It didn’t take long into the first full day of the Urban Meyer Football Camp to bring about some big news as it relates to Florida on the recruiting trail.
The Gators secured the commitment of fullback Hunter Joyer (5-11, 250, Tampa, Fla. / Tampa Catholic) following a grueling half-hour workout in front of several coaches in the Swamp. Joyer went through a number of blocking drills under the watchful eye of Meyer and other members of the Florida staff. Although Joyer became tired at times in the sweltering heat, he continued to do everything asked of him, and he truly earned the offer that he so clearly coveted.
This fall will be Joyer’s fourth season as a starting running back and second at Tampa Catholic. As a freshman and sophomore, Joyer rushed for 1,699 yards and 24 touchdowns for Wesley Chapel behind a line that was anchored his brother Kamran, who is now a redshirt freshman left guard at Louisville.
Joyer then last June transferred to Tampa Catholic to become the fullback for running back Hank McCloud and quarterback Christian Green. McCloud (Furman) rushed for 1,566 yards, Green (Florida State) 777 and Joyer himself added 426 yards on 79 carries and six touchdowns. The powerful running attack took Tampa Catholic to the Class 2B state championship game where Jacksonville Bolles won 21-7.
Then last month, Joyer won the shot put at the FHSAA Class 2A track finals with a heave of 57 feet, 2¼ inches.
In itself, that Florida took Joyer is not totally shocking. He is one of the top fullbacks if not the top fullback in the country and brings a physical and versatile presence to the role. He has the size, the speed (he has been laser-timed at 4.75 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and the strength (500-pound bench press) to be an impact player at the position.
With two fullbacks already on the roster – redshirt junior Steve Wilks and redshirt sophomore T.J. Pridemore – there was really no need to bring in a fullback for the 2011 class. But that just speaks to Joyer’s ability as a player. His skill set was one the Florida coaches didn’t think they would find in the next year or two, and therefore he was accepted as the sixth commitment on the year to date for the Gators.
BENJAMIN WORKS OUT: Joyer’s commitment overshadowed an appearance at camp by Glades Central’s Kelvin Benjamin, a 6-6, 220-pound wide receiver/safety who put on a show in the afternoon workout in the Swamp, making an array of sensational catches.
The Florida staff was clearly excited to have Benjamin on campus and let him know it by cheering him on against defenders who were helpless to stop the giant wideout from making play after play.
Getting Benjamin on campus was half the battle, and the Gators appear to be in great shape at the present time to ultimately receive a verbal commitment from the top receiver in South Florida and possibly the nation. Another Glades Central product – rising sophomore CB/WR Will Likely (5-7, 155) – came up along with Benjamin and showed why he is a player who is already generating a lot of buzz in recruiting circles despite being a part of the Class of 2013.
A DUCK WADDLING?: Another South Florida product who made waves with his performance was none other than Jerrard Randall (6-1, 175, Hollywood, Fla. / Chaminade-Madonna), a recent commitment to the University of Oregon. That commitment seems shaky at best, however. Any offer made by Florida would have Randall looking long and hard at that decision.
Randall worked out at quarterback where he showed arm strength right on par with Florida quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel, and velocity that exceeds maybe anyone at the position in this class. Nonetheless, what really has Florida intrigued about Randall is his athletic ability, and the possibility he could end up playing elsewhere if he does not work out behind center. Randall also worked out for the Florida coaches at wide receiver and defensive back, and looked adept enough at either position that he may end up earning an offer from the Gators as an “athlete.” His situation should be one to keep an eye on.
ANOTHER QB SHINES: One other quarterback from South Florida who impressed – especially in the afternoon session – was underclassman Tyler Cameron (6-3, 210, Jupiter, Fla. / Jupiter), a member of the Class of 2012. Cameron has great size, big hands and the ability to really throw the ball well. Like most young guys, he still has some work to do, but he really showed something today at the Swamp. At this point, I would say he is as good of a choice as any for the top quarterbacks in the state when looking toward next year.
SPEEDY UNDERCLASSMEN: While Cameron was one underclassman who turned heads, another would be running back J.C. Coleman (Chesapeake, Va. / Oscar Frommel Smith), who starred alongside top-rated quarterback Phillip Sims (an Alabama signee in February) for the Tigers last year. Although smallish (about 5-6½, 170 pounds currently), Coleman is a well-built runner who rushed for 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns as a sophomore. He is a track star as well, having run the 400 meters in the 47-second range this year. Coleman’s father, Joel, reports that the pair are headed out to California for a track meet after they are done camping in Gainesville.
NORTH MARION TRIO: Any discussion of underclassmen would not be complete without mentioning the North Marion trio of running back Jamie Gilmore (5-6, 170), wide receiver Latroy Pittman (6-1, 200) and tight end Sean Price (6-4, 205). The three dominated the morning session, showing why Craig Damon has turned that program just a half-hour to the south of the Swamp in Citra into a power. After the session was over, Florida head coach Urban Meyer personally reaffirmed the verbal offer that Florida recently issued to Pittman in the spring, and the staff told Price he was “close” to getting an offer as well. Keep an eye on the Colts, as after knocking on the door of the State Finals in Orlando the past few years, they look to have the talent to finally knock it down this coming fall.
A CHANCE FOR SHOWERS: One other player to watch is Valdez Showers (5-11, 180, Madison Heights, Mich. / Madison), a player who recently emerged as a possibility on the board for the Gators. Showers, whose yellow cleats allowed him to really stand out down on the field, showed good tools for the defensive back position, and with it being clear that Florida could sign as many as four cornerbacks in this class, he has developed into a real possibility on the board as well at this time.
MAN OF STEEL: I’m not sure if he will fit into Florida’s plans, but George Maxey (6-0, 195, Jacksonville, Fla. / Raines) scored the highest this morning on the “eyeball” test. The versatile athlete, who could play running back, defensive back or potentially grow into a linebacker, is cut from granite and moves pretty well for someone as big as he is. Maxey is generating a lot of lower-level BCS interest, and whoever lands the young man will be getting a heck of a pickup in the First Coast product.