory over Oklahoma hasn't created a hangover, it's produced a recruiting bounce.

"This is a tremendous boost," he said. "We're going to have a very good recruiting class."

The Gators already have commitments from 16 prospects, six of whom have already enrolled at UF offensive lineman Nick Alajajian, linebacker Jon Bostic, safety Dee Finley, offensive lineman Jonotthan Harrison, defensive tackle Edwin Herbert and tight end Desmond Parks.

With UF expecting to sign 22-24 players, the 2009 recruiting class is near completion.

"We expect to close this thing (strong)," Meyer said. "The last four or five are always very important."

If the Gators finish strong, as expected, there should be no more voids any time soon.

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