Florida’s 2009 recruiting class is in hand (for the most part), which means it’s time to grade UF’s class. Will it live up to Urban Meyer’s recent classes? Who was the biggest get? Who was the biggest loss? Overrated? Underrated? Follow me to all your answers.
Biggest get: Hands down this has to be Andre Debose. After losing all-world playmaker Percy Harvin to the NFL Draft, Debose was arguably one of the most explosive and exciting players in the country and he was priority No. 1 from the start. He doesn’t like to be compared to Harvin, but in all honesty, he’s the closest thing anyone will get to him for a while. If Harvin had the fastest first step in college football, then Debose had the fastest first step in high school.
Biggest loss: I have to pick two in this category. First, I’ll go with Trent Richardson. He was never a UF lock by any means, but you just couldn’t shake the feeling that somewhere inside him he wanted to test the waters at UF. He would have been the most physical running back the Gators would have had in a while, and he’s from the same high school as the greatest statistical NFL running back of all time, Emmitt Smith (Gator). He would have been a different kind of weapon for the Gators, but I guess they have Emmanuel Moody for that. – Nu’Keese Richardson is my 1A for this category. He’s a great playmaker, while undersized, and would have been a nice component to UF’s offense. But losing him to Lane Kiffin and Tennessee on Signing Day hurt UF as a whole. New, hot rod Kiffin comes in and just snatches Richardson away from the mighty recruiting guru that is Meyer (not to mention he wooed away Marsalis Teague as well). With Debose in the fold, losing Richardson wasn’t that costly, but this just hurts UF’s pride.
Most underrated/overrated: Underrated has to be Joshua Evans. He’s very athletic and while he tore up teams mostly on offense, what I’ve seen of him on defense is quite impressive. He holds down the free safety spot very well and has the speed to cover the entire backend of the secondary on his own. Overrated will have to be Mike Gillislee. He didn’t have a stellar senior year and from what I’ve seen, he doesn’t look to be all that fast for an elite back. He’s got the height and some strength, but I don’t see him taking reps away from UF’s current backfield.
Should have taken the chance on: Zeke Motta was a guy who over the summer looked to be someone Meyer and his staff was willing to go after. The Vero Beach safety/linebacker wasn’t a high-profile guy at the time, but showed the he had the speed to play the strong safety position and was thick and strong enough to play linebacker. At UF’s camp he even took reps at tight end. He was offered, but the Gators never really put much focus on him and he committed to Notre Dame and is enrolled early. He finished his senior year with 134 total tackles (eight for loss), three sacks and two interceptions.
Never had a chance: Dre Kirkpatrick would have been Meyer’s biggest pickup in the secondary since he’s been at UF, but the Gadsden City cornerback was never headed to UF. He visited, but later told the New York Times that he was never fond of UF’s living quarters. He was in Alabama’s hand the entire time and didn’t even have a UF cap to toss out during his announcement.
Biggest impact: Debose is a guy who will come in and get reps immediately. He’s just too athletic and too good not to work his way in to the regular rotation over the summer. He’ll attempt to pick up right where Harvin left off – whether he likes it or not.
UF’s class was about quality, not quantity. There’s still a spot open for Tampa Plant tight end Orson Charles, but this class is solid with or without him. Needs were met and this could be one of the top offensive line classes in a while. Not to mention the fact that UF got one of the top playmakers (Debose), defensive linemen (Gary Brown) and linebackers (Jelani Jenkins).