Happy Holidays faithful readers! I’m coming to you from snowy Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’m a long way away from Florida but still very close to the recruiting world. Got a ton of questions this week. Some will be featured in next week’s edition, but keep sending in the questions. You’re helping to put food on my table. The recruiting season is coming to a close, and while it’s been quiet in recent weeks with good news for the Gators, there is still plenty of time to get the ball rolling. I’ll address some of those issues this week.
On to the questions!
Any word on how (Jordan) Hicks and (Ronald) Powell are leaning? Also, you mentioned that Florida has around 7 scholarships to fill. Who do see taking those spots?
— Mike Misconi
For starters, Florida is in great shape for Powell. The Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde defensive end has had Florida at the top of his list since the summer and was planning to commit on ESPN last week, but because of some issues between the two parties, he had to postpone it. He has said time and time again that he could commit any day now and that he will commit to either Florida or USC before his official visit to that school in January. I’d be shocked if Florida didn’t land Powell. Unless something catastrophic happens at Florida in the next few weeks, Powell will be in Gainesville this summer.
As for Hicks, word on the street is that Texas has the lead right now. The West Chester, Ohio, Lakota West linebacker isn’t speaking with the media about recruiting, but a few people that I’ve talked to say while Florida made a huge impression — even without defensive coordinator Charlie Strong — the relationship he has with Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is a huge positive for the Longhorns. He is enrolling early and will make his decision soon. I was confident in Florida earlier when Strong was on staff, but I think Texas might have the upper hand in the end.
Florida has 20 verbal commitments right now and because of the Houston Nutt incident last year, 25 is the limit. With that said, Florida will have some decisions to make in the next month. Here’s a list of the top 10 prospects (in no particular order) I think Florida is still going after.
1. Ronald Powell, DE, Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde
2. Chris Dunkley, WR, Pahokee
3. Jordan Hicks, LB, West Chester, Ohio, Lakota West
4. Seantrel Henderson, OL, St. Paul, Minn., Cretin Durham
5. Eric Mack, OL, St. Matthews, S.C., Calhoun County (South Carolina)
6. Ivan McCartney, WR, Miramar
7. Chaz Green, OL, Tampa Catholic
8. Christian Green, ATH, Tampa Catholic
9. Sharrif Floyd, DT, Philadelphia, Penn., George Washington
10. Andrew Hendrix, QB, Cincinnati, Ohio, Moeller (Notre Dame)
I’ve heard Dunkley and (Christian) Green all year long with no word of a commitment yet. Heard about (Justin) Hunter and that’s another weak maybe. (Kenny) Stills too. We haven’t gotten a commitment from a major receiver yet. Which WR’s are we recruiting hardest as of right now and which ones do we seem to have a real chance with? Any of those WR recruits let you in on something? Hip me to the game, Ed!
Dunkley is a guy, like Powell, that I would be shocked to see not commit to the Gators. One issue Florida has had of late is that Billy Gonzales left for LSU. Zach Azzanni came in and has made some really good strides with the guys Gonzales recruited. Still, it’s tough to make such a quick relationship in transition. I don’t care how good of a recruiter you are. Dunkley and recent commit Robert Clark (West Palm Beach Dwyer) are both sold on Azzanni, which is good. McCartney hasn’t commented publicly about Florida’s coaching situation and has been very tough to get a hold of lately. Florida is going at him very hard, but Miami and West Virginia are both at the top with Florida. Some thought John “Doc” Holiday leaving for the head-coaching job at Marshall would have a great impact on McCartney’s chances of going to West Virginia, but he said recently that it won’t. Georgia is also a team to watch.
Those two are the guys Florida wants. They have three secured and I think they’d like to get a total of five in this class. Penn State commitment Adrian Coxson visited and had a great time, but I’m not sure I see him making it in this class, especially if both McCartney and Dunkley commit. Hunter was a guy I thought Florida would steal from LSU, but he reaffirmed his commitment to LSU this week and I doubt he’ll be involved in much recruiting for the rest of the way.
A guy to look out for is Ohio State commit James Louis. Things didn’t exactly work out for him and Florida earlier this year, but if the staff can’t get McCartney, I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach out to him. Gonzales kept in constant contact with him even after he committed, but with him gone, I’m not sure how much Florida will really be a factor. Bradenton Manatee’s Ace Sanders is a guy flying under the radar. He was one of the best receivers I saw at Florida’s camp over the summer and could be an option for Florida, depending how they fill the position.
I know that Florida is on the radar for a lot of these guys, but will the exit of Strong, and Gonzales have an affect on the Gators’ ability to land any of the 5-stars that currently have the Gators near the top? Thanks for answering my question and Go Gators.
The loss of both coaches has already been felt in a negative way — Jeff Luc to Florida State (Strong) and Chris Martin to California (Gonzales). Urban Meyer has been personally recruiting Hicks, but without a defensive coordinator hired, I’m not sure how comfortable Hicks will be with that. Powell is the top guy on Florida’s list, but I see him sticking with Florida regardless of the lack of a defensive coordinator.
Azzanni has made a positive impression on Florida’s class, thus far. Clark committed and Dunkley said he’s comfortable with Azzanni. What Azzanni can do with other receiver prospects out there will be key in the next month. Can he win over McCartney or Green?
I don’t think either had much of an impact on Henderson. He’s an offensive lineman and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio is his primary recruiter. I think Florida lucked out this year because of the number of linebackers they are recruiting. They could get by this year without a lot of linebackers, but next year is a different story. Azzanni will have the tough job of recruiting those receivers to help fill out this class.
Edward, with the loss of Luc and Martin does that make Ronald Powell even more of a priority in terms of defensive commitments? And is there any news lately on Chaz and Christian Green?
If Powell weren’t leaning so hard toward Florida, I would say absolutely. But I’m just waiting for him to commit to Florida. This doesn’t mean he’s not important, it just means that I’m considering him locked up at this point. Luc hurts as far as linebackers go, but with the depth the Gators have, linebacker isn’t the biggest priority.
The Greens are a tough bunch to read. Both had Florida at the top for the longest time but have recently turned their attention to other schools. Tennessee could end up with Chaz Green, but the recent NCAA investigation has he and his family a bit wary, according to sources. Georgia and Florida State might have a slight lead over Florida for Christian Green. I’ve been told that in his heart Christan wants to be a Gator, but outside influences are turning him away from the orange and blue. Both will officially visit and January and that could change everything.
Still, it’s an uphill battle for Florida to get both of these guys.
Ed, what are the Gators’ chances in landing Seantrel Henderson into Gainesville? He is already at college level weight and talent. He would really complement the lineup if the Pouncey twins (and Carl Johnson) decide to leave for the NFL. I’m sure him being a frosh would not be a factor since the coaching staff decided to plug in Xavier Nixon during the latter part of the season.
Henderson has been the talk of the town for some time. The thing is that he kept saying he was going to come to Gainesville but never made it. He cancelled a few times and it seemed as though all hope was lost for Florida to even get to talk to the kid. Then, he made it in last week and while he’s shutting himself off from the media, word is that his visit went well. Nothing will be known entirely until he comments on his trip. Getting him on campus was the first step for Florida. How the coaches sweet-talked him was the next. No announcement date has been set. Stay tuned …