And the plot thickens.
Just when it seemed that Florida’s staff was comfortable with its situation at quarterback, an offer drops.
But before we get into that, let’s look at what’s happened so far. Florida offered Venice quarterback Trey Burton last year and since then, he’s been one of the most improved players in the state. He went from being one of the most underrated prospects to being the biggest recruiter for the Gators outside of the staff itself. Burton said he mans the phone lines and texts almost every day of the week, trying to get some of the top talent around to join him in the Gator Nation.
Recently, Burton has taken some criticism as a quarterback. Rivals.com rated him as a four-star quarterback when its first rankings of 2009 came out. In its most recent rankings, Burton was dropped down to a three-star athlete. He wasn’t even listed as a quarterback.
When I spoke with Burton the other night, I asked him how he felt about his drop in the Rivals rankings and he had some mixed emotions about his current status.
“If you look at some players in college, it didn’t matter what their rankings were coming out of high school. They either did better or worse than their rankings,” Burton said. “I’m not really worried with what they have to say.”
So, he’s a little bitter about it, and Burton made it clear that he’s been working extra hard this spring to improve his passing skill above everything else. Speed certainly isn’t an issue – Burton is a part of his high school relay team and sometimes participates in the 100.
Before Burton fell out of favor with Rivals, the Gators were expected to add another quarterback prospect in Columbus, Ga., Hardaway athlete Marcus Smith. Smith said he was going to commit but was told by the staff that they wanted to see him perform this summer before they accepted a commitment.
The Gators then offered Iowa City, Iowa quarterback A.J. Derby and could still be in the running for Memphis University School’s Barry Brunetti.
But now comes the really interesting part. Friday, Rivals broke the news that Lakewood, Calif., quarterback Jesse Scroggins was offered by Florida.
Rivals ranks Scroggins as a four-star prospect and the sixth-best pro-style quarterback of 2010.
Scroggins’ head coach Thadd MacNeal told Rivals that UF quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler visited this week and came away more than impressed with the 6-foot-3, 195-pound passer.
“(Loeffler) said he’s everything they thought he was on tape and more, and they think he’s the best guy in the country and they’re going to go after him,” MacNeal said.
Pretty strong words considering Burton was one of Florida’s first commitments and has been under the impression that the Gators weren’t going to consider any other quarterbacks this year.
After watching both guys on film, Burton and Scroggins are both very talented athletes and both do things a little better than the other. Burton is a much better runner and challenges defenses with his arm and his feet. His throwing ability is a bit raw, considering he was a running back for most of his life. With some work this summer, he will be even more dangerous under center.
Scroggins, however, has a big-time arm. He’s not the runner that Burton is and probably won’t be, but he rarely underthrows his guys. Scroggins leads his receivers nearly perfectly and still has some zip on the ball when he throws on the run. His awareness is also quite impressive, and he doesn’t seem to panic when the blitz comes.
It’s still too early to tell what will happen with Scroggins and if it will even affect Burton at all. But it will be interesting to see if Scroggins decides to commit to the Gators and how Burton would take the news. Burton has always said he doesn’t fear competition, but you have to wonder what’s going on psychologically for a kid who has thought from day one that he’s the top guy at the most important position on the field.