Gators hope to make most of final recruiting weekend
Published: Friday, January 28, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 at 6:06 p.m.
This is Florida's last stand. It's the last weekend of schmoozing.
Today marks the beginning of the final recruiting weekend in college football before National Signing Day (Wednesday). Prospects from all around the country will be making their final official and unofficial visits to colleges they are either committed to or considering.
In Gainesville, new Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff will host a small number of visitors. As of Thursday, Florida had four confirmed official visitors. The Gators were originally supposed to host five, but Warner Robins, Ga., Houston County defensive end Trey Grissett, who is committed to UAB, told Rivals.com he would no longer visit.
The four who will be on campus include three defensive ends — Jermauria Rasco (Shreveport, La., Evangel Christian), Curt Maggitt (Palm Beach Gardens) and Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek North Broward) — and junior college defensive tackle John Jenkins (Perkinston, Miss., Gulf Coast C.C.).
Rasco seems to be generating the most excitement with Florida after jumping on board when Muschamp was hired in December. Evangel Christian coach Phillip Deas said Muschamp recruited Rasco hard when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas and hasn't stopped since his move to Gainesville.
"Coach Muschamp has been recruiting him for the last three years," Deas said. "There hasn't been a coach, definitely not a head coach, that's been on our campus more than Coach Muschamp has over the last three years. He's built up a great relationship with Jermauria and he's put together a great staff there, which has really, really impressed him."
Rasco's recruitment is picking up. He officially visited LSU last weekend and was visited by UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and Texas coaches this week.
While Florida has emerged as one of his favorites, Deas said LSU will be tough for any school to beat. But he assured that Rasco remains open and that LSU, Florida, Florida State and UCLA are all even.
This will be Rasco's first trip to Gainesville, and Deas said his four-star end is "very excited" about it.
"He's really looking forward to it," he said. "That was really a Muschamp deal. Florida wasn't even in the picture until a month ago. Muschamp gets the job and, boom, now he's thinking about going to Florida.
"I think he's going to enjoy it."
As for the other visitors, Maggitt, who has had Florida as one of his leaders for a while, could be Florida's best bet for a defensive end commitment. Maggitt has been to Gainesville multiple times and could decide after signing day with teammate Jacoby Brissett, a quarterback who is also being heavily recruited by Florida.
Georgia appears to be the team to beat for Jenkins' services, but he's told multiple media outlets that he remains even. At 6-foot-4, 340 pounds, Jenkins would be a major addition to Florida's nose tackle spot.
Westbrook received a late offer from Florida and is also considering Connecticut, South Florida, North Carolina and Purdue. Rivals.com rates him as a three-star prospect.
Florida hasn't had much recruiting excitement in 2011, but ESPN recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg said that with a coaching transition that should be expected. With the prospects coming in, this weekend could go a long way to rounding out Florida's class and could add some excitement to signing day, Newberg said.
"They could be an interesting team next week," he said. "They could do unbelievably well and make a humongous splash, which would give them great momentum going into next year, but they're going to miss on a few and some people are going to be disappointed."
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