Recruits recruiting recruits is one of the most fascinating occurrences on the trail.
Like the Borg from Star Trek, once a new recruit is added to a class, he immediately turns into a recruiter for his school with a list of specific targets.
It all started with Seffner, Fla., Armwood running back Matt Jones, one of the first major commits under new coach Will Muschamp. Jones’ verbal not only sent up a flare that Florida’s new pro-style offense will soon have a workhorse, but in Jones the Gators also got one of the most dedicated and persuasive teen-aged recruiters since Tim Tebow.
Next was Stone Mountain, Ga., Stephenson tailback Mike Davis, who may be the most charismatic member of the class. Davis works hard to promote Florida north of the border.
Now, just in time for a summer spike in recruiting (culminating in Friday Night Lights this week), the Gators have added two safeties with big-time targets on their personal recruiting lists.
Strong safety Rhaheim Ledbetter grew up with and goes to Shelby, N.C. Crest High School with five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard.
“Me and Bullard, we see each other as brothers,” Ledbetter said. “We have always wanted to play together, but his options are still in the air.”
Some have thought Ledbetter and Bullard to be a package deal, but those situations don’t often play out the way close friends originally intend. Now that he’s gotten his own decision out of the way, however, Ledbetter says he will be recruiting for the orange and blue.
“I’m going to be talking, trying to get into Jonathan Bullard’s ear a lot,” he said. “And a lot more, like (Melbourne, Fla., safety) Marcus Maye. Just try to be a big-time recruiter for the upcoming class.”
Sure enough, Ledbetter called Maye over the weekend. The two did not connect, but Maye had already made up his mind to be a Gator.
After talking about his own pledge on Monday, Maye turned his thoughts to his long-time friendship with five-star athlete Nelson Agholor, whom the Gators are hot after as a wide receiver, and his growing friendship with Miramar, Fla.’s Tracy Howard, thought to be the best cornerback in the state.
“As far as guys I’m trying to get to commit and take a strong interest in Florida, there’s Tracy Howard and Nelson Agholor,” Maye said. “Those are two guys that can help Florida come back and be on top again. We all went out to Oregon (for Nike’s elite camp, The Opening). There were a ton of guys out there. We talked the whole week about which schools we were looking at.
“Nelson told me he has a lot of interest in Florida. He says they’ve been on him a lot. If we get some good players, some D-linemen, some offensive guys, some defensive guys to commit that he’s thinking of taking a very strong look at it. He wants to play with great players as well. Everybody wants to be a part of that generation that wins championships.”
Agholor could be very important to Florida, as the coaching staff navigates through a challenging class of wide receivers, a position of serious need after the recent transfers of Chris Dunkley and Javares McRoy.
Florida has just nine scholarship receivers, including one true freshman and one senior, which explains the coaches’ courtship of Agholor, who is also a standout safety.
Agholor visited the UF campus in late June for a two-day basketball camp, and Muschamp and offensive coordinator Weis came to see him.
“As far as wide receiver, he’s a very big priority,” said Maye, who played with Agholor on a 7-on-7 team at The Opening. “Up in Oregon, he was one of the top receivers there.”
Now that he’s in the class, Maye, like the others before him, is going to work hard to see the class grow in size and stature. Starting with Agholor and Howard.
“Definitely, I am going to work on them even harder now,” he said. “I’ll try to keep talking to them on an everyday basis about coming here and looking into things.”
Maye has a pretty good idea of how he’d like to see the Gators’ Class of 2012 come together.
“(Ledbetter) at strong safety, me in the secondary, Brian Poole at corner, try to get Tracy Howard to play on the other side at corner — that’s a pretty good secondary right there,” he said on Monday. “And then Nelson (Agholor), Troy (Latroy Pittman), Matt (Jones) and Mike (Davis) on the offensive side of the ball — that’s a pretty good class right there. So I’m very excited.”