Last August as Florida set out to defend its BCS National Championship, there weren’t any teams around the nation that could boast what the Gators had coming back on defense – a starter and a reserve at each of the 11 positions.
Anticipating that the National Football League would come calling, the Gators coaching staff recruited heavily. NFL clubs drafted nine Florida players, including five defenders, three of whom had eligibility remaining in cornerback back Joe Haden (first round, Cleveland), defensive end Carlos Dunlap (second round, Cincinnati) and free safety Major Wright (third round, Chicago). Seniors Jermaine Cunningham (defensive end) and Brandon Spikes (middle linebacker) were both selected in the second round by the New England Patriots.
Those losses left Florida with six starters returning for 2010, and the Gators addressed some of those holes by recruiting 15 defenders in its 2010 class of 27. In fact, Florida’s top six prospects in its Class of 2010 were defenders – defensive end Ronald Powell, defensive tackles Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd, safeties Matt Elam and Jonathan Dowling and cornerback Joshua Shaw.
Graduation and the NFL will take their share of Gators in 2011, so it isn’t surprising that Florida is putting a focus on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. Don’t be surprised if the Gators’ Class of 2011 has a defensive flavor to it.
In today’s Briefing Room, we take a look at Florida’s draft prospects on defense as well as give you an idea about where the Gators stand with athletes and specialists for their Class of 2011 that becomes official on National Signing Day Feb. 2.
Read the rest of our exclusive, members-only Insider Recruiting Forum: