Gators get lift from big weekend

Urban Meyer hoists the Sugar Bowl trophy.
Urban Meyer hoists the Sugar Bowl trophy.

What a weekend for Florida’s program. The Gators got a huge victory over Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl and then turned right around and picked up two big commitments for their 2010 class. Florida did hit a pothole Thursday when West Palm Beach Dwyer safety Matt Elam decommitted and then committed to Florida State, but the Gators should regroup nicely. With a lot of kids either getting ready for school or preparing for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, there’s a lot of good info surrounding recruiting as the last month of the season arrives.

Ronald Powell: While I can’t be in San Antonio for the Army game, I’ve got a mole who says Powell is still leaning hard toward Florida. The Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde defensive end has been considered for most of the recruiting season to be strong candidate to commit to the Gators at any time. He was supposed to commit on ESPN in December, but both parties couldn’t come to an agreement. Then the Urban Meyer fiasco began, giving Powell some pause. The word is that Powell has talked with Meyer about his future and if Powell feels comfortable with what Meyer has planned, he should end up in Florida’s 2010 class. ranks Powell as the No. 1 weakside defensive end in the country.

Matt Elam: Elam decommitting was no surprise to me. He had been wavering on his commitment to the Gators for most of the fall. Yes, he reaffirmed his commitment to Florida in mid-December, but he’s just not comfortable with Meyer’s health situation. There were rumors that he might be flip-flopping yet again on his commitment — now to FSU — but he told Rivals’ Adam Gorney Sunday that he will enroll early at FSU and is not wavering this time. So, is it a done deal? It won’t be over until he is sitting in class in Tallahassee.

Dietrich Riley: With Elam out as a Florida commit, the staff can now get out of his stranglehold and go after another safety. That safety has to be La Canada, Calif., St. Francis High’s Dietrich Riley. He had Florida at the top of his list during the fall, but after the staff advised him to hold off on taking an official visit, it seemed that either USC or Tennessee would get the upper hand. Now, Elam is out and Riley is the top safety left on Florida’s board. He was spending his time in St. Peterburg for the Under Armour game with Gator commits Josh Shaw, Chris Dunkley and Cody Riggs. Riley told the Orlando Sentinel that Florida is in his top three schools and that he’ll visit Gainesville this weekend.

“Coach Meyer is still recruiting me hard and they told me I’m their safety to get now, after Elam (decommitted),” Riley told the Sentinel. “They’ve been recruiting me since October and they’ve been telling me to sit tight and be patient and we’ll let you know which guys go to the NFL.”

Under Armour commits: Like I said above, getting Dominique Easley and Dunkley over the weekend were huge for Florida’s class. Obviously, both possess a lot of skill — I mean, did you see how dominant Easley was on the defensive line? But getting both adds confidence to this class. With all the drama surrounding Meyer and his future with the program, getting two prospects like this immediately after his health flip-flop incident can only make other prospects feel more comfortable. Easley’s commitment might have meant more to uncommitted prospects because his decision to decommit from Penn State and pledge to the Gators came out of nowhere. The Staten Island, N.Y., Curtis defensive end was supposed to commit to Florida over the summer, but things didn’t work out. Now, he commits out of nowhere and spends the rest of the Under Armour game doing the Gator chomp.

The Pahokee wide receiver seemed to be in the bag for the longest time, but Florida lost receivers coach Billy Gonzales, who was a big part of Dunkley’s recruitment. After Meyer’s situation happened, Dunkley went quiet. Dunkley even said on Facebook that he was picking Alabama Saturday, but in the end, he ended up a Gator. That’s a huge pick-up for Florida, which is looking to add some much-needed depth at the receiver position.

