UF recruits out in force at Under Armour All-America Game
Published: Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 11:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 11:33 p.m.
If Saturday's Under Armour All-America High School Game was any indication, Florida's football future is very bright.
The Gators' recruiting class was out in full force at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Before the game, eight Florida commits represented either the White or Black teams. By halftime, Florida added two major verbal pledges from Staten Island, N.Y., Curtis defensive end Dominique Easley and Pahokee wide receiver Chris Dunkley.
"I have to stay in-state. I'm a mamma's boy. I'm going to Florida," Dunkley said during ESPN's live broadcast of Satuday's all-star game.
Dunkley's second-quarter commitment wasn't much of a surprise. For most of the recruiting season, Dunkley was considered by most recruiting analysts to be a "silent" commitment to Florida. Dunkley, who followed his on-air commitment with numerous Gator chomps, chose Florida over Alabama.
Easley, however, was a surprise. The 6-foot-3, 253-pounder end was considered a Gator lean over the summer after visiting Gainesville and developing a solid relationship with Florida coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio. Things didn't work out for Easley and the Gators, and he eventually committed to Penn State.
Easley backed out of that commitment during the practices leading up to Saturday's game. Easley told reporters Saturday that it was Addazio's recruitment of him that helped him come to his final decision. Easley's commitment marks the first major positive development for Florida since Addazio took over as interim coach for Meyer, who is taking an indefinite leave of absence.
"I always wanted to be a Gator," Easley told Rivals.com. "I always wanted to be a Gator in this recruiting class, but something happened, but me and the coaches talked through it and I am back where I want to be, where I should be."
Easley's play must have excited Gators fans -- and coaches -- watching Saturday. He garnered MVP honors after finishing the day with four tackles (three for a loss), a sack, two quarterback hurries, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for the Black team, who won 32-7.
Though recruited as a defensive end, Easley could play at tackle if needed.
With Easley and Dunkley's commitments, shot up to No. 5 in Rivals class rankings. Florida previously had the third-best class until West Palm Beach Dwyer safety Matt Elam switched his commitment to Florida State last week. ESPN ranks Florida's class No. 1 in the country, while Scout.com has it at No. 4. Florida currently has 21 verbal commitments.
Florida's two early-game commitments, along with Easley's dominating performance, weren't the only future Gator highlights. Safety commit Jonathan Dowling set the tone for the Black team by taking an interception 56 yards to the end zone for the first score of the game. The Bradenton Southeast athlete then recorded another interception to set of the day's final touchdown.
Fellow safety commit Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson) recorded an interception and a fumble recovery Saturday.
Small in stature, but enormous in speed, Mobile, Ala., Murphy receiver commit Solomon Patton, who was fresh off a 50-yard touchdown reception in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, caught a 5-yard touchdown early to give the Black team a 12-0 lead.
Palmdale, Calif., cornerback commit Joshua Shaw, who recently reaffirmed his commitment to Florida, held his own on defense for the White team and showed terrific signs of athleticism in the return game. Cody Riggs, of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, also got some playing time at corner for the White team.
Other Gator commits in action were Lithonia, Ga., Martin Luther King Jr. running back Mack Brown (Black) and Fleming Island offensive lineman Ian Silberman (Black). New Port Richey Gulf defensive lineman Leon Orr was listed on the Black roster, but didn't play because of a broken left fibula he suffered during his regular season.
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