Friday Night Lights is only a few hours away, and while I’m sure most of you feel like little kids on Christmas and just can’t stand the wait to watch some premiere high school ballers show their stuff tonight in The Swamp, Santa is coming earlier for you.
Here are the Top 5 storylines to keep an eye on at FNL …
1. Who’s going to commit?
Well, rumors have been pouring in of late about some sort of commitment happening tonight. Will it be receiver Chris Dunkley? Receiver James Louis was passed up earlier, will he now get his one-on-one with Urban Meyer and commit? I heard that if Markeith Ambles can prove his attitude has changed to Meyer than he’ll get to commit. Is that true? And what about that defensive end from New York, Dominique Easley? Won’t he commit? The answer to all of these is that there’s a high chance the Gators get at least one of these guys before the weekend is over. Easley is highly interested in the Gators, but I have the feeling that he’s still looking around. However, if he were to get it over with now I wouldn’t be surprised. Dunkley said recently he’s still waiting for the time to be right … under the lights might be it, but it might be too right for Gator fans, so don’t get too bent out of shape if he decides to wait longer. I’m going to go with Louis. Running back Mack Brown would be a big one now, but he is too into both UF and UGA at the moment, and I think he waits. Louis is a now kind of guy, and if things go well with Meyer he’ll be a Gator be weekend’s end. Not putting any money on Ambles.
2. Do the top guys show?
Every year some high-profile kids say they’re headed to Florida for FNL, and every year someone backs out. No Darrell Scott two years ago. No Ryne Giddins last year or Andre Debose (though he did commit to Florida). Bryce Brown and his older brother Arthur skipped out a couple of years ago as well. It happens and it’ll happen again this year. Brown, defensive end Ronald Powell, wide receiver Chris Dunkley and offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson are the headliners. You can also throw into the mix Fort Worth, Texas, Dunbar receiver Darius White and Proviso, Ill., Hillside receiver Kyle Prater. They arguably the best receivers in the country and there presence will overshadow all the other receivers. Even with all the potential stars coming … someone won’t be there.
3. The best matchups
This is always the fun one. Two summers ago it was Janoris Jenkins who was the show in one-on-one drills. He was physical and never got beat. This year there are so many great potential matchups, it’s hard to say which one will be the best. But here are a couple dream matchups that I would like to see:
* Matt Elam vs Darius White/Kyle Prater — OK, so Elam might be a safety, but this is the best athlete on the board going against the best receivers in the country.
* Victor Hampton vs Quinton Dunbar — How about a guy with some recent commitment questions going against a guy looking to possible get into Florida’s class?
* Jonathan Dowling vs Christian Green — Green might also be a quarterback prospect, but he’s a tremendous receiver and Dowling is the do-it-all athlete in Florida’s class.
* Jonathan Dowling vs Ronald Powell — Powell can lineup at tight end and looks just as fast as a receiver. Dowling is the only guy I could see stopping him.
* Cody Riggs vs Chris Dunkley — Dunkley is a top priority for the Gators and Riggs is a guy of high interest. Great matchup.
Jeff Luc vs Mack Brown — Top linebacker takes on top running back prospect for the Gators. Can anyone say classic?
4. Surprise show ups
I’ll just go with White and Prater. They have barely mentioned Florida this whole summer and now both are expected to be in Gainesville tonight. If they do in fact show up, they’ll be the top offensive skill players on the field. Prater and White will be the stars to watch — outside of Elam and Powell. White’s got great size (6-foot-4, 205 pounds) and he’s been clocked at running a 4.5 40. His hands are tremendous. Rivals.com ranks Prater No. 1 and White No. 2, and Prater certainly is a strong No. 1. They are both similar in size, but Prater might have the edge in athleticism and his hands are slightly better. Regardless, both will shine tonight.
5. The young guys
The one player of great interest to me that was expected to come in was Matthews, N.C., Providence Day quarterback Price Litton. He’s a 2011 prospect and will be one of the top quarterback prospects in the country next year. Unfortunately, he’s got a nagging arm issue and won’t be in town. However, some very talented young guns will be in Gainesville starting with Groveland, South Lake cornerback Nick Waisome. He was tremendous at Florida’s camp in June, and while he might be small (5-10, 162), he’s very fast and will be a shut-down corner next year. Luc’s teammate Keelin Smith is a top corner prospect as well. Palatka running back Kion Williams is going to be a big-time running back prospect next year and should be a solid player tonight. But everyone is talking about the 2013 running back — and son of former Gator Fred Taylor — Kelvin Taylor from West Palm Beach, Glades Day. He could play for a college team right now. He’s one of the most physically gifted young players I’ve seen in a while.