Breaking down Florida’s early enrollees

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Now that the spring semester has officially started at Florida, the Gators will be saying hello to seven early enrollees. Having commits graduate from high school earlier has become very popular in college football and for good reason. It never hurts to get the talent on campus early and put these kids through the rigors of college football training early.

Sure, proms are missed, but players are getting a leg up on the competition and are getting into those playbooks much earlier. Plus, they can start the college workout plan months in advance.

For Florida’s early enrollees, they’ll have a chance to join a team starting over with new coach Will Muschamp. These guys probably won’t be in line to be major starters, but the first impression is always the most important.

Here are Florida’s seven early enrollees for the 2011 recruiting class. Ridgefield, Conn., offensive lineman Tommy Jordan was on campus for a few days last week, but decided to return home. He still could enroll at UF this summer.

QB Jeff Driskel — He is probably the most important recruit Florida needed to get on campus. With the quarterback situation in Gainesville, the more he studies the better for him and the program. He’s the quarterback of the future and could be the QB of the present if John Brantley decides to skip town. Fortunately for Driskel, it looks as if Brantley will stick around for his senior year, but Driskel should definitely see playing time this fall. He’ll need to work more on his decision-making, so these next few months will be very beneficial. However, getting on campus early will only build more hype in Gators fans, who will get to see their first real glimpse of him in April’s spring game.

RB Mike Blakely — Blakely’s arrival is also crucial for Florida’s depth. It’s unknown if Chris Rainey will stay at running back. We haven’t seen that much from Mike Gillislee, and we know very little about Mack Brown. Jeff Demps will be running track — if his injured foot allows. Blakely is a guy who can play running back, but has the hands to play in the slot. He might be a little undersized, but he’s a strong runner. He also has a pretty good arm (he played quarterback as a freshman at Bradenton Manatee) and could be a wildcat guy. Getting to Gainesville early means he can get on an eating and lifting plan that should pack on some much-needed muscle.

WR Javares McRoy — He might have been more of a slot receiver in high school, but he has the speed to be a deep threat at the next level. He’ll need to gain some size, and that’s what the spring will be for. He’s still going to need some time to adjust to the college game, so getting a head start certainly benefits him. Even with the extra time, I don’t expect McRoy to contribute too much early, but he’s got the potential to be a play-maker once he gets a little bigger.

TE A.C. Leonard — Florida needs help at tight end, and Leonard looks to be physically ready to contribute. With Florida moving to a more pro-style offense, he could be a guy who plays early if the Gators run more of the two tight end formations. Watching him at Under Armour practices last week, he’s got the tools to be a big-time player at Florida, but he’ll need to go through the development process, as well. He’s got good speed for a tight end and didn’t drop many passes last week. I think he’ll be a factor early for Florida.

DE/LB Clay Burton — Burton said Muschamp is interested in using him at defensive end, where Florida will need a couple more bodies at this fall. Burton is certainly an athlete, and if he’s anything like his brother, Trey, he’ll be an absolute workhorse. He’ll need some time to develop, so his early arrival is a good thing. Plus, I’m sure he’s glad to be reuniting with his brother.

CB De’Ante “Pop” Saunders — With Janoris Jenkins returning for this senior year (didn’t someone report he was definitely declaring for the NFL Draft last week?), getting a corner in this spring wasn’t a huge deal, but Saunders’ arrival will still help. He’s a great athlete and showed during Under Armour practices that he could be an asset in the return game. He might not be as natural a corner as some of Florida’s current players, but he’ll learn this spring. It never hurts to get these “athletes” on campus during the spring and have them start the development process at their position early.

K Kyle Christy — There’s no Chas Henry, so there’s no scholarship punter at Florida outside of Christy. Finding a punter in the spring isn’t the biggest priority, but if Christy is as good as he was in high school, he’ll have the job the moment he gets fitted for his practice jersey. Besides improving his cannon for a leg, Christy’s time will be used to learn about the tremendous speed on special teams at the next level. The first day of punt block drills should cause his eyes to grow to saucer size.

27 COMMENTS

  1. Good move Driskel being on campus now. Become the leader you are…at this next level. Recruit like crazy. You have the opportunity of a lifetime. Its great to be a Florida Gator! Welcome.

    And likewise to all the other new guys.

  2. Hey Ed, Since Jordan and Hounshell are not enrolling early and thinking about their options, is the coaching staff looking at other o-line recruits to take their spots?? We can’t afford to wait for them and miss out on other quality lineman. Thanks

  3. I hope Brantley will transfer. I think his confidence is shot and the fans confidence in him is shot. He would be better off getting a fressh start somewhere else that wont judge him from all he have done so far.

