Army game could yield big prizes


Florida’s recent recruiting mojo could go into overdrive this weekend. Only weeks ago, it appeared that Urban Meyer and his program were about to hit a major pothole in recruiting. First, Meyer resigned, then immediately took that back and decided an indefinite leave of absence was more appropriate. With that — and some much-need phone calls by Meyer — the Gators got right back on track.

With 21 verbal commitments, Florida has the potential to walk away from this weekend with 24. Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl (1 p.m. ET, NBC) could be monumental. Here are my predictions for the three biggest recruiting prizes on Florida’s board this weekend.

West Palm Beach Dwyer safety Matt Elam
Elam has had one of the wildest recruiting seasons of any prospect that I can remember. He was committed to Florida and Florida State and backed out on both. Now Georgia is in the running, and he’s set to make everything official and enroll at his future school Monday.

  • Florida: Elam has a longstanding relationship with Meyer because Meyer recruited his older brother, Abram, back when Meyer was on staff at Notre Dame in the mid-90s. Elam committed to Florida in the fall of 2008 and only began to waver this fall when he looked at Florida’s future depth chart and the number of defensive backs committed to the Gators. After an emotional phone conversation with Meyer, Elam made it clear that it would be hard to see himself with any other college coach.
  • Georgia: The thing that makes Georgia so attractive to Elam is playing time. He’s said time and time again that he wants to get on the field early in college. He thinks he can be a key contributor wherever he goes. Georgia returns six safeties, which Elam has said makes Georgia very much a factor in his final decision.
  • Florida State: It was rumored in early December that if Elam were going to decommit from the Gators it would be so he could spend his college days in Tallahassee. Well, that happened, but only for a short amount of time. Elam recently told that he favors UF and UGA over FSU. Call me naive, but how can FSU still be in the running if he went from committed to not really considering them. Then again, this is Elam we are talking about and he could do anything on Saturday.
  • Prediction: Florida — His relationship with Meyer will win him over in the end.

Moreno Valley, Calif., Rancho Verde defensive end Ronald Powell
It’s been UF and USC for the entire recruiting season, and that won’t be any different when he finally decides. Florida has had a substantial lead for Powell and that only increased after he was reassured by Meyer of his intention to coach the Gators this fall.

  • Florida: Meyer is the key and it looks like Powell is comfortable with Meyer’s situation. Powell could come in and immediately contend for a starting spot if junior Carlos Dunlap follows Jermaine Cunningham to the NFL Draft. Powell was on campus three times in 2009 — all on his own dime.
  • USC: It’s just too hard for Cali kids to leave the biggest program that side of the Mississippi. He’d be close enough to home that he wouldn’t have to worry about missing home-cooked meals. He’s stated in the past that he’s always been impressed by USC’s knack for getting their defensive guys to go high in the draft.
  • Prediction: Florida — He’s been a Florida lean for too long for the staff not to reel him in. If he truly is comfortable with Meyer’s plan, he’ll be doing the Gator chomp Saturday.

Philadelphia, Georgia Washington defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd
He has reportedly been a beast at the Army practices and is one of the top players in the country. Floyd has been courted by pretty much every top school in the nation, but he’s narrowed his finalists to Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina. The consensus is that it’s down to OSU and UF. The early money was on OSU, but it seems that Vegas is favoring the Gators at the moment. He’s told reporters his decision will be a “shocker,” but it really won’t be unless he chooses UNC …

