With some help from Recruitnik Ryan Moss, here is some information and a few feelings I have for Wednesday’s National Signing Day. Gator Country.com will be all over the action Wednesday, starting in the chat room at 6 a.m. The Gator Country TV gang will be at Gator’s Dockside in Gainesville for a live 3-hour show beginning at 11 a.m. Florida head coach Urban Meyer will have his press conference at 1 p.m. and we will continue our recruiting coverage in the afternoon and early evening, wrapping the day up with another GCTV broadcast at 9 p.m. Make sure you come and join us either live at Gator’s Dockside or via http://www.gatorcountry.com.
FLORIDA’S CLASS OF 2009
The following 16 players, including eight among the ESPNU 150 (the number in parentheses), have given verbal commitments to Florida and are expected to follow up Wednesday by signing their national letters of intent and faxing them to the Florida football office. This class is currently ranked No. 5 in the nation by ESPN/Scouts, Inc.
Andre Debose (17), WR, 6-0, 180, Sanford, Fla. (Seminole)
Gary Brown (23), DT, 6-3, 275, Quincy, Fla. (West Gadsden)
Xavier Nixon (51), OT, 6-6, 263, Fayetteville, N.C. (Jack Britt)
Nick Alajajian (61), OG, 6-4, 280, Naples, Fla. (Naples)
Joe Bostic (109), OLB, 6-1, 218, Wellington, Fla. (Palm Beach Central)
Nu’Keese Richardson (112), WR, 5-11, 160, Pahokee, Fla. (Pahokee)
Mike Gillislee (129), RB, 6-0, 190, DeLand, Fla. (DeLand)
Jordan Reed (142), QB, 6-3, 230, New London, Conn. (New London)
Dee Finley, S, 6-2, 206, Auburn, Ala. (Milford Academy, N.Y.)
Marsalis Teague, ATH, 5-10, 170, Paris, Tenn. (Henry County)
Desmond Parks, TE, 6-6, 215, Greer, S.C. (Greer Senior)
Kedric Johnson, DE, 6-4, 220, Palmetto, Fla. (Palmetto)
Kyle Koehne, OG, 6-6, 290, Indianapolis, Ind. (Cathedral)
Jonotthan Harrison, OG, 6-4, 290, Groveland, Fla. (South Lake)
Jon Halapio, OG, 6-4, 302, St. Petersburg, Fla. (Catholic)
Edwin Herbert, DT, 6-3, 290, Fairfield, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
NOTE: Herbert, Harrison, Alajajian, Bostic, Finley and Parks have signed letters of intent and are currently enrolled in school to they can participate in spring practice.
Everything is go for Jon Halapio, who is expected to fax in his paperwork around 7:30 Wednesday morning and then have a 3:30 p.m. signing ceremony at St. Petersburg Catholic High School to celebrate with his family and fellow students. Coach Todd Creneti was quick to point out on the phone today that players like Halapio “don’t come around too often.” Creneti told me he was proud of how Halapio has represented his school, both on and off the field. Halapio started the season at right tackle, but moved inside to right guard midway through the season because of injuries. As Creneti pointed out, the move allowed Halapio to showcase his athletic ability and also play the position where he projects best at on the next level.
Offensive lineman Kyle Koehne gave his verbal to the Florida Gators back in October and since then has remained firmly committed. Come tomorrow around 7 a.m., Koehne will fax in his letter of intent to the Florida coaching staff, officially making him a Gator. The 6-6, 290-pounder from Indianapolis (Ind.) Cathedral is expected to compete for a spot behind Maurkice Pouncey at center when he arrives in the summer.
The plan tomorrow for Marsalis Teague and teammate Dominique Allen is to fax in their paperwork in the morning and then announce their decisions in front of a school assembly at Henry County High School in Paris, Tenn., around 1 p.m. Teague has verbally committed to the Gators, while Allen is in the LSU camp. The assistant coach I spoke with did not the exact time that the paperwork would be faxed in and wasn’t sure where Teague was leaning as of today. Gator Country hopes to have a correspondent at the ceremony, so we should be the first site to get comments from Teague at the press conference.
