It’s open season now

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With the end of the regular season comes the heart of recruiting season.

Florida doesn’t have to worry about being game ready for the next few weeks, so the coaches will take the opportunity to get out and visit top prospects and bring in the big fish for official visits. With no games left in The Swamp, bringing in top talent and actually getting to spend a significant amount of time with these prospects will be much easier.

Winning the SEC title and getting a bid to the BCS National Championship definitely doesn’t hurt the Gators either. Florida has a massive amount of momentum heading into the two biggest months of recruiting.

“I know if I was a recruit where I’d go,” UF coach Urban Meyer said Sunday at the team’s BCS selection celebration. “I’m going to go get a great education and play for championships. For the (Tim) Tebows of the world, (Percy) Harvins of the world and Spikes of the world they want to go play for championships. They want to go play in a conference championship with 85,000 people and another 30-40,000 trying to get in there.”

UF’s coaches didn’t waste any time getting in touch with prospects this weekend. Columbus, Ga., Carver linebacker Jarvis Jones got a visit from a couple of UF coaches after the Gators’ win over Alabama. The Rivals.com four-star prospect has said for a while that the Gators have been right near the top of his list, and it looks like this one will come down to a battle between UF and Texas. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is familiar with that area of Georgia with his brother coaching at a high school there, and Will Muschamp was Auburn’s defensive coordinator a year ago.

Atlanta, Washington High cornerback Branden Smith also got a visit from UF coaches over the weekend. He’s rated as a five-star prospect and the third-best corner in the country by Rivals. Smith was on the UF campus for an official in early October but could still make it down to Gainesville for an unofficial between now and when he makes is announcement at the Under Armour All-America Game in January. He’s down to UF, Auburn, FSU and Georgia.

While I didn’t see or talk to him, I spoke with a writer in the pressbox Saturday who said he talked with Pensacola, Escambia running back Trent Richardson at the game. He didn’t discuss much of what was said (they didn’t really talk about recruiting), but if Richardson was in fact at the game he got to see the obvious difference in the two running games. It’s not surprising that he’s committed to the Tide. Alabama’s running game fits him far better than UF’s. He’s a tough, downhill runner who would look great in the Tide’s hardnosed, physical and pounding offense. The thing going for UF is that it leads the SEC in rushing and Meyer is going to go with the guy that works hardest, and Richardson certainly could be that guy.

Even with UF’s win, I still like the Tide to hold on to him, but if he gets on campus and gets a lot of time with Meyer and running backs coach Kenny Carter, anything could happen. However, seeing Emmanuel Moody only running the ball at the end of every game definitely doesn’t help.

Excluding Meyer’s first recruiting class, UF has had 49 total official visitors in the months of December and January. Of those 49 visits, the Gators got commitments (that stuck) from 15 prospects in those two months.

Meyer started some campaigning for his school Sunday as he gets ready to contact prospects like crazy over the next couple months.

“If you’re a real football player and you want to play at the highest level, you’re going to take a look at the University of Florida,” he said.