With signing day behind us, it’s time to look back and see how the Gators coaching staff recruited this past season. Coming off of a 4-8 season, the coached had their hands full trying to sign a class that can help turn the program around and get the team back on track.
In part one of our three part series, we’ll go position-by-position and player-by-player, grading and talking about how each player will fit in on the team, how each player did or did not address a need and dissect just how good Florid’as 2014 recruiting class was.
(EE) Will Grier (6-2, 190, Davidson, NC, Davidson Day)
Grier is the future quarterback of the Florida Gators. Best-case scenario for Grier would be to redshirt, gain weight, and prepare for what promises to be a good career in Gainesville. Grier lit defenses up in high school, throwing for more than 14,000 yards. However, he would benefit from a year to sit on the sidelines, learning and growing.
While Grier would benefit from a redshirt, Jeff Driskel has proven to be less than sturdy the past three seasons. If Driskel were to go down with an injury and miss an extended period of time, expect Grier’s redshirt to be burned and the freshman to be thrown in as the starter ahead of Treon Harris or Skyler Mornhinweg.
Spivey’s Take: Grier has all of the tools to be a very talented quarterback in the SEC with his leadership abilities plus his tools as quarterback. Grier has a good arm and running ability to help him make plays out of nothing when a play breaks down.
Richard’s Take: The number one must-hit recruit in this class. He plays the most important position on the field but to me he’s a mystery. I’ve seen the arm strength and the accuracy, but I’ve seen it against competition that isn’t even at the top level in his own state. That’s not his fault, but I have my reservations on anointing Grier the second coming of Danny Wuerffel with a dash of Tim Tebow and a sprinkle of Steve Spurrier.
Muschamp’s Take: “Will Grier will do an outstanding job. You see he’s got all the intangibles to be successful as far as the leadership things and positively affecting guys around him.”
Treon Harris (5-11, 180, Miami, FL, Booker T. Washington)
The longtime Florida State commit flipped his commitment on signing day and that makes this commitment even sweeter for Gator fans. But don’t sell Harris short, he’s a great pickup for the Gators no matter what team he was committed to prior to signing with Florida.
In a perfect world, Driskel will stay healthy for the entire season, Grier will redshirt and Harris will get a package of plays and see action as a freshman. Harris has a good release and his athleticism is off the charts. He’s a playmaker that can help the Gators right away. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper will enjoy scheming ways to get Harris involved.
Spivey’s Take: Athlete is the best way to describe Harris as a quarterback as he simply makes plays. Harris has the tools to succeed at quarterback in Roper’s offense and is someone that I think Florida makes a package for in the game plan next year.
Richard’s Take: A flip many didn’t see coming until recent weeks but now he’s on campus (sort of). Some think he should move to another position, primarily because of his size, I disagree. His compact release and athleticism makes me think he’d be a good fit in any up-tempo system.
Muschamp’s Take: “Treon won two state championships there at Booker T, one of the best high school programs in the country.”
Biggest Get: Will Grier
Biggest Miss: None. The Gators got their man in Grier and adding Harris was the cherry on top.
Quality Grade: A+
Getting Will Grier was enough to make this grade an “A”, however adding Harris puts this haul over the top.
Quantity Grade: A
Tyler Murphy and Max Staver transferring left the Gators with two scholarship quarterbacks.
That’s a scenario that the University of Florida should never be in and the Gators did exactly what they needed to do. They found two quarterbacks and have some depth at a position that needed every bit of depth that it could muster a season ago.
Running back (1):
(EE) Brandon Powell (5-9, 175, Deerfield Beach, FL, Deerfield Beach)
Powell was the Florida 8A-7A-6A player of the year as a senior and a long-time Miami commit. The Gators didn’t have a lot of contact with Powell after Aubrey Hill (his main recruiter) left Florida abruptly two seasons ago. Roper changed that and made Powell a priority.
The small, shifty running back is a good fit for a spread, up-tempo offense and he should be a good complement to the stable of backs currently on the UF roster. Powell is already on campus working out with the team and will get a chance to make a good first impression this spring.
Spivey’s Take: Powell is a shifty running back that will do very well in the spread offense under Kurt Roper. Powell is also a very good receiver out of the backfield that the quarterback can check down too.
Richard’s Take: A scat back that signals in a slight changing of the guard in Florida’s offensive system, he is the kind of guy you give the ball to in space and watch go to work.
Muschamp’s Take: “I’m excited about Brandon Powell, a guy that’s got great speed, he’s a dynamic guy with the ball in his hands, a guy that was on our radar. We were really going in the class wanting to sign one back, and you’ve gotta continue to recruit because of things you never know may happen.”
Biggest get: Brandon Powell
Powell is a very good player despite being small in stature. Florida has had success with backs like him in a spread offense but I’m not sure if Powell is a big difference maker.
