Gators land two ESPN300 members


Published: Thursday, December 12, 2013 at 12:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, December 13, 2013 at 1:16 p.m.

With Florida’s issues in pass protection this season and the loss of three seniors, the offensive line is one of the biggest priorities for the Gators in the 2014 recruiting cycle.

The Gators helped meet those needs in a major way Thursday by landing Jacksonville Providence offensive tackle David Sharpe, who has been the top overall target on UF’s board for months.

Florida also picked up a pledge from Perry Taylor County’s Moral Stephens, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound receiver who is being recruited by Florida as a tight end.

The 6-foot-6, 288-pound Sharpe chose the Gators over Tennessee. He also received interest from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and LSU.

He made six trips to Gainesville during his recruiting process and built a strong relationship with the UF coaches.

“They’ve been there from the start. So just keeping that relationship with them from day one, I know I’m going to be comfortable there for my four years,” Sharpe said during his radio announcement on 1010 XL in Jacksonville.

ESPN ranks Sharpe as the No. 18 prospect in the nation and No. 2 at his position. He’s also rated a five-star recruit by 247Sports, while Rivals and Scout have him as a four-star player.

Sharpe’s father, David Sr., said his son’s decision was based on one factor.

“Early playing time, that’s really all it is,” he said. “David is a great athlete. He wants to play and he thinks he can at Florida. And obviously they’ll offer him a good degree for whatever he decides to take up in school.”

Stephens got an offer from UF coach Will Muschamp over the phone Thursday morning and committed on the spot, revealing his decision on social media.

He was a standout at one of Florida’s summer camp sessions in June and attended the Vanderbilt game last month. Stephens held more than a dozen offers from other schools, including Florida State, Miami, LSU and Ohio State.

UF now has 18 verbal commitments and 11 members from the ESPN300 with the additions of Sharpe and Stephens. The Gators currently have 22 scholarships available for their 2014 class.

Verbal commitments are not binding until prospects sign their national letters of intent Feb. 5.

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