  • Florida: The Gators entertained him for the Tennessee game and he came away very impressed with what he saw, giving UF the early lead. But the loss of defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and the Meyer situation seemed to hurt the Gators’ chances. The addition of DL Dominique Easley during the Under Armour game last weekend apparently has helped the Gators tremendously. Also, if Powell were to commit that would also help UF because Floyd says he wants to play around good talent.
  • Ohio State: They are the hometown favorite. Yes, he lives in Philly, but OSU owns the Northeast in recruiting. He’s been rumored to have the Buckeyes at the top of his list for most of the year and that didn’t change when he arrived in San Antonio. The campus is much closer to his home and it’s very hard to pull a kid this late in the season away from a school that close and that good.
  • North Carolina: Seems like an odd choice, but Floyd said he’s developed a great relationship with UNC’s coaching staff. The Tar Heels have had a solid defense since Butch Davis arrived and pulled an even bigger DT prospect in Marvin Austin a couple of years ago. If Floyd truly wants to make his choice a shocker, UNC is the way to go.
  • Prediction: Florida — This one took me a while. I had OSU pegged here the entire year, but after talking to a couple of people in San Antonio and out of San Antonio, I think Florida’s latest push to get him — plus the addition of a couple top prospects — will lead Floyd to the orange and blue. It certainly helps that Florida named former Miami Dolphins assistant George Edwards defensive coordinator on the eve on his decision.

If Florida completes the Holy Trinity of commitments this weekend, it will be hard for Florida not end the year with the consensus No. 1 recruiting class in the country.


  1. Great stuff Edward. I am curious about a few of the ESPN top 150 players that still have the Gators on their final list. Jordan Hicks, Seantrel Henderson, Christian Jones, Dietrich Riley and Ivan McCartney all have the Gators listed. Which if any will be coming to Gainesville or are they still too close to call? Thanks with any info you can provide. Have a great weekend!

  2. Well, there is some VERY strong talk right now of Pete Carroll back to the NFL with the Seahawks. That could seal the deal and maybe even open some other USC recruits to look at Florida. Powell is a major key to this class. Floyd would put it over the top. I’m not going to believe anything Elam says until I see him enroll…hopefully in Gainesville.

  3. Kevin, should Pete Carroll bail on USC the perfect storm could be created for Florida where recruiting is concerned. I really hope that we can score a trifecta tomorrow and get the three aformentioned in the blog article to don a Gator cap. Knowing that the Army All-America game is tomorrow, the timing of this news coming out could work to our advantage – that is, if there’s some substance to what ESPN is reporting about Carroll and the Seahawks.

    Would love to get Seantrel Henderson too, that’s if he doesn’t wind up at Ohio State or USC.

  4. Ed,

    Great information and I agree with your predictions. Hopefully we can get Elam, Powell and Floyd in the fold.

    With the possibility of Pete Carroll going to the Seahawks I suppose there is a chance we may be able to lure away a USC commit. With that said, I wish we could entice Seantrel Henderson and LB’s Jordan Hicks & Christian Jones to become GATORS!

    Is there any chance with the FSU situation regarding the loss of perhaphs 14 games and scholarship reductions changing Jeff Luc’s mind?

    Thanks for keeping us up-to-date. I look forward to getting much good news following tomorrow’s All-American game.

    By: Las Vegas John

  5. This recruiting suspense is driving me nuts! I just wish it’s February 3rd and this suspense finally comes to an end. To prevent myself from being hurt, I am lowering my expections. I think we won’t get Floyd, we have 50-50 chance of getting Powell. As for Elam – I don’t care where he goes.

  6. Having read your column for weeks, I wonder if Elam is worth it. If he’s as good as he seems to think he is, it shouldn’t matter if we have 100 DBs coming back. He will get his chance to prove he’s better than everyone else, and if he is he will get all the playing time he wants. And if he’s not, then I guess he wouldn’t be that much of a loss. His attitude doesn’t strike me as the type of team player the Gators want and need.

    If Haden, Hernandez, both Pounceys, and Dunlap go to the NFL (I don’t think the others mentioned are ready), how many scholarships will the Gators then have to offer?

  7. The Trifecta ia wishful thinking for sure. However, in order to get a good insight on these uncommitted recruits, one must google their names and find out what the local news says about their hometown heroes. Alocal Philadephia reports points Floyd to Ohio State and predicts that the #1 Outside Linebacker Jordan Hicks to Texas. Elam has a long history with urban and seems to have a soft heart heart for him. Elam will choose orange and blue. With the news of Pete Carroll…this helps the Gators in terms of Powell.

