Well, it’s finally here. The second most important day of the year for fans besides bowl game day … which is actually debatable if your team isn’t playing for the national championship. National Signing Day is only two days away, and I’m sorry to say this year’s finish won’t be as exciting as previous years for Florida. There will be no shockers. There will be no worry about kids not sticking with commitments. Wednesday will be exciting for Gator fans nonetheless, but it won’t draw nearly the attention we’ve seen in the past.
But that’s actually a great thing for Gator fans. The less excitement means the less stress. This will go down (on paper) as one of the greatest Florida classes ever. This one will rival the 2006 class that featured TimTebow, Percy Harvin and Brandon Spikes. This will be the top class in the country, and fans should have no ill feelings about the lack of anxious feelings come Wednesday.
The good thing for Florida is that with 25 verbal commitments (11 of whom are already enrolled and on campus) there’s no need for the over-the-top finish because the 2010 class is basically done. Wednesday will just be a chance to add a couple more Letters of Intent to Florida’s stack.
With that said, I’ve still got five things I think will happen Wednesday. Five bold predictions for the final day for 2010 recruiting. Take my predictions for what they’re worth, but keep in mind that last year I correctly predicted that Florida wouldn’t sign a full class and would get Josh Evans and Jelani Jenkins. I also predicted Marsalis Teague would sign with Tennessee. Oh, and did Orson Charles, Brandon Moore or Trent Richardson make it to Gainesville? I think not. Granted those weren’t earth-shattering predictions, but I was right, so I’ll pat myself on the back for them.
However, I missed on Nu’Keese Richardson leaving the Gators at the fax machine. Get it? Like leaving the Gators at the altar, but you use a fax machine on Signing Day … I also whiffed on Jarvis Jones, who signed with USC. I redeemed myself with the three-spot I called with Ronald Powell, Sharrif Floyd and Matt Elam earlier this year.
With out further delay, here are my five National Signing Day predictions for Florida.
1. Florida will get its lineman. And no, it won’t be Seantrel Henderson. The St. Paul, Minn., Cretin-Derham Hall lineman was a long shot for the Gators from the start and nothing has happened to really change that in my eyes. But Chaz Green will fill that spot. The Tampa Catholic offensive lineman is one I thought the Gators had a great shot at landing from the beginning. It wasn’t until he visited Tennessee and developed a great relationship with Lane Kiffin and his staff that the tables turned. It didn’t hurt the Vols that Green’s parents went to UT. That all changed when Kiffin left for USC. Ironically, Kiffin’s departure came basically on the eve of Green’s official visit to Florida. He recently visited USC , so this one is coming down to the Gators and the Trojans. I’m giving the Gators back the edge they lost at the beginning of the year. Florida needs a top lineman, and Green will be that guy.
2. Despite the great class, there will be some disappointment Wednesday. It just goes with the territory for top programs like Florida. When you’re on top, you’re expected to stay there. Florida was so hot in from the fall until mid-January. Now, things have cooled because with limited room, Florida’s staff is only looking at the top prospects left, so they — and fans — have to wait. The disappointment will come in the form of big-name players who will look elsewhere. It started Friday when Jordan Hicks committed to Texas over Florida. Wednesday, I think fans will be so pumped about the possibility of getting Winter Park Lake Howell linebacker Christian Jones, but will be sad to see him don a Florida State hat. It was FSU in the beginning and middle for Jones. Florida made a gigantic push late, but in the end, it’s the Seminoles. Jones visited Tallahassee over the weekend and from all reports, it was a great time for him. He didn’t commit, but like I said in previous blogs, if Jones made it to Tallahassee before Signing Day, he’d end up a ‘Nole. Well, he made it to Tally …
3. Demar Dorsey will not be replaced. His spot will, but his position won’t. There’s been talk of La Canada, Calif., St. Francis safety Dietrich Riley getting the call after Dorsey was let go by Florida’s staff. To me, that ship sailed after Riley failed to make it on campus for an official visit after Matt Elam recommitted to Florida. He was always a guy looking in on Florida’s class. He wasn’t an option as long as Elam was locked up. Now, Florida could make a play for him, but it might mean nothing to him this late in the year. UCLA is my pick. The only other safety prospect Florida might reach out to would be Tampa Leto’s Jeremy Deering. Like Dorsey, he could play both sides of the ball, but at this point, Florida’s got to be pretty happy with its secondary and its receivers. I think Deering is good and is a tremendous athlete, but he might not be what Florida is looking at to replace someone like Dorsey.
4. Not all hope is lost (sarcasm). OK, so the last two predictions weren’t so riveting for Gator fans. They probably weren’t even that tough to predict, but that’s what happens when there isn’t much going on for a program that covered all its bases earlier. But there will be a couple more positives for the Gators. With Jones off the board, Florida will fax that LOI to Homestead linebacker Darrin Kitchens, who will then reply by happily adding depth to Florida’s linebacking corps. He’s a tremendous athlete and should fit in well. Baltimore, Md., City College High receiver Adrian Coxson will also pick Florida. He’s had Florida on top — along with Georgia and Notre Dame — since he decommitted from Penn State, and since Florida’s staff would like to add another wideout, he’s got no reason not to jump on board.
5. Florida won’t sign more than 28. By adding Green, Kitchens and Coxson, Florida will round out its class with 28 commitments. Florida still has some room in this class. If the staff can roll back some early enrollees from previous classes, there could be 30 kids in this year’s class. I just don’t see that happening. The more bodies Florida adds, the more it will have to lose in order to meet the 85 roster limit before the season. That means attrition, and while I’m not saying transfers or medical leaves won’t happen, the more you need, the worse it looks from a PR standpoint. Twenty-eight is a great number and each prospect seems to be a pretty solid fit with the Gators. Why add unnecessary parts to a good thing?
Just for fun: Urban Meyer will make his annual state of the union address about recruiting Wednesday and I’m going to go against the assumptions by some that Signing Day will be Meyer’s final day as Florida’s head coach. I don’t have his medical records. I haven’t sat down and had coffee with him. But I have talked to recruits, and every one I’ve talked to (committed or uncommitted) has said he feels confident that Meyer will return for the 2010 season. Leaving the program at this point puts 2010 commitments in an incredibly awful situation and the program loses all credibility for 2011 prospects.