Jaylen Watkins: When news of Vance Bedford leaving Florida to become Charlie Strong’s defensive coordinator at Louisville first broke, I immediately went to Watkins to see how he was feeling. The Cape Coral cornerback told me when Meyer originally resigned that he would stick with his commitment because Bedford told him he’d still be at Florida. Well, now that Bedford is out, how will Watkins, an early enrollee, react? He said he’s still committed and will be on campus next week, following the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Early enrollees: Tuesday marks the the first day of classes for the spring semester at UF. Boy, am I glad that my early morning class days are over! But it has just begun for a handful of Florida’s 2010 recruits. Here are the nine kids that are enrolling early:

On campus now

Joshua Shaw, CB, Palmdale, Calif.,
Trey Burton, QB, Venice
Ian Silberman, OL, Fleming Island
Solomon Patton, WR, Mobile, Ala., Murphy
Neiron Ball, DE, Jackson, Ga.

Arriving within the week
Robert Clark, WR, West Palm Beach Dwyer
Gerald Christian, TE, Dwyer
Jaylen Watkins, CB, Cape Coral
Travon Van, ATH, New Berlin, N.Y., Milford Academy


  1. Ed, good report, I know this is not your bag, but could you please sometime do a piece on what we Gators can expect from the weight room, I would love to see Demps at about 205 and Rainey also with more weight. I’m quite sure there are others you can think of, Have a great year Tom

  2. Edward,

    How exactly does the dead period work? It appears the NCAA is very liberal in their managing of not contacting prospects during the dead period. I am speculating, but using common sense, Elam’s phone probably blew up the night Meyer announced he was retiring from coaching. Just see the quote below from Mack Brown:

    I had like 10 schools call me like the second after it happened,” Brown said. “A few of them have kept up with me, like Florida State, Tennessee, and Alabama.”

    Are you aware of what consequences there are for contacting during the dead period?

    On another note, what do you think our chances are of having another surprise Saturday with commitments from unexpected places. Do you think with Easly,(and possibly Powell) Floyd would consider going with us (realizing the 2 other players will take focus off him?)

    Thanks and I love reading your posts!

  3. good info

    very disapoimted over luc(killer loss)/
    elam/joyner/linder/white losses

    henderson/powell/brown/(the big three)dowling/floyd/odighizuwa/both greens/dorsey/riley will make or break signing day /we need 7 of them

    man i sure wish we could fill all coaching jobs this week with great coaches & recruiters

  4. Any chance now that the Gator recruiting class isn’t getting spooked, Matt Elam sees the error of his ways and rejoins the Gators? Also, recruiters from other schools seem to be using the “you can play with us right away” line – Greg Reid, Matt Elam have said that was key in decommiting – Why won’t Meyer and CO. tell the truth that “they will see time with the Gators as soon as any other school, considering injuries, etc.?

  5. To me it sems that maybe Elam was to iffy all along. I do believe that he wolud be a great asset to the gators. But maybe it is better that he deceided to go somewhere else just seems that he was not to committed all along.

  6. What’s the difference between Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong. ans. one is a liar one’s not… when Stoops left he was asked not to take any UF coaches when he left and he didn’t… on the other hand Strong was asked not to take any coaches with him and he said he wasn’t … but, guess what …he lied … hope he doesn’t win a game in Louisville, just shows what kind of guy he really is …lost all respect for the man.

  7. Ed – Thanks for your great reporting. I was especially happy to hear about Chris Dunkley since he is from Pahokee, where I grew up and played football. From up here in Connecticut, I have enjoyed watching the glades athletes at UF and in the NFL show what a source of great players that region is. Tom Elliott, UF 1959.

  8. Cody, relax. Charlie’s a great guy. Coaches are always looking to move up the ladder and this is the way it works. We’ll always to be able to attract great coaches here because, among other things, you can look at Stoops, Mullen, Strong and numerous others over the years who have gone from UF to head coaching opportunities. We’re in much better shape than our rivals would like to believe.

  9. Ed,

    It doesn’t look like the Gators have many running backs as commits. Still seeems that with Tebow leaving Fl needs some big backs, like Latsko with our previous quaterback.
    How come Alabama always loads up on the big guys and it always seems to pay huge dividends. 245 pound tailback Jalston Fowler is committed to Alabama over Florida, even playing 3rd string.
    All of the major college football program see to be going after at least 1 power back, what’s with Florida. A power option spread might be something that would be useful at times!!