Progress Report: Defensive prospects

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Yesterday I brought you a look at some of the uncommitted offense prospects on Florida’s board. Today, I’ll throw out some some defensive recruits to keep an eye on. I also added guys who are considered athletes. While there is talent on the defensive side of the ball, don’t expect another haul like Florida had last year. That was just special.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE
Timmy Jernigan (Lake City Columbia) — He has the talent to be the top prospect in the country. He’s been considered a Florida lean for a long time, but the top programs are coming after him hard. Watch for Alabama and Florida State to get more into the picture the longer he puts off his commitment.

Joel Hale (Greenwood, Ind., Center Grove) — He just got his Florida offer a few weeks ago but hasn’t said yet if the Gators now lead for his services. After talking with him in March it’s hard to believe they aren’t, but it’s still early. Staying close to home isn’t a factor, and I think Georgia Tech is a school to really keep an eye on here. Still, Big Ten schools should be monitored.

Lonnie Gosha (Union County Lake Butler) —
Once committed to Florida State, Gosha grew up a Gators fan. He also has a nice relationship with Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney. Now that Gosha is back on the market, LSU and Georgia have gotten involved. Alabama is also a school to watch here.

DEFENSIVE END
Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, N.C.) — He committed to Florida during its spring game weekend and figures to be another of those extremely athletic ends that Florida covets. He said he’s done with recruiting but has numerous offers from many of the top programs in the country.

Curt Maggit (West Palm Beach Dwyer) — He’s another Dwyer prospect with Florida coming after him hard. He’s got a long list of offers and Florida is certainly in the running. Having a few ex-teammates in Gainesville certainly doesn’t hurt Florida’s chances.

Sterling Bailey (Gainesville, Ga., East Hall) — He’s another extremely talented end with a ton of offers. The early edge appears to go to Georgia, but the longer he keeps recruiting going, the more other schools are going to creep up. Expect Florida to be in it for Bailey.

Ryan Shazier (Plantation) — I saw him at one of Florida’s practices and he looks much bigger in person. His film shows that he’s got some tremendous speed as well. At 205 pounds, he’ll need to bulk up, but his weight hasn’t stopped the top schools from offering him. He could also play linebacker at the next level. He was in Gainesville a couple of times this spring.

Ray Drew (Thomasville, Ga., Thomasville County Central) — He could be one of the most coveted defensive lineman in the country this fall. He’s got a laundry list of offers and he’s making it fun by not revealing too much about his favorites. I imagine that Florida is up there, and Georgia and FSU appear to be in the thick of it as well. He’s a National Signing Day kind of guy.

Anthony Chickillo (Tampa Alonso) —
Florida has been in it from the beginning for Chickillo, and he’s getting a lot of attention from top schools. He could stand to gain a few pounds, but he’s explosive off the line and can keep up with the best of them. The big Florida schools are recruiting him hard, and he’ll try to visit out-of-state schools this summer.

LINEBACKER
Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, N.C., Anson) —
He recently told Rivals.com that Florida is his leader after visiting this spring. North Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech are also up there for Anthony. I’ll give Florida the advantage at this point.

James Vaughters (Tucker, Ga.) — He hasn’t had to really wait to get offers. He’s getting a ton of attention from major colleges, and Florida is certainly interested in him. He remains uncommitted and relatively quiet about recruiting, but it should pick up this summer once he starts attending camps.

Lateek Townsend (Bennettsville, S.C., Marlboro County) —
He made it to Gainesville for the spring game and came away very impressed. A lot of other schools are heavily pursuing him, but my thought is that if Florida really wants him, Florida can get him.

Dexter Staley (Williston, Ga., Elko) — Staley told Scout.com that Florida has the lead at this moment, even though he didn’t visit Florida this spring.  If he gets on campus this summer, it could be all but over for him. Then again, it’s still early and Florida can be picky this year. South Carolina and Miami are schools to watch as well.

A.J. Johnson (Gainesville, Ga.) — He was originally committed to Tennessee but changed his mind in January. Now, everyone wants him. Florida is making a huge push to get him, but reports are that Clemson is his favorite right now. The longer his recruiting goes on, the better chances I feel Florida has.