    Right now I see/hope our next QB will be Jordon Reed or Driskell

    jas

  4. Hey Edward, do you ever have a question and answer Column or ever host a radio question and answer segment? I’m sure there must be some news on our new coaches, what they are up to and has Charlie Weis started talking to Recruits?

  5. Ed,here’s my take A.C. Leonard,u keep sayin we need help at t-end,but do we not have 2 much depth at t-end,Jordan Reed is not gonna play qb 4 ch. weis/4*Desmond Parks should b healthy now/Michael McFarland nice speed good hands just needed 2 add lbs./Gerald Christian #1 t-end last yr.is also on the gators roster.So um expecting (Leonard) 2 come n and just blow us away.

  6. MONEY – Here are my thoughts on TE – No one is proven. Reed didn’t do anything as a TE when he was in. Christian couldn’t even crack the lineup. I’ve seen Desmond Parks and Michael McFarland play and both have A LOT of ground to make up both physically and skill-wise. I still think both have been risky signs by UF. TE is wide open, so Leonard could make an instant impact. He’s very athletic and should counter a guy like Christian. None of those TEs have done anything, so why can’t Leonard come in and contribute early?

  7. The entire year I seen Brantley fail to read coverage’s and throw lazy piss poor passes. I feel that he knew that there wasn’t anyone to take his job so he just went out there for the heck of it. Watching Driskel @ the UA Game he played better than I could ever imagine… He will come in and push Brantley for time. Ala Tim Tebow’s freshman year. I hear Burton is moving to Defense and Reed back to TE. Nothing confirmed but sounds like Brantley / Driskel 1 & 2.

  8. 3 uthr gud Q’s 2. Y skipt, Ed?
    Btw, thz nt twittr. OK 2 uz >140 char. 4 post.
    XS abrev nt necsry. K?
    Thnx.
    C U L8r G8r!
    ————
    It(I)s Great To Be A Gator!
    Ciao
    (four:forty-six, ante meridiem, Eastern Time)

  9. If you ask me forget Brantley at QB…let Trey Burton play slot reciever/TE/and some back feild (for those dump passes) Reed should be the QB until JD is ready… BUT Charlie W loves pocket passers so he’s gonna have to earn his money and develop these QB’s. Honestly I think with our talent level we should have won at least 2 more games last season but forget it let’s get ready to whip FSU and play in the ATL for the SEC ship!

  10. Hey quickenedspirit, can you lose the constant flood of acronyms in every one of your comments? We all know it’s great to be a Gator…and don’t need a reminder every post. Let’s all focus on content, not flare, please.

  11. Any word on who and what positions Muschamp and Weis are focusing on in recruiting. I would think they would be looking at different players than Meyer looked at because of the different offenses and defenses they will want to run.

  12. Ed, same question as John. What’s up w Tyler Murphy? Is he simply going to always be a backup? I think Brantley’s problems go beyond just being in the wrong system. Weiss supposedly has one of those gruff personalities. Could Brantley decide to transfer after spring ball? if so does Murphy shown any ability to actually play at this level. If not, then why did Meyer recruit him in the first place?

  13. I agree that Kyle will likely need to learn and adjust to the speed at this new level. As a punter/kicker he has huge shoes to fill but his family knows he’ll give Gator fans all he’s got, week in and week out! Remember, he really only “learned” how to punt less than a year ago and averaged 42+ his senior year in HS. BTW, he did also hit field goals from 55 at camp.

  14. We watch Murhpy at every game during warm ups. We think he has great potential as well as a great arm. We wish they would have given him some game time. He couldn’t possibly do any worse than Brantley did all season.

  15. SORRY,BUT AFTER LAST YEARS DEBACLE,I believe the ole ball coach more and more.We’ll see how they are in 2 years after we coach ’em up.Recruiting gospel????? 2010 see Florida,Georgia,Texas, even Alabama.Always top 10 in recruitring?What happened, bad coaching and less skill then predicted.

  16. If Brantley can mentally let go of last year’s mess, he’ll be the starting QB on week 1. Driskel will push him, but we won’t see him play much unless Brantley struggles. Reed has stated many times he doesn’t want to be the QB, so he will probably be moved to TE more than likely. Murphy was never a serious consideration to start. He was recruited to add another QB to the roster. 2/3 of QB never see the field at this level, but you must have 3 on the rosster and a 4th option, god forbid, if it came to that. If you just went out and signed highly recruited studs to play QB, you would never have more than 2 on campus at any one time – unless your Georgia where you have three good QBs who complain and threaten to transfer because they’re not playing.

  17. Brantley deserves a shot after a spring/summer learning under Weiss – but he should be on a very short leash. If Driskel is ready, play him early so he can his feet wet and be ready to bail out 12 if he reverts to ’10 form…