Now that Florida’s 2014 recruiting class is in the books, Gator Country’s staff takes a look at the who’s who among the newest Gators.
Most Likely To Be an All-American
Richard: Jalen Tabor. All the tangibles, the picture-perfect build of a Will Muschamp cornerback. With Muschamp’s coaching and talented defensive backs on campus to learn from, the sky is the limit for Tabor.
Andrew: Will Grier gets my vote because of the talent I think he can bring to Kurt Roper’s offense.
Nick: Jalen Tabor. Will Muschamp said Tabor is built the way cornerbacks should be built. That’s a pretty glowing comment from the head ball coach of a player that has yet to play a down for the Gators.
Most Likely To Be Drafted in the First Round
Richard: Will Grier. If he pans out, there is no more sought after position in football than quarterback. If he lives up to his lofty expectations he’ll have the best chance to be called by commissioner Goodell day one.
Andrew: Gerald Willis because pass rushing linemen are very hard to find. Willis had double digit sacks his senior year and Florida’s defense sets up well for a pass rushing defensive end.
Nick: Will Grier. NFL teams are always looking for three things; a franchise quarterback, a big left tackle to protect said quarterback and someone to rush the quarterback. See the trend there? Yeah, quarterbacks.
Most Likely to Start Early On
Richard: Jalen Tabor. Linemen more often than not do not start early in their careers if coaches can help it, so that automatically puts most of Florida’s class behind the eight ball. With Jeff Driskel at quarterback and Ryan Sousa or C.J. Worton unlikely to make an instant impact, Tabor has the talent and the opportunity on the depth chart to play early.
Andrew: Jalen Tabor because of his abilities plus the lack of a top cornerback not named Vernon Hargreaves.
Nick: Jalen Tabor. I think Tabor starts day one across from Vernon Hargreaves. The last cornerback to start their first career game? Marcus Roberson. Tabor will wear Roberson’s old No. 5 this season.
Best Social Media
Richard: Quincy Wilson: besides being probably the most active, Wilson also knows his recent Gator history. Do you remember that Joe Haden wore No. 12 as a freshman? No? Well, Quincy Wilson does and tweeted that he will wear No. 12 like the former Gator and Gator great, Joe Haden.
Andrew: C’yontai Lewis, Khairi Clark and Quincy Wilson all love social media but this award for me goes to Clark as he loves the retweet and favorite button.
Richard: J.C. Jackson: on the record he’s quiet and reserved but he’s a guy that lets his game do the talking, and it speaks 1,000 words.
Andrew: Nolan Kelleher. Kelleher was one of the guys who didn’t like to do interviews.
Nick: J.C. Jackson. Jackson is a funny, energetic and talkative kid. Just not with reporters.
Richard: C’yontai Lewis: guy has a mouth that moves at 100 words per second it seems. Very personal kid.
Andrew: C’yontai Lewis, simply because he loves to talk.
Nick: C’yontai Lewis. He’s funny, unapologetic and brash. If Lewis is thinking it, he’ll tell you about it. Lewis is good-natured and competitive and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. More on that in the very next category.
Best Moment of the Recruiting Cycle
Richard: Gerald Willis III: For the oh so awkward hat ceremony with an unhappy mother at the Under Armour Game. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, or so they say.
Andrew: This is a toss up for me between C’yontai Lewis Gator chomping Cam Newton or the look on people’s face when Gerald Willis committed to Florida over LSU. Willis wins this award for me.
Nick: The highlight of the recruiting cycle, for me, came early on when C’yontai Lewis sent a Gator chomp Cam Newton’s way after scoring a touchdown at the IMG 7-v-7 National Championship. Lewis later donned a Newton Auburn jersey and posed for picture with the one-time Gator quarterback.
The Nick Washington Recruiter of the Year Award
Richard: Khairi Clark: I went a little outside of the box with this one because Clark helped land an important prospect for Florida, best friend Thomas Holley, who flipped from Penn State late in the recruiting cycle. Clark sold Holley on dreams of a defensive line tandem that can wreak havoc.
Andrew: Quincy Wilson wins the award and he may have lost Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane but he helped with Treon Harris, C.J. Worton and was the main reason for Brandon Powell. Wilson simply recruited everywhere he went.
Nick: Quincy Wilson. Before you point out Ermon Lane and Dalvin Cook, Wilson was an ambassador for the University of Florida everywhere he went. He talked with Thomas Holley and Gerald Willis at the Under Armour All-American game and like Andrew said, was a big help with several other prospects.
Richard: Duke Dawson: a great kid from a great family. Always willing to talk to you, rarely did I see him during the recruiting cycle without a smile on his face.
Andrew: Jalen Tabor hands down wins this award for me. Tabor has the wild hair and the superman tattoo is funny as heck.
Nick: Duke Dawson. Dawson was upbeat throughout the process and is just a down to earth kid who made a commitment and stuck by it without all the drama.
Best Senior Season
Richard: C’Yontai Lewis: Yes I am fully prepared to grade a player’s entire season on one hit because this is my grading scale and I feel like it. I mean, c’mon folks most players go their whole lives without laying a block like this.
Andrew: Ryan Sousa. For the second straight year he led the state of Florida in receiving yards.
Nick: Uh, guys, Will Grier completed 70% of his passes for 4,989 yards and 77 touchdowns. That’s the obvious pick here.
