Recruiting will only start to get more exciting as the fall progresses and recruiting visits are already starting.
Really got nothing more, so on to the questions!
It seems to me that we are losing a lot of in-state recruits that a team one year removed from a national championship should not be losing. Why do we have trouble recruiting top players in the state? Finally, I am convinced that we will never sign a top running back recruit at Florida in the Meyer era. Offensively, we apparently do not know how to use the tailback position, and every top recruit will look at schools that do, i.e. Alabama first.
— Wayne G
Florida is losing guys in-state because everyone is trying to get a hold of the top players from one of the most talent-rich states in the country. It was bound to happen and Florida, or any school, can’t sign everyone from their own state. Florida has really cleaned up in the state since Meyer took over and that trend will continue because of the heavy emphasis he puts on protecting the state. The issue this year is that depth is starting to become an issue for recruits. It’s a blessing and curse. Guys are starting to shy away from Florida because of the talent that could be around for a few years. Florida and national prospects see it. It’s not that Florida is struggling to keep talent because of poor recruiting tactics or laziness, it’s from being so dominant in the state over the last few years and the enormous depth the Gators have at certain positions.
I will say Florida State has done a great job this year of getting some top prospects from the state. I’m not as impressed with Miami’s class, but FSU is going toe-to-toe with UF with most of the top players in the state. Jimbo Fisher has really stepped up the recruiting efforts since taking over.
On to the running back issue. As much as Florida’s running game has looked impressive at times under Urban Meyer, the lack of getting that big back has been a problem. Mack Brown was a huge get for the Gators last year and he could be the guy that jump-starts the true in-between-the-tackles running game. Brown could end up being a back who gets a heavy amount of carries because he can be an every-down back. Jeff Demps is a great athlete, and he can run with the best of them, but I’m still not sure how he’ll do up the middle against SEC talent.
The way to get running backs prospects to truly buy into what Florida’s running game has to offer is to see someone get 20 carries a game. It could happen, but neither Demps nor Emmanuel Moody have done it with the Gators.
Ed, I’ve learned to listen when you speak. You get it right much more than you get it wrong. So my question is, where do you see our class ranking when all is said and done (I’m talking Scouts or ESPN, not that Rivals – only look at part of the class garbage)? I’m getting a sense that other FL schools are getting the players and this class could bite us hard in a year or two if we don’t start landing these elite athletes. Are you sensing that as well or is it just my paranoia?
Florida’s 2011 class is currently ranked in the top-10 by all three major recruiting services. The Gators have 15 commitments right now and I expect them to get at least 10 more. Florida is in the mix for a bunch of the top prospects left on the board and I don’t anticipate this class dropping off much at all. Because of depth at positions, this class won’t be one of Meyer’s best (I also don’t think the talent as a whole is very strong this year across the board), but it will be a pretty nice class.
I don’t like to say how a class will look in two years because who knows how they will develop? There are always sleepers and there are always busts. There is enough talent in this one — and more will come — for it to be fine in a couple of years.
With the prospects still available and who Florida already has, I see another top-10 finish in all the major rankings.
Ed, how are we looking on the offensive line? Our current line is one of the best in the nation but they’re all juniors and seniors and are going to need to be replaced soon.
Florida has done pretty well with the offensive line so far in this class. Depth is an issue for the next couple of years, but getting three guys in Trip Thurman, Chase Hounshell and Tommy Jordan certainly helps with that. There are questions about Hounshell’s ability to move from defense to offense and Jordan’s mobility has been criticized. It’s unclear now how any will translate at the college level, but the coaches love each one’s upside. They’ll need at least a year of development after getting on campus anyhow.
I think Florida would like to get at least one more offensive lineman in this class. Florida is still looking at Brandon Shell (Charleston, S.C., Goose Creek) and Marcus Jackson (Vero Beach), who is committed to Miami. Jackson has shown a lot more interest in the Gators since he visited for Friday Night Lights and Florida’s coaches should be on him for a while. Jackson is expected to visit UF this fall.
Hey Ed! Thanks for the great coverage of Gator recruiting. I was just wondering how we stand with WRs this year, especially George Farmer. Has the recent successes of UF receivers (Harvin, Murphy, Cooper, even a weapon like Hernandez) improved our pitch at the position? Thanks again.
Farmer is expected to visit Florida, but I was told this week that he’s all but committed to USC. Taking official visits could change that, but he lives and plays in the Trojans’ backyard. It won’t be easy for any team to steal him away from there. Belle Glade Glades Central’s Kelvin Benjamin has been on Florida’s radar from the beginning and the Gators are in prime position to land him. He’s not saying who his leader is, but all signs are pointing to Florida at the moment. Sammy Watkins of South Fort Myers seems to be falling further and further away from the Gators, even with half-brother Jaylen Watkins on the team. I don’t anticipate him making it into this class even after the love he showed Florida early.
Florida has two guys committed in Ja’Juan Story and Javares McRoy, but will probably look to add at least one more. Benjamin seems like the most likely candidate, but Florida is also in it for Moreno Valley, Rancho Verde’s Jurnior Pomee and Sicklerville, N.J., Timber Creek’s Damiere Byrd, who is lightening fast, but is a bit undersized.
Florida’s ability to have receivers drafted will definitely help them. It might not show this year because of depth, but last year’s class was a great example.
Edward, great job this year! What is the latest on LB AJ Johnson out of Gainesville, Georgia? He’s playing great on a not-so-great team this year.
— Ken from Georgia
Johnson still has Florida No. 1 on his list and will be at the Florida-Tennessee game this weekend. He was once committed to the Vols and has really taken a liking to new coach Derek Dooley. Florida is still going after other linebackers and that might hurt Johnson’s chances of making it into Florida’s class, but the Gators are on top for now. Clemson is the other team to look out for. If the other linebacker prospects — Curtis Grant andStephone Anthony — work out, expect Clemson and Tennessee to battle for his services until the end.