It’s Christmastime in Gainesville and while many want a bowl victory from Santa, there are still some presents that fans — and Florida’s coaches — would like to open under the recruiting tree. Some good things happened this month for the Gators (Cody Riggs and Robert Clark committing), but Florida also lost out on defensive end Chris Martin (California), linebacker Jeff Luc (Florida State) and receiver Kenny Stills (Oklahoma). Florida’s staff is hoping Santa has them on the good list because there are a bunch of top prospects that they’d like to see in the orange and blue.
With five spots left (Florida has 20 verbal commitments), here are the top five players I think are on Florida’s Christmas list. I’ve added a few others just for kicks …
1. DL: Ronald Powell (6-foot-4, 230 pounds), Moreno Valley, Calif., Ranco Verde — The top weakside defensive end in the nation and is just as talented as a tight end. Could stand up and play linebacker if asked, but is best with his hand on the ground. He and Urban Meyer have a great relationship, and he has all but publicly committed to the Gators. USC is still a factor. Powell was set to commit somewhere last week, but he and ESPN couldn’t work it out. He wants to commit before officially visiting his future school.
2. LB: Jordan Hicks (6-2, 220), West Chester, Ohio, Lakota West — Rated by most as the top linebacker in the country and has the skill to play all three linebacker positions, but excels outside. As a senior, he had 95 tackles, including 13 for loss. Was the Butkus Award winner as the top high school linebacker. He’s down to Texas, Florida and Ohio State. Most think Texas has the upper hand at this point, but Meyer is personally recruiting Hicks to Florida.
3. OL: Seantrel Henderson (6-8, 301), OL, St. Paul, Minn., Cretin-Derham — Rated the consensus No. 1 player in the nation and led his school to a state title. He’s a huge prospect, but has great athleticism for an offensive lineman. He’s also a solid basketball prospect as well. He’s been quiet about recruiting, so it’s hard to tell who has the upper hand at this point.
4. WR: Chris Dunkley (5-10, 164), Pahokee — Besides Powell, he’s the top prospect on Florida’s list. The Gators proved this year that depth at receiver is an issue and Dunkley is a guy with the athleticism to make an instant impact. He’s listed by most as a “silent” commit to the Gators and is expected to commit at the Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 2.
5. WR: Ivan McCartney (6-3, 180), Miramar — Like Dunkley, McCartney is a guy this staff desperately wants. He’s got a great combination of size and speed and would fit perfectly in Florida’s offense — especially with John Brantley at the helm. McCartney had nearly 800 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns as a senior.
If some of those guys don’t work out, how about …
DL: Sharrif Floyd (6-3, 310), Philadelphia, Penn., George Washington — One of the most coveted defensive tackles in the country and finished the year with 50 tackles, nine sacks and 28 tackles for loss. Blocked four punts and a field goal and also knocked down six passes. It was thought Florida led early, but word is Ohio State has pulled ahead. He still hasn’t decided on when he’ll commit, and Meyer was in-home with him along with defensive line coach Dan McCartney earlier this month.
DL: Jackson Jeffcoat (6-5, 230), Plano, Texas, West — The top strongside defensive end prospect in the country. Had 67 solo tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 22 quarterback pressures, 8.5 sacks, two interceptions and two blocked kicks as a senior. He seems like kind of a longshot for the Gators, but he’s going to officially visit in January and that’s always a good sign for Meyer and Co. Even if the Gators get Powell, Jeffcoat plays on the opposite side, so he wouldn’t be frightened of having Powell in the same class.
OL: Eric Mack (6-4, 315), St. Matthews, S.C., Calhoun County (SOUTH CAROLINA) — With the Pouncey twins situation still up in the air, Florida’s staff would like to get some insurance along the offensive line in this class. Henderson is the top dog, but he’s given no indication on where he’s leaning toward. Mack is a big body who would fit in nicely in the middle of Florida’s offensive line. He’s committed to South Carolina, but he’s expected to officially visit UF at the end of January. Great sign for Florida. Bad sign for the Gamecocks.
QB: Andrew Hendrix (6-3, 220), Cincinnati Moeller (NOTRE DAME) — He’s a pro-style quarterback, but he’s shown flashes of mobility. With Florida only locking up Venice’s Trey Burton in this class, Meyer said he’d like to bring in another quarterback for numbers. Freshman Jordan Reed has been working out at tight end before games and during practice, so while Meyer said he’s still a quarterback, it looks as though his future could be at tight end. Hendrix is committed to Notre Dame but is taking the holidays to think about his future. And Meyer is notorious for swiping Notre Dame commits.
ATH: Christian Green (6-2, 200), Tampa Catholic — He was once a strong Florida lean but has recently put Georgia and FSU at the top with Florida needing to make up ground. Sources say his heart is in Gainesville, but his ears are being filled with Seminole and Bulldog thoughts. He’s a tremendous, but raw, athlete and would be another weapon to add if one of their top receiver prospects doesn’t work out.
OL: Chaz Green (6-6, 290), Tampa Catholic — Like Christian, Chaz was once all about the Gators, but after a trip to Tennessee he stared to lean toward the Vols. I’ve been told the recent NCAA snooping going on around Knoxville has made him nervous about UT, but he hasn’t come out publicly to say any of that. I still think it will be tough to get him to Gainesville.