Biggest Unknown Recruit
Richard: Travaris Dorsey: he’s such an unknown because his recruitment was so quiet. Only Dawson and Grier were committed before him and they had fanfare around them because one is a quarterback and the other is (relatively) local. Dorsey, an offensive lineman from Jacksonville, didn’t seem to make a peep of news when he gave a verbal commitment to Florida.
Andrew: Taven Bryan wins this award as Bryan is a guy that wasn’t talked about much with him being from Wyoming.
Nick: Taven Bryan. A lot of Gator fans were unaware of Bryan and can you blame them? Wyoming isn’t exactly a recruiting hotbed but fans will be pleasantly surprised once they see Bryan in pads.
Biggest Surprise Commitment
Richard: Taven Bryan: out of Wyoming, because nobody saw that one coming.
Andrew: Gerald Willis as nobody expected this one to happen for Florida. The Gators hadn’t signed a high school recruit out of the state of Louisiana since 2001.
Nick: Kavaris Harkless. Harkless was packed up and ready to enroll at Louisville before Charlie Strong’s departure led him to have a change of heart. Harkless had been committed to Louisville since April 16, 2013 before flipping to Florida and enrolling in January.
The Trenton Brown Larger Than Life Award
Richard: David Sharpe: he’s listed some places at 6-6, others 6-7 and even higher still at 6-8. After standing next to him at his commitment ceremony I don’t think you can go high enough with an estimate of Sharpe’s height.
Andrew: Khairi Clark as he looks to be the big nose tackle the Gators are looking for.
Nick: Also going to have to go with Khairi Clark. Listed at 6-2, 325-pounds, Clark is one large, large human being.
Richard: C’yontai Lewis: I gave him most talkative and in the world of high school recruiting coverage if they’re actually talking to you, it’s a good interview.
Andrew: Thomas Holley wins this award as every time you talked to Holley he gave good answers and very mature answers. Holley is a true student athlete.
Nick: C’yontai Lewis. Lewis has a ton of personality and no filter when you talk to him. He speaks what is on his mind and he’s not afraid to tell you exactly how he feels.
Most Likely Starter That Nobody Is Talking About
Richard: Drew Sarvary: not necessarily because of skill level, but out of necessity if players get hurt along the line. Also there’s an open spot at guard for someone to fill, it could be him.
Andrew: DeAndre Goolsby is a guy that I could see earning a role at tight end in the new offense under Roper.
Nick: J.C. Jackson. Jackson is probably the best athlete in the class and with that athleticism will come opportunity. Jackson could potentially start at receiver, cornerback or on special teams as a returner. The latter is most likely, in my opinion. Look for Jackson to make an immediate impact in the return game for the Gators.
Richard: Andrew Mike: a very sneaky good get out of Arizona with size (6-7) and most importantly, the technique already to play at his size. I think he has very good footwork and I forget how tall he really is because of his footwork.
Andrew: David Sharpe. He has the body of an NFL left tackle.
Nick: Thomas Holley. He is already an incredible football player despite having only played the game competitively for two seasons. Holley starts on his high school basketball team, which tells you the kind of athlete he is. He has so much to learn and the sky is the limit for him.
Richard: Adoree’ Jackson. This team needs playmakers and athletes on offense, in my opinion there is no better one in the 2014 class than (now) USC’s Jackson.
Andrew: Dalvin Cook because of the playmaking abilities he brings to the table.
Nick: Dalvin Cook. Gator fans may feel a certain way about the way Cook handled his recruitment, but after watching Cook interact with his teammates at practice, I believe he would be a good addition to any locker room. Cook is a tremendous talent but took time to work with the sophomore and freshmen running backs at practice and was the first player down the field to celebrate with the scout team when they scored a touchdown at the end of practice. Like Richard says, the Gators need playmakers on offense and there was none bigger, in my opinion, that Cook.
Most Loyal Commitment
Richard: Duke Dawson: it would be easy to give this to Grier but quarterbacks typically commit early so that was no surprise; but a talented DB sticking so firmly to his pledge even after going to Alabama and Florida State on visits? That’s loyal.
Andrew: Duke Dawson as he never wavered once from his commitment once he committed in January of 2013.
Nick: Duke Dawson. Grier was a close second but like Richard said, quarterbacks commit early and spots fill up quickly. Dawson took a visit to Alabama but Gator fans may not even know it because there was never any worry about where Dawson would end up.
Flipper’s Best Flip
Richard: Kavaris Harkless: Why? Not because of his talent (which I think is there, but he is just not the best lineman Florida signed) but because of his connection. He played at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, where one of the crown jewels of UF’s potential 2015 class resides, Jeffrey Holland. They also have a teammate that, while he may be solid to LSU, wouldn’t hurt to talk to while the coaches are on campus to see Holland. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, No. 1 player in the nation CB Kevin Toliver II.
Andrew: Treon Harris wins this award going away simply because of his bloodlines to Miami and his longtime commitment to Florida State.
Nick: Treon Harris. After losing out on Dalvin Cook and to a lesser extent Ermon Lane, Florida was able to get back at the school out west by taking away their coveted quarterback commit. The flip is more than just a stab at a rival, Harris is supremely talented and a player that can make an impact as a freshman.
Leader of the Recruiting Class
Richard: Will Grier: if he’s the QB1 of the future, he’ll be the leader by default.
Andrew: Will Grier was the guy texting everyone getting them ready for Florida and was a big twitter guy when guys committed.
Nick: Will Grier. For the above mentioned reasons. Grier was actively recruiting for Florida throughout the process and like Richard pointed out, he’s the quarterback of the future.