Tony Steward (St. Augustine Pedro Menendez) — I saw him work out at one of Florida’s camps last summer and he was one of the top defensive players out there as a rising junior. It’s no surprise that most colleges have offered. He also made a huge impression with his defensive MVP performance and the Gainesville Nike Camp. From what I’ve been told, FSU has a slight lead over Florida and Clemson.

Denzel Perryman (Coral Gables) —
While most expect Miami to be his top school, he’s stayed quiet about recruiting. He hasn’t released any sort of list, but living right next to UM has to give the Hurricanes a huge advantage. Florida’s big three are in the race.

CORNERBACK
De’Ante “Pop” Saunders (Deland) — He’s committed to Florida, but is getting some major attention from FSU. Still, when talking to him, he sounds like he’s a very solid commitment. He wants to play corner at Florida, but said he could also get some reps on offense.

Nick Waisome (Groveland South Lake) — When I saw him last summer he looked better than the seniors he was competing with. He’s got to be the top corner prospect on Florida’s board and he’s been to Gainesville enough to know where he would fit in with Florida’s defense. Florida State making a huge run at him and the Seminoles can’t be counted out.

Damian Swann (Atlanta Grady) —
He’s one of the most sought-after corners in the country, and while Florida isn’t hurting for corners, the Gators will get involved. Early on it seems that Georgia and Alabama might be in the lead.

SAFETY
Wayne Lyons (Ft. Lauderdale Dillard) — He recently got the Florida offer he’s been waiting for, and it all but put Florida in the driver’s seat. While I’m giving the Gators the edge, he is planning on making his decision during the U.S. All-American Bowl in January.

Malcolm Mitchell (Valdosta, Ga.) — He visited Florida, Alabama and Georgia this spring and is now starting to get attention from other big schools. LSU recently got into the picture. He’ll be an interesting prospect to monitor this season.

Erique Florence (Valley, Ala.) — Auburn and Alabama appear to be the early favorites, but Florida is certainly in the mix. This is another position where the Gators aren’t hurting, but getting extra bodies for depth is never a bad thing.


ATHLETE
James Wilder Jr. (Tampa Plant) — He’s arguably the top player on Florida’s board. He can play running back (which he prefers) or linebacker (which Florida prefers). He’s just too athletic not to go after and Miami and Florida have been his favorites. Both schools have switched spots at the top of his list, but now he says he’s open. Everyone will try to get involved, but it might depend on how much he wants to play running back in college because most schools like him at linebacker.

Chevelle Buie (Cocoa) — He reportedly just got a Florida offer, which was big for him. He considers himself an athlete who can take the ball out of the backfield like a Percy Harvin. He can run the ball or line up in the slot. He’s the type of athlete Florida coaches drool over.

Devon Blackmon (Fontana, Calif., Summit) — He’s a track star. A Wildcat quarterback. And a wide receiver. He’s got some sick moves on the field and he’s going to just continue to get attention from major programs. With Florida’s recent luck in California, Florida’s coaches will not be hesitant in going after him.

Kevin Grooms (Hollywood South Broward) — He’s a running back prospect who can move out and play other positions. He might translate to a cornerback in college. He’s got great speed and vision. Florida has offered and he’s a guy who could definitely be used in the return game.

Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif., Junipero Serra) —
He’s another California guy Florida is interested in. He can play on both sides of the ball, but will probably be a safety in college. The California schools are definitely in the picture, but he’s also got some interest in schools in the south.

6 COMMENTS

  1. James Wilder and Tim Jernigan will be the cornerstones of this recruiting class along with James Vaughters if he doesn’t decide to go west. We need to keep recruiting these monster D linemen and big physical linebackers if we want to “stem the Tide” so to speak. It’s gonna be another great recruiting year.

  2. It seems like you list a lot of prospects overall who have offers from Florida. With our limited number of scholarships for next year, are we close to our max if all were to accept? I know everyone we offer to won’t accept, but doesn’t it get dangerous offering too many scholarships this early before seeing what happens this year?