Weekend’s visitors still high on Florida

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This past weekend wasn’t the ideal time for Florida to be hosting recruits, but the majority of visitors still expressed interest in UF following their trips.

In addition to flipping Ryan Sousa from Florida State, the Gators put themselves in good position with receiver Eric Lauderdale of Mission Viejo (Calif.) Saddleback Community College.

“I enjoyed my weekend, and I felt at home,” said Lauderdale, a Georgia native. “I’ve been saying all along that Florida is just missing pieces, and I saw it for myself during the game. The loss didn’t bother me. I saw an opportunity to get on the field.”

Lakeland Kathleen athlete and Virginia Tech verbal Javon Harrison visited Florida for the third time this year. He doesn’t see himself changing his commitment to the Gators, but it’s not because of their losing record.

“Every team has a bad season,” Harrison said. “I’m just not into them like that.”

The most important prospect on campus was Jacksonville Providence offensive tackle David Sharpe, who plans to make his decision sometime this week. His father, David Sr., said the results of 2013 have no bearing on how his son views UF.

“Not at all,” he said. “David knows he has a chance to play there right away, and that’s what he really cares about.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Florida received visits from three of its biggest targets for the class of 2015.

Glen Saint Mary Baker County defensive end CeCe Jefferson, who named UF his leader in the summer, hasn’t lost any interest in the Gators.

“Heck no, none at all,” Jefferson said. “For one, it’s close to home. Two, I know the coaches here are great coaches. And (three), injuries man. Injuries were the downfall of this season. When you lose a guy like Dominique Easley, you can’t just look down your roster and replace that.”

“(Criticism of Will Muschamp) really didn’t matter to me. I know coach Muschamp is a great guy and he’s an even better coach. I think (UF athletic director Jeremy Foley) is on the same page as I am. He sees that without the injuries things would have been different. That’s why he’s standing behind him. The recruiting class I believe is going to be pretty good next year, and they’re going to get back on track.”

Jacksonville Trinity Christian linebacker Jeff Holland liked what he saw from Florida early on against FSU.

“They did good in the first half,” he said. “I respect Florida for that because of everyone that’s injured. I’m not down on them. I know they got a lot of players hurt, so it is what it is.”

Albany (Ga.) Westover defensive tackle Trenton Thompson called UF his No. 2 school at Friday Night Lights, but had since removed the Gators from his list of favorites. His return trip to Gainesville may have changed that.

“I still think highly of the program because I know they need help on the defensive line, and I know I could be a big part of their defense,” Thompson said. “Me getting back down there actually them out. I’m warming up to Florida again.”

With Sousa’s commitment, half of the 2014 class members were on hand for UF on Saturday. One of them was Mount Pleasant (S.C.) Wando offensive guard Nolan Kelleher, who will enroll early at Florida in January.

“I think we are going to be a lot better next year, that’s for sure,” he said. “It was a great team this year, but when it rains it pours. Next year is going to be an unbelievable team. Some of the freshmen coming back are just unbelievable players and athletes. I feel confident about it.”

15 COMMENTS

  1. The Ryan Sousa flip really did a lot for me as a fan to calm me down and get my head back on straight. It made me realize the recruits still believe in this program. They still believe in where this team is headed enough to want to be here more than any other school, even if that school is undefeated and playing for a national title and just beat us by 30. There’s still something to believe in. One terrible season is not the end of the world. The Gators will be back very very soon and we’ll be better than ever. It’s a message I think a lot of Gator fans need to hear right now. Calm down and get ready. We will be just fine.

  2. “Heck no, none at all,” Jefferson said. “For one, it’s close to home. Two, I know the coaches here are great coaches. And (three), injuries man. Injuries were the downfall of this season. When you lose a guy like Dominique Easley, you can’t just look down your roster and replace that.”

    Amazing how high school layers can have more insight than many grown fans and grads. JS

  3. It’s very refreshing to read the continued interest recruits still have in UF despite our circumstances. Our brand is bigger than our record or any individual and THAT is what recruits are recognizing. Foley has made it very clear to Muschamp that he has to fix his offense immediately. The OC/OL hiring is a VERY BIG DEAL. We all see the names being mentioned and honestly some have me shaking my head. I should mention I read the article regarding T. Burton being injured and how the game plan consequently was then ‘out the window’ and I wonder about our decision making (again). Question: After all our injuries, why wouldn’t we prepare several players to execute those plays? Not only is there a high probability of injury, but FATIGUE is even more likely! ANYWAYS, my point: We all have varying opinions so I am asking, if you were Will Muschamp, who would you trust to cure this infection? Or better yet, what’s your view on Bobby Petrino? He would be my #1 target! Let me know what you guys think. Go Gators!

  4. We also need to re-establish that off season competitive environment. Remember Mickey Marotti having players flipping truck tires and psycho stuff like that? The players all said that the off season prepared them for the season and attributed their championship play to the day-to-day competitive nature of the fitness and conditioning program. They said game day was a relief- and fun.

  5. I think promoting Joker makes the most sense. I mean if you can get someone you think would be better to come go ahead, but that OC job can’t look the best for an outsider. You have a lot of work to do and only 1 year to do it or the whole coaching staff will be gone. Not very appealing. Joker is already in the program so he has absolutely nothing to lose from being promoted. And it’s not like we’d be settling. He has done a great job with our receivers and he has both OC and head coaching experience. Remember when he was the OC at UK he had even UK putting up good numbers. He knows what he’s doing, is already familiar with the players, and will not be scared off by the short time line. It just makes sense.

  6. TJ I agree, the OC job is a big risk for an outsider and will be a tough sell. Remember, this is ‘do (IMMEDIATELY) or DIE!’ for Muschamp and I don’t think Joker makes him feel he can undoubtedly cure this problem on his own – RIGHT NOW, otherwise he would have been promoted during the season (IMO). Ideally you would want a new HC to bring the ‘sense of change’ and Joker, nothing against him or his coaching ability would be lacking because after a full year, the players are familiar with him. I do believe he would be the choice if we promote from within…sounds like Muschamp has his guy and we’ll have to wait til after the bowl games (or family vactions in Petrion’s and OL coach Callaway’s case). Go Gators!