Key weekend for UF football recruiting


Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 10:45 p.m.

National Signing Day is less than two weeks away, but Florida head coach Will Muschamp still has a lot of work to do on the recruiting trail.

Facts

Busy weekend

Here's the 10 official visitors expected in this weekend:

*RB Matt Jones, Seffner, Fla./Armwood (UF commit)
*WR Stefon Diggs, Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel
*WR Avery Johnson, Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanche Ely (LSU commit)
*TE Colin Thompson, Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood Catholic (UF commit)
*DT Jafar Mann, Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson (UF commit)
*DE Alex McCalister, Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth
*DE Bryan Cox Jr., Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas
*DE/LB Dante Fowler Jr., St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood (FSU commit)
*CB Tracy Howard, Miramar, Fla./Miramar
*CB Brian Poole, Bradenton, Fla./Southeast (UF commit)

The Gators only have 18 commitments in the 2012 class and need to add at least seven more before prospects put pen to paper on Feb. 1. Signing 25 would give Muschamp a full class and provide some much-needed depth to his depleted roster of just 57 scholarship players.

With 10 official visitors heading to Gainesville on Friday, this weekend has the potential to be UF's most important of the recruiting season.

Four of those visitors — RB Matt Jones (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), TE Colin Thompson (Warminster, Pa./Archbishop Wood Catholic), DT Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson) and CB Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) — are Florida commitments and will have their recruiting caps on for the coaching staff.

“Coach Muschamp already told me I better be ready to recruit when I get down there,” Mann said. “I'm good at it. I'll give them some Southern hospitality.”

Receiving the warm welcome will be wideouts Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) and Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Blanche Ely); defensive ends Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood), Alex McCalister (Clemmons, N.C./West Forsyth) and Bryan Cox Jr. (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas); and five-star cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar).

The Gators are also getting an unofficial visit from five-star WR Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep), who took an official to UF on Dec. 9. Agholor and Diggs are ranked the No. 2 and No. 3 receivers nationally by Rivals.com and are both believed to be favoring Florida.

After taking his first two officials to Cal and Auburn alone, Diggs will be accompanied in Gainesville by his mother, stepfather and mentor, Our Lady of Good Counsel assistant coach Will Flaherty. With his SAT scheduled for next weekend, this will be the final visit for the five-star receiver. It's also the last trip for Johnson, who has been committed to LSU since September 2010 and is the brother of former Tiger cornerback Patrick Peterson.

Howard is the nation's No. 1 cornerback, according to Rivals.com, and his finalists are Florida and LSU. With a visit to Baton Rouge set for next weekend, this will be Howard's last time seeing The Swamp.

“We've been to Florida so much, but the official visits are a little different,” said Tracy's mother, Shaiy Howard. “You get to interact with players and staff more and see some behind-the-scenes stuff that can't do on an unofficial visit. So we're very excited.”

Fowler is the fourth five-star that will be on hand, and it is Florida's final attempt to sway the longtime FSU commitment.

“I'm just looking forward to having a good time with the coaches, hanging out with some of the players and seeing what else they have to offer,” Fowler said.

The Gators recently targeted McCalister and Cox, who are both rated three-star defensive ends. McCalister will announce his college decision Monday between Florida and Georgia Tech, while Cox hopes to pull the trigger for UF this weekend.

“Florida offered a few kids before me,” said Cox, whose father, Bryan Sr., played 12 seasons in the NFL, “so they had to wait and see how things panned out before they could officially offer me. If that happens, I'm going to commit.”

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