  8. Come on people, give the Elam kid a break! It drives me crazy to watch the back and forth; however, when it comes down to it, he has the right to change his mind a million times. Why? Because the system allows him to. It’s not like he has committed crimes. His fault seems to be that he makes decisions based on emotion and that’s part of being young. He may have done these things to test the coaching staff! How would they treat him if he changed his mind? Sounds far-fetched; but, you never know. I, for one, hope he ends up a Gator. He appears to be a good kid and I would hate to see him on the other side of the ball.. Bottom line, like I wrote above, he has the right to change his mind, as long as the system allows. So, let him wonder to and fro and make mistakes like the rest of us when we were young and impressionable. He’s going to be an awsome Gator and we will all be glad he’s ours.

  9. It gives me hope that this might happen. The more Jr’s leave for the draft. It only makes us more attractive. With USC in a coaching change up. This could be the best class of Gator Nation in school history. Hicks is still in play as is Ivan, and Henderson. Prater, Woods, Grimble or Scroggins might start looking for a new home. Gator Nation will be there for them.

  10. do you think if we get these guys this weekend,this might be the best class ever at uf? it seems to me that we are getting alot of top 100 recruits even with the destractions.i think carroll is going to seahawks and they r going to be in alot of trouble! goooo gators!

  11. So, Pat, what was that you said with Finebaum about UF recruiting about to take a dive with Urban’s LOA. I’d say this will be the #1 class. That prediction will go down as one of your best, along with your pick of Cincy in the Sugar Bowl! Not too late to jump on the UF will not be in the top 10 next year bandwagon!
    p.s.- try some salt on that crow you’re eating, it tastes better.

  12. Edward: With 24 commitments; What limits will be placed on the size of this recruiting class? We’ve offered scholarships to at least ten other players and we’re now actively pursuing ND and USC commitments. Do we pull offers to make room for higher rated players? It’s good to be king, but do we have room at the inn for all of the players that want to be part of the Gator Nation?

  13. Any real news on Seantrel Henderson? This kid is obviously the real deal. My secret hope is that he will come play football and walk on to the basketball team. Billy D could definately use the size inside-i.e. the Vanderbilt game.

  14. Given yesterdays commits, I’d say Aschoff is the recruiting blog rock star of the nation. It’s like you just bagged the hottest babes on your “if I could” list. Amazing to think that some big names could STILL land with the gators.

    Roll on Gator Nation.

  15. Ed,
    Great prediction and I was with you all the way…even though I was shaking in my Gator boots when each was making their declaration.
    Floyd, Elam and Powell commiting….making it 24 commits on board. Don’t we have a 25 slot max capacity?

    Seantrell Henderson, Jordan Hicks, Michael Taylor, Jackson Jeffcoat and the possible USC decommits Dillon Baxter & Kyle Prater could possibly be UF commits when this is all said and done. How will the extra commits affect the scholarship slots?

  16. 28 is the SEC max.

    Throw in the “Percy Harvin type” that got hurt early last year. Everyone did their best not to label him with that tag. Now that Percy got NFL Rookie of the Year it makes me a little excited to see what Urban’s Offense will look like next year. If someone post his name, Baxter & Prater added to the list would be way over the top. Then to get silly

    ‘In other area recruiting news, Plano West defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, the nation’s top prospect according to the ESPNU 150, will make a recruiting visit to the Florida Gators on Jan. 15, according to Gerry Hamilton of Scouts Inc.” from ESPN Dallas.

    It’s going to feel like 29 strong new faces helping to pick up the slack.

  17. . Billed as the heir apparent to Percy Harvin, Debose had more than 2,000 yards at wide receiver, running back and quarterback. He is considered the No. 2 receiver in the nation by “He is as good as there is,” Meyer said. “I think he is the best player in America. Watching him on film, for what we do, for our style of offense, for what we need right now with the departure of Percy Harvin, that is a critical element. … Whether he likes it or not, there’s a comparison. That’s not a bad thing to be compared to (Harvin). That’s a compliment, very much so.”

    A bumper crop of 29 new faces coming.

    The redshirt who could have helped the Gators beat Alabama this year? Probably for the best, winning 3 out of the last 4 BCS championships would have put the Gator Haters into a heart dangerous hyper drive.