Gators 2014 Recruiting Needs: Defense

Florida signed 15 defenders out of the 29 players they signed overall last year, but the Class of 2014’s numbers on the defensive side of the ball may be a bit lower.

Last week Gator Country took a look at the offensive needs, and this week we will break down the defense side of the ball.

Defensive Ends: Need 2-3

Committed Prospects: None


Norcross (Ga.) High defensive end Lorenzo Carter — He said Ohio State is high on his list, but he admits to growing up a Gators fan. Carter plans to visit Florida this spring and he is a top target for this year so you can expect the full-court press on him.

Woodbridge (Va.) Senior defensive end Da’Shawn Hand — The 6-foot-4, 245-pund Hand is the consensus No. 1 prospect in the country and has a good relationship with defensive line coach Brad Lawing. Hand named Florida in his top 5 and said he will visit Gainesville this summer.

Mobile (Ala.) Vigor defensive end Justin Thornton — He is the top Buck prospect on the board and loves Florida. Thornton does have some academics to fix, but Will Muschamp and his staff are sticking beside and want him in the class.

Opp (Ala.) High defensive end Denzel Ware — The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Ware is committed to Kentucky but has a lot of interest in the Gators. Ware said he will visit Florida this spring, and if he does, the Gators have a good chance of flipping him.

New Orleans (La.) Edna Karr defensive end Gerald Willis — He has Florida and LSU ahead early on. The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Willis has some pressure to stay in-state, but he loves the coaching staff.

Defensive Tackles: Need 2-3

Committed Prospects: None


Chesapeake (Va.) Oscar Smith defensive tackle Andrew Brown — The 6-foot-4, 292-pound Brown has Florida in his top 10 and said he will visit this summer. Brown much like Hand has a good relationship with Lawing.

Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade Madonna defensive tackle Khairi Clark — He has been in contact with the coaching staff a lot and has set up a visit to Florida for a spring practice. Clark hasn’t named any leaders, but the Gators are high on his list early on.

Brooklyn (N.Y.) Abraham Lincoln defensive tackle Thomas Holley — The 6-foot-5, 290-pound Holley was offered by UF just last week and said he will visit Florida in March or April. Holley has said he is impressed by the Gators’ defense and likes the weather.

Carrollton (Ga.) High defensive tackle Dontavius Russell — He visited Florida last Saturday and had a good visit, saying it was his best visit so far. Russell said he plans to return again, and if he does, that will help the Gators’ chances.

Linebackers: Need 2-3

Committed Prospects: Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley linebacker Christian Miller committed to Florida during junior day and is a solid commitment. Miller and Lawing have a good relationship.


Ponte Vedra (Fla.) High linebacker Dillon Bates — The Tennessee legacy visited Florida for junior day and had a good visit but Tennessee will be tough to beat for Bates. Texas is also a serious contender for Bates.

Montgomery (Ala.) Carver linebacker Shaun Dion-Hamilton — The 6-foot-1, 222-pound Hamilton likes Florida a lot, but Auburn signed his teammate last year and will be a big threat.

Joilet (Ill.) Plainfield South linebacker Clifton Garrett — The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Garrett is one of the top linebackers in the Class of 2014 and just picked up a Gators offer last week. Garrett plans to visit Florida this summer and likes the SEC.

Hinesville (Ga.) Liberty County linebacker Raekwon McMillan — He visited Florida for junior day and the visit was a successful one for him. McMillan has Ohio State and Clemson ahead right now but has said that he is taking a harder look at Florida.

Mobile (Ala.) St. Pauls linebacker Tre Williams — He has a top 5 of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State and USC and will visit the Gators this spring. Williams is one of the top linebackers on Florida’s board for the Class of 2014.

Cornerback: Need 3

Committed Prospects: Cross City (Fla.) Dixie County cornerback Duke Dawson is a solid commit to Florida and was at most of the Gators’ game last season.


Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County cornerback Kalvaraz Bessent — The 6-foot-1, 188-pound Bessent visited Florida last week and named Florida his early leader. Bessent is still a long way from making a decision, but the Gators are in good shape.

Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy cornerback Jalen Tabor — He has Florida in his top group and visited this past summer. The Gators want the 6-foot, 181-pound Tabor to visit again soon.

Marietta (Ga.) High cornerback D.J. Smith — The 6-foot, 180-pound Smith has visited Florida several times and likes the Gators a lot. Georgia is also making a push for Smith as of late.

Safeties : Need 0-1

Committed Prospects: None


Virginia Beach (Va.) High safety Quin Blanding — He is the top safety target but will announce his decision this week. Virginia is his likely destination. However, Lawing has a good relationship with Blanding and will continue to recruit him.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.