I don’t know if any of the talk of Gary Brown to Florida State was planned or not, but by 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, those fears should be put to rest. That’s when one of the top-rated defensive tackles in the country is set to sign with Florida. Brown’s father is making the trip up to Quincy to be with him for the ceremony, and we eagerly anticipate some quotes from that announcement.
Talk about making history. coach Kevin Pettis at DeLand told me Tuesday that running back Mike Gillislee will become the first player in DeLand High School history to sign Florida. He will send in his paperwork around 8 a.m. and will have a ceremony in front of the student body around lunch time.
After speaking with head coach Mike Cullison at Seminole High School Tuesday, everything looks to be a go for Andre Debose to sign early in the morning and then put on a Gator cap in front of a packed house of Seminoles (that’s the school’s nickname) at 9 a.m. His teammates Ray Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye are expected to sign with Miami (Fla.). Cullison told me he will be glad for this process to be over, but he will have to get started on it again as he has a tremendously talented group of underclassmen coming up as well.
I spoke briefly with Pahokee head coach Blaze Thompson, although he was a bit short with me, perhaps as a result of all the attention given to the “secret visit” that Nu’Keese Richardson took to Tennessee this weekend. The plan at Pahokee is that all of the paperwork will be faxed in before 10 a.m. Thompson has several players signing Wednesday, so obviously he is a busy man. Could his reluctance to speak have something to do with any possible wavering on the part of Richardson? Only time will tell.
Denard Robinson, QB, Deerfield Beach
According to the Deerfield Beach head coach Art Taylor, Robinson will be announcing his decision along with teammate Adrian Witty at a ceremony at the high school between 11 and 11:30 Wednesday morning. The official signing will come around 7:30 in the morning on a South Florida news station (Ch. 6) where Robinson and Witty will actually sign the necessary paperwork to make their decisions official. While Taylor would not elaborate on a decision by either player, he did believe both players had settled on their college destinations. According to Gator Country sources, there is a high level of confidence that Robinson will end up at Florida despite earlier reports that Robinson may be headed to Michigan along with his teammate Witty. Robinson’s pick: Florida
Trent Richardson, RB, Pensacola Escambia
Despite all the talk and conjecture on Richardson’s commitment being open, this one is signed and sealed. Florida did make an favorable impression with the official visit by Richardson to Gainesville a couple of weeks ago and then with the in-home visit by head coach Urban Meyer and assistant coach Kenny Carter. Ultimately I feel that the mountain to climb for Richardson was simply too much. Tomorrow afternoon at a 4 p.m. press conference at Escambia, everyone will know for sure. Richardson’s pick: Alabama.
Marlon Brown, WR, Memphis Harding Academy
From all indication, Florida is out of the mix. Brown never actually confirmed it to me, but Urban Meyer did not make that previously scheduled in-home visit with Brown and that seems to confirm the notion that the Gators will not be getting Brown’s signature. This one is really close because I feel it’s basically down to Georgia and Tennessee. Brown is the type of kid who thrives at USC, and with Lane Kiffin’s ties to that program, Tennessee seems to make sense as a decision. However, Brown hails from the Memphis area, which isn’t nearly as pro-Tennessee as the rest of the state. Throw in his long-standing relationship with the staff at Georgia, being friendly with heralded QB commit Aaron Murray and his friendship with fellow Memphis product and UGA commitment Austin Long, it definitely seems like UGA would be the pick here. Plus, the pickings are slim for quarterbacks at Rocky Top, and it would seem a slam dunk for Georgia. However, don’t dismiss the fact that UGA’s basketball program is struggling right now. Brown, who wants to play two sports on the next level, could be turned off by the situation at Georgia. He will make his pick on ESPNU Wednesday at 3:45 p.m. Brown’s pick: Georgia.