Biggest miss: Dalvin Cook
This one hurt, not only the way that Cook led Gator fans on a wild goose chase but also because there is no replacing him. He was the best running back in the state and one of the top three backs in the entire country in my opinion. Oh well, onward and upward for the Gators who will visit Cook’s Seminoles on November 29 of this year.
Quality Grade: B –
Powell is a solid player and fits well into the system. He’s going to need to add a little size while maintaining the speed and quickness that make him the player he is. He is a good complementary piece to Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown and Matt Jones, when he comes back from his injury.
However, he’s not the difference maker that Cook would have been. I don’t want to harp on a player that isn’t in the class, its’ time to move on.
Powell is a good pickup.
Quantity Grade: A
The Gators will have six scholarship running backs (seven if Mark Herndon remains on scholarship) and that is a very safe number.
Deiondre Porter (6-0, 162, Tampa, FL, Jefferson)
Porter played quarterback in high school but that isn’t where he projects to play at Florida. An ultra-athletic prospect, Porter’s future likely lies on the defensive side of the football in the secondary. Porter acknowledged that he is willing to play wherever the Gators need him and wouldn’t take exception to playing either defensive back or receiver.
I see Porter as a long-term project for the Gators. He has a long lanky frame that he will need to put some size and weight on. He has raw talent but a position change is in his future and it will take him some time to adjust to a new position and the speed of the college and SEC game.
Spivey’s Take: Porter can play receiver, quarterback and cornerback and with his speed he’s surely going to find a place on the Gators team in the next couple of years.
Richard’s Take: A quarterback by trade, he won’t play that position in Gainesville. He projects as a DB at 6-2. Has sprinter’s athleticism and very good strides.
Muschamp’s Take: “Deiondre is a guy that we knew about down at Tampa Jefferson High School, and I love being able to sign guys that are quarterbacks to play different positions.”
Biggest get: Deiondre Porter
Porter is a solid prospect but a player who will take some time to acclimate to college. He needs to pack on the pounds and
Biggest miss: Adoree’ Jackson
Jackson elected to stay out west and attend USC. Jackson’s recruitment was a mystery right up until the very end but the Gators fell short of bringing the two-sport star to campus.
Quality Grade: C
Porter is a project. He will take time to acclimate to a new position and adjust to the speed of the game. He has a lot of natural, raw ability but it will be up to him and the coaches to get the most out of that raw ability.
Quantity Grade: A
Porter will play cornerback for the Gators. Florida is loaded in the class at corner and did a good job to make up for the losses that Florida suffered this offseason.
Wide Receiver (2)
Ryan Sousa (6-0, 177, Orlando, FL, Lake Nona)
The signing of Sousa made a lot of sense in Florida’s pro-style offense. Sousa is a possession receiver who runs crisp routes and has sure hands. I’m not sure if Sousa is a great fit for a spread offense but even spread offenses have a place for possession receivers. David Nelson comes to mind (he’s a lot shorter than Nelson).
Sousa will fit in as a slot receiver and he’s a solid prospect to keep an eye on.
Spivey’s Take: Sousa is a possession receiver in my opinion but after leading the state in catches and touchdowns the past two years he has proven he has good hands and the ability to get open.
Richard’s Take: Sure handed in the slot with a dash of elusiveness make Sousa a decent receiver. Not a game breaker by any means, but will move the chains and can pick you up a few YAC on a quick slant
C.J. Worton (6-1, 175, Homestead, FL, South Dade)
Worton is a slot receiver and more of a possession receiver in my mind. Worton is tough to bring down with the ball in his hands but he has good speed, can make people miss and run away from them. He reminds me of a smaller Riley Cooper.
Spivey’s Take: A slot receiver is what Worton is but he has the knack of getting open in the defense and making things happen after the catch with his speed. Worton is a good player with toughness.
Richard’s Take: Another slot receiver but a quicker one than Sousa. Worton can move on the inside and create mismatches with bigger outside linebackers or less athletic safeties.
Quality Grade: C
I really like Worton’s potential and think he could make an impact quickly during his career. Florida is still looking for playmakers at receiver and I’m not sold that either of these are the home run that Florida needed in this cycle.
Quantity Grade: A
Taking two here means the Gators will have 11 scholarship receivers on the team and the more the merrier for Roper.
Muschamp’s Take: “Two slot receivers in Ryan and C.J., a little different than what we’ve signed last season. Alvin [Bailey] is kind of similar to them, but good change‑of‑direction guys. You know, Ryan caught over 100 passes, and C.J. was as competitive a guy in the state championship game as you’ll ever see, three touchdown catches in the state title game there for South Dade.
Biggest Get: C.J. Worton
Worton is a solid player with decent size. He has potential to compete for playing time in the slot as a freshman.
Biggest Loss: Ermon Lane
Lane officially flipped to Florida State on signing day but it was a decision that he made a long time ago and the Florida coaching staff knew that. This didn’t come as a surprise but Lane is a talented player and Florida needs more talent on offense.
In part two we will go over the cornerbacks and tight ends.