UF no strangers to recruiting battles
Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 at 9:32 p.m.
Over the years, Florida has been involved in several dramatic recruiting battles that have come down to the wire.
There's one brewing in the 2014 recruiting cycle with Miami Central running back Dalvin Cook.
The early enrollee currently is committed to UF but will announce a final decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2. Florida, Florida State and Miami are his finalists.
Here's a look back at 10 recruitments that went for and against the Gators.
2003: Dee Webb, Jacksonville Ed White
Rivals.com ranking: No. 2 cornerback, No. 12 nationally
Webb grew up a Miami fan but favored Florida at the start of his process. The Hurricanes took a strong lead following his official visit in late December. But Webb went with the Gators a month later in a surprise decision. He was a first-team All-SEC selection in 2005 and has played eight years professionally, including two in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
2007: Jerimy Finch, Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central
Rivals.com ranking: No. 1 safety, No. 37 nationally
Finch chose Michigan over in-state Indiana in the spring of his junior year. He then changed his commitment after an official visit with the Hoosiers in mid-January. Two weeks later, however, Finch took a trip to Florida and flipped to the Gators on signing day. He transferred to Indiana after a season at UF and left the Hoosiers football program in 2010.
2010: Matt Elam, West Palm Beach Dwyer
Rivals.com ranking: No. 2 safety, No. 25 nationally
Elam committed to Florida during his junior season and remained solid until Urban Meyer temporarily resigned on Dec. 26, 2009. Elam flipped to Florida State five days later. But after a long talk with Meyer, Elam decommitted from FSU and announced for UF at the Army All-American Bowl. A first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, he's a rookie starter for the Baltimore Ravens.
2012: Dante Fowler Jr., St. Petersburg Lakewood
Rivals.com ranking: No. 3 weakside defensive end, No. 28 nationally
Fowler was a lifelong Florida State fan and picked his dream school after his junior season. But that summer, he made what would be his first of seven visits to Gainesville. Although Fowler claimed to be committed to the Seminoles throughout the process, Florida flipped him on signing day. He was named to the All-SEC Second Team this past season.
2013: Demarcus Robinson, Fort Valley (Ga.) Peach County
Rivals.com ranking: No. 5 receiver, No. 52 nationally
After a five-month commitment to Clemson, Robinson flipped to Florida during an in-home visit in December. Less than a week after switching his pledge, he changed back to Clemson. Robinson then said he was uncommitted at the Army All-American Bowl check-in. Following the game, he called the Tigers his leader but enrolled at UF two days later. Robinson caught five passes as a freshman and was suspended a total of three games.
2003: Antonio Cromartie, Tallahassee Lincoln
Rivals.com ranking: No. 6 cornerback, No. 40 nationally
UF led early on, due in large part to his cousin, Robert Cromartie, and former high school teammate, Gavin Dickey, being there. He decided on the Gators after his official visit in January, but pushed back his announcement so he could do it on ESPN. However, he took a late trip to FSU and picked the 'Noles on signing day. A first-round draft pick in 2006, Cromartie has had an eight-year NFL career.
2006: C.J. Spiller, Lake Butler Union County
Rivals.com ranking: No. 1 running back, No. 8 nationally
UF and FSU were co-leaders at first, then Southern Cal jumped them. Florida's closeness to home and highly ranked class, which included Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, were factors many thought would win out in the end. But Spiller shocked the recruiting world by choosing Clemson on signing day. The 2010 Buffalo Bills first-round pick was selected to the Pro Bowl last season.
2008: Ramon Buchanan, Melbourne Palm Bay
Rivals.com ranking: No. 2 safety, No. 61 nationally
Buchanan named Florida his leader in June of 2007 but committed to Miami a month later. While on his official visit to UF in mid-January, he flipped to the Gators. But after a trip to UM two weeks later, Buchanan announced for the Hurricanes on signing day. He went undrafted this past April and signed with Seattle. He was released a few weeks afterward.
2009: Nu'Keese Richardson, Pahokee
Rivals.com ranking: No. 9 wide receiver, No. 68 nationally
Richardson had been firmly committed to UF for eight months, but Lane Kiffin convinced him to officially visit Tennessee the last weekend in January. Kiffin flipped him on signing day and then accused UF of cheating, a claim later refuted. Richardson was dismissed by Kiffin during his freshman year and has bounced around at non-FBS schools in Kansas, Kentucky and Virginia.
2013: Tashawn Bower, Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata
Rivals.com ranking: No. 14 weakside defensive end, NR nationally
Bower made a summer pledge to the Auburn Tigers, but their 3-9 season caused him to take official visits to Florida, Florida State and LSU. The night before signing day, he committed to Will Muschamp over the phone. But when reports surfaced the next morning that he was UF bound, he signed with LSU instead. Bower played in six games as a freshman, recording three tackles.