February 6, 2013. National Signing Day.
As we come to an end of the 2013 recruiting cycle, it is easy to get caught up in who is left on the board for the Gators: wide receiver James, Clark, defensive end Jay-Nard Bostwick, defensive tackle Jaran Reed and defensive end Tashawn Bower.
The Gators could sign zero, one, two, three or four of those names tomorrow and all would be welcome with open arms into Florida’s already stellar recruiting class.
However, as the class closes down on another rollercoaster recruiting period, it is easy to get caught up in the now and forget what happened just one month ago.
Almost one month ago on Jan. 7, four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson announced that he would be enrolling early at Florida, ending an epic back-and-forth with the Clemson Tigers. Robinson, who was committed to Clemson, Florida and Clemson before announcing for Florida, again. Robinson, who is one of the best possession, X-receivers in the class, was able to get on campus in time for spring workouts and practice, making him a very viable candidate for significant playing time in the Gators’ lackluster receiving corp.
Robinson, who was not expected to ultimately end up a Gator should be counted as a huge National Signing Day surprise, even though his decision was more than a month ago. Enrolling in January gives Robinson a leg up on current committments Ahmad Fulwood and Marqui Hawkins, who are similar wide receivers.
However, the biggest surprise was linebacker Alex Anzalone, who spurned the Notre Dame Fighing Irish on the very last possible day. On Jan. 10, Anzalone announced instead of driving to South Bend, Ind., the next day he would, in fact, be driving to Gainesville, Fla. Anzalone, who was also previously committed to the Ohio State Buckeyes, flirted with his father’s alma mater throughout the recruiting process. However, it was an 11th-hour change when Brian Kelly interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles that Anzalone said pushed him over to the Gators.
The five-star prospect is diverse in his skill set and play both inside and outside linebacker positions. He is one of three linebackers who enrolled early joining Daniel McMillian and Matt Rolin, but only Anzalone and McMillian stand a chance to play in 2013 as Rolin recovers from ACL surgery. For linebackers coming straight from college, the extra semester of practice and weightlifting can mean the world to their immediate success.
Therefore, no matter what happens as the faxes come rolling in, remember the Gators’ already have two of the biggest surprises of any school in America.