There was not a more happening place in college football Saturday night than The Swamp. It was Florida-Miami, a record crowd rocking Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, probably 10,000 or more outside looking for tickets, the College GameDay crew and an ESPN national television audience.
BY JASON PUGHE and JUSTIN WELLS
Yes, The Swamp was THE place to be for recruits and it was one of the most impressive lists of recruits that you’ll ever see at one game.
The news coming out from this past weekend’s contest hasn’t been really earth-shattering. There were over 200 prospects in attendance and the Florida staff did the best it could to make sure everyone felt welcome.
Obviously, the 2009 class took precedent over the 2010 class. That’s to be expected as the Gators have to fill approximately nine slots remaining for a class that should number 18. There weren’t any 2009 commitments but that’s because almost every 2009 prospect remaining on the Florida board wants to take a few official visits before making a decision.
We’re neither alarmed by the lack of commitments or that the 2009 recruits are looking to take more visits. The most important thing to pass along is that both the Florida staff and the 2009 recruits are very comfortable with where they are in the recruiting process.
Despite not making it in for a visit with teammate Cassius McDowell (5-9, 165, Deerfield Beach), quarterback Denard Robinson (6-0, 176, Deerfield Beach) is still one of the top prospects left on Florida’s board. We wouldn’t read too much into the Deerfield Beach duo not making it in, as they couldn’t find a ride to the game. The original plan was to have Robinson’s mom drive both Robinson and McDowell up but that fell through. Robinson is the only QB who is still being recruited for the 2009 class. All of the talk about Eugene Smith (6-3, 182, Miramar) back on the board is false.
Jon Bostic (6-1, 218, Wellington, Palm Beach Central) is another guy coveted on Florida’s board. As our own Cody Jones reported Bostic’s dad actually played high school football at Titusville Astronaut with Gator legend Wilber Marshall. Another tidbit about Bostic is that he is friends with 2010 WR Chris Dunkley (5-10, 165, Royal Palm Beach). The two played against each other last year as Dunkley had a big game against Bostic’s Palm Beach Central team. With Bostic at linebacker, things could get very interesting if Jarvis Jones (6-3, 226, Columbus, Ga. Carver) and Frankie Telfort (5-11, 205, Miami Gulliver Prep) also want to come on board. I can see a scenario where all three would like to come to Florida, but it’s not likely in our opinion.
The Seminole Three are still being heavily recruited but wide receiver Andre DeBose (6-0, 182, Sanford Seminole), safety Ray Ray Armstrong (6-4, 215, Sanford Seminole) and defensive end Dyron Dye (6-5, 220, Sanford Seminole) aren’t saying a whole lot. Gator Country’s Brett Williams spoke briefly with Dye but again he didn’t say too much. Right now the general consensus is that Armstrong and Dye are headed to Miami. Without hearing it from them, it’s just pure speculation. They enjoyed the game and had a good time, but we’re not ready to concede them to Miami just yet. Based on what we’ve heard and the fact that Armstrong and Dye appear to be the closest out of the three, we do think it’s likely that they both will go to the same school.
Based on everything we’ve heard, we feel good about DeBose at this time. For all three it’s really going to come down to Miami and Florida in our opinion. While the draw of playing with his childhood friends should they choose to go to Miami could be too much, at this time Miami’s depth chart isn’t any more appealing than Florida’s. According to sources close to the Seminole High School program, their decision will come down to playing early. I was also told that they all really liked USC and they would have been more of a factor if they were closer to home.
Aside from Dye, the Gators are also heavily after defensive end Ryne Giddins (6-4, 