Orson Charles, TE, Tampa Plant
This is one decision that will go out past National Signing Day. If all goes to plan, Charles will visit USC this weekend after taking the ACT. However, if Charles doesn’t visit this weekend, he will not be able to make it out to Los Angeles until the weekend of Feb. 20, which should make things very interesting for his decision. That said, I don’t expect Charles to be a part of this class. Lots of rumors touch on Miami possibly getting back in the mix and Florida State being a favorite, but I think it’s clear where the top tight end and former teammate of Murray is head. Charles’ pick: Georgia.
Brandon Moore, DT, Montgomery, Ala. Carver
I’ve gone back and forth with Moore. I felt that Alabama was always the smart pick. Brown said last week he knew where he was going, and then he took a trip to Tennessee last weekend – a no-no for Alabama recruits who have committed. That made me think the big man out of Montgomery might have settled on the Gators. I’m set to talk to Moore tonight, and my pick could change later on in the day. Moore’s pick: Alabama.
Jelani Jenkins, ILB, Wheaton, Md. Good Shepard
The smoke has been out there for some time, and even Jenkins’ coach feels his star linebacker is a lean to Florida at the present time. However, the Penn State Nittany Lions can’t be discounted here. Larry Johnson Sr. recruits Maryland like few others and has built a great relationship with Jelani and his family. In the end, however, I have to think that all the good vibes in this race will play into the Gators’ hands. Look for Jelani to make his announcement on ESPNU shortly after 11 a.m. after which we will have an immediate reaction to his selection on Gator Country TV. Jenkins’ pick: Florida.
Jarvis Jones, OLB, Columbus, Ga. Carver
Long thought to be a Florida lean, Jones has gone quiet in recent weeks, saying very little to reporters on where he stands in his recruitment. While his head coach Dell McGee has become Jones’ spokesman in regards to recruiting, the cards have still been kept relatively close to the vest. Jones will make his announcement public at a 1:30 p.m. press conference at Carver High School. While not much information has snuck out of Georgia on this one, I feel confident in making the pick. Jones’ pick: Southern California.
Josh Evans, DB, Irvington, N.J.
Despite a good visit to Pittsburgh last weekend, Florida still looks to be the leader for Evans heading into National Signing Day. I spoke with Irvington coach Darnell Grant earlier Tuesday and the plan is for a 10:20 a.m. press conference at the school. I asked Grant if Evans had made his decision and the coach laughed before saying “maybe.” Well, I think his decision has been clear for several weeks now. Evans’ pick: Florida.
I don’t know why I allowed myself to be talked out of my original feeling following Greg Reid’s visit to Gainesville that he would end up at UGA. However, I did. Well, now I’m switching back. All the signs were there in Orlando, although I really didn’t want to see them. The picture that Reid took with the group of Gator commitments blinded us for a brief moment, but all the smoke says UGA for Reid, and I expect that the school he selects Tuesday night in Valdosta. … Jawanza Starling is an excellent student, and because of that, the rumor now says he will be selecting between Notre Dame and Southern California Wednesday. Georgia was long believed to be a frontrunner for the talented safety, but I believe a great visit to South Bend sealed the deal for the highly touted safety, and I’m picking the Fighting Irish on Wednesday when he makes the call. … The Alabama Crimson Tide should bring in quite a haul Wednesday. Not only do I think they will sign Florida targets Trent Richardson and Brandon Moore, but Bobbie Massie and Dre Kirkpatrick as well. For the second straight year, Alabama should contend for the top-rated class nationally. … Finally, look for Luther Robinson to pick UCF in an upset. I continue to hear from ‘Cane insiders that they just don’t feel Robinson will end up in Coral Gables. Florida has been bantered about as a possible destination, but I just don’t see it. Look for the Knights to score the big in-state upset here.