Almost as quickly as the late Lawrence Welk could say, “A-One and a-two,” the Florida Gators struck gold twice in the hours before Friday Night Lights.
Just shortly after mid-afternoon Friday, Urban Meyer and his staff received verbal commitment No. 11 from offensive tackle Trip Thurman (6-6, 305, Dover, Del. / Dover), the Florida Panhandle chipped in with verbal No. 12 when cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (5-11, 170, Pensacola, Fla. / Pine Forest) gave a nod to the guys in Gainesville. Both Thurman and Purifoy were in town for Florida’s annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
It’s been five long years, but the Gators finally are back in the recruiting wars in Pensacola. It’s not like the Gators didn’t try. Just 18 months ago, Florida coach Urban Meyer made as dogged of a pursuit as he ever has going after a prospect in his pursuit of running back Trent Richardson, now a star for the Crimson Tide heading into his sophomore year in Tuscaloosa.
But finally, the efforts of the Florida staff have paid off. Although the news comes as little surprise, the Gators nabbed the commitment of fast-rising defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy, who committed to the Gators while on campus proceeding the real fireworks just before festivities at Friday Night Lights were scheduled to begin.
“They were always interested in me from the beginning, before any other schools offered,” Purifoy said of the Gators. “I really love the way they run the coaches, their team, and the way they run their program.”
Even the man who has helped get the word out on Purifoy this summer said it wasn’t hard to see this result coming in the end.
“He had some other schools coming after him, but when you have a stack of (Gators) hats in your room it’s kind of hard to say no to the team you grew up rooting for,” said Donte Sheppard of Above and Beyond Athletics. He has worked with Purifoy extensively over the summer as they made an effort to get the under-the-radar prospect some attention.
Purifoy originally turned heads in Gainesville following a stellar performance at a session of the Urban Meyer Football Camp last month. After impressing Florida assistant coach Chuck Heater in a number of one-on-one drills, the Gators made the decision to extend an offer. The staff, however, did not push for a commitment as first. Sheppard thinks that changed as Purifoy’s profile starting to grow with offers coming in from a number of SEC programs. Florida State looked to be on the verge of making an offer as well.
“I think they started pushing a lot harder when they saw Alabama and Auburn offered,” he said. “They didn’t want to lose another prospect out of the (Pensacola) area to those guys.”
Although he played mostly as a running back for Pine Forest last fall, Purifoy will see plenty of action on both sides of the field this fall. He is expected to see time at both quarterback and safety for the Eagles in 2010.
“You might not see me leave the field the entire season,” Purifoy explained with just a hint of sarcasm. He’s right though. He probably won’t get much of a rest this fall.
As for what position Purifoy will play in Gainesville, while it seems Florida originally pegged him to play safety, his spot could still be up for debate.
“It’s possible he could play free safety too, but they will test him at both spots. When we took (Loucheiz) to Alabama and Auburn, both schools liked him at cornerback. No talk of safety ever came up.”
So, the Gators add a mobile and versatile defender to the 2011 class in Purifoy. A player who thinks his plan to get on the field as soon as possible.
“I’m going to go in with the idea that I’m going to start right away. That’s the only way I know how to operate.”
Only time will tell how long the Florida coaches can actually keep a player off the field, who doesn’t figure to leave it too much for the remainder of this year.
FLORIDA’S VERBAL COMMITMENTS FOR 2011
1. De’Ante Saunders, DB, 5-10, 185, DeLand, Fla. / DeLand H.S. (October 2009)
2. A.C. Leonard, TE, 6-3, 238, Jacksonville, Fla. / University Christian H.S. (November 2009)
3. Jeoffrey Pagan, DE, 6-3, 270, Asheville, N.C. / Asheville H.S. (April 2010)
4. Jeff Driskel, QB, 6-4, 225, Oviedo, Fla. / Hagerty H.S. (April 2010)
5. Javares McRoy, WR, 5-9, 170, Lakeland, Fla. / Lakeland H.S. (Decommit from Texas Tech, verbal to Florida June 2010)
6. Hunter Joyer, FB, 5-11, 250, Tampa, Fla. / Tampa Catholic H.S. (June 2010)
7. Tommy Jordan, OL, 6-5, 290, Ridgefield, Conn. / Ridgefield H.S. (June 2010)
8. Ryan Shazier, OLB, 6-1, 205, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / Plantation H.S. (June 2010)
9. Ja’Juan Story, WR, 6-3, 190, Brooksville, Fla. / Nature Coast H.S. (June 2010)
10. Kyle Christy, P, 6-2, 185, Brownsburg, Ind. / Brownsburg H.S. (June 2010)
11. Trip Thurman, OT, 6-6, 305, Dover, Del. / Dover
12. Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, 5-11, 170, Pensacola, Fla. / Pine Forest