Slow recruiting week, eh?
The past couple of days have been up-and-down for Florida, but the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives.
Building off their momentum from the commitment of defensive lineman Gerald Willis III at the Under Armour All-America Game, the Gators flipped three recruits for early enrollment in cornerback Jalen Tabor, running back Brandon Powell and offensive tackle Kavaris Harkless.
The decommitments of receiver Ermon Lane and cornerback Chris Lammons put a damper on things, but Lane was expected and Lammons leaving was a byproduct of Tabor coming.
As I’ve already alluded to, Florida’s class is successful regardless of Lane and Dalvin Cook, or Lammons for that matter. The needs at cornerback were already met, and replacing Lammons with Tabor is just an upgrade.
As for Cook and Lane, their positions aren’t the biggest priorities for UF in the 2014 recruiting cycle. Those are quarterback, tight end, offensive tackle, defensive tackle and cornerback, and the Gators have landed their top targets at those positions.
Moreover, Florida has since replaced Cook with Powell, and there are several options left at receiver (see HERE).
I was asked a lot about certain recruits and topics, so I’m just going to address each one with my thoughts.
On to the questions!
Where things stand at running back
Many of you wondered why UF went after Powell with Jeff Jones and Derrell Scott scheduled for trips this month.
The answer is simple — you take guys that want to be Gators.
Although Jones is receptive to Florida, he remains pledged to Minnesota and will take his last official visit to Michigan. Scott will be in Gainesville next weekend, but UF trails both South Carolina and Tennessee.
Powell, however, told Florida coaches he wanted to come on the day he was offered. You don’t turn down a kid like that to wait on two others who might choose your school.
I think the Gators have a shot with Jones and Scott, but if Powell is the only back they get, there’s nothing wrong with that. He’s a speedy playmaker who will be a perfect fit in Florida’s new spread offense under Kurt Roper.
On another note, I’m told by people close to both recruits that Oregon commit Tony James and Alabama commit Bo Scarbrough simply don’t have interest in UF.
OT Damian Prince
Since my update with him last week, there’s been some changes in his recruitment.
Prince has moved up his decision date to Feb. 5 and is down to Florida, Maryland and South Carolina.
The Gators now get his final visit, and the hire of offensive line coach Mike Summers is a potential game-changer in his recruitment.
“Everything is still good with Florida,” Prince told Rivals.com on Wednesday. “I’m still taking my official visit there but it will be on Jan. 31 now. It’s a good program there. They just hired Mike Summers from USC. He was my favorite offensive line coach in terms of the way he coaches and his personality. He recruited me very hard at USC but he knew it was going to be very hard for him to get me there. Now that he is at Florida it is much closer. Hiring him really helped Florida’s chances with me.”
Also playing in UF’s favor is the addition of Tabor, who is close friends with Prince. The Gators appear to be the team to beat for him at this time.
ATH Adoree’ Jackson
He recently named Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee, UCLA and USC as his finalists.
Two schools that surprisingly didn’t make the cut were Florida State and Oregon. FSU was thought to be up near the top of his leaderboard, while Oregon was supposed to receive his final official.
Will Muschamp is going to push for that visit, which could seal the deal for UF if it happens. It’s shaping up to be a three-team race with the Gators, Tigers and Trojans.
The commitment of Tabor should not affect Florida’s chances with Jackson, who is being recruited as a cornerback, receiver and returner. Tabor will strictly play in the secondary.
DT Thomas Holley
Last week I wrote Holley flipping to Florida is unlikely if defensive line coach Larry Johnson stays at Penn State.
Well, there are reports that Johnson wants to leave the school after not getting the head coaching job.
Should that happen, it could be a deal breaker for the Nittany Lions. However, I wouldn’t underestimate the recruiting ability of James Franklin and the distance-factor pitch he will give Holley.
In the end, I just expect him to stay close to home.
DE Lorenzo Carter
Following my interview with Carter at the Under Armour media luncheon, I felt like UF was by no means out of it.
This tweet from him days later confirmed that:
Finally back with the fam! Sounds like they enjoyed their trip to Gainesville. Grandma liked it!
— lorenzo carter (@LCarter_25) January 4, 2014
A recruit and/or his family members can visit a college campus during the dead period. They just can’t have in-person contact with the coaches.
The fact that Carter’s family chose to stop by Gainesville despite not being able to see the staff shows what his interest is in Florida.
The Gators are in a dogfight with Georgia, but I’d say it’s pretty even going into the home stretch.
His official visit to UGA on Jan. 31 has to be concerning for Muschamp, though.
How UF closes
UF currently has 20 members in its 2014 class and 25 scholarships available. It doesn’t matter how many early enrollees get counted back toward the previous year. There’s only room for 25 signees.
I think athlete J.C. Jackson eventually decommits and offensive tackle Dontae Angus won’t qualify academically. His high school coach told me Angus may have to go to prep school, and he hasn’t heard from Florida since Tim Davis was fired Dec. 1.
That would put the Gators at 18 commits, and right now I see them landing Jackson, Prince, Eric Lauderdale and another receiver, a second quarterback, a defensive end and one more surprise pledge.
That’s all for this week! Be sure to leave your questions for the next mailbag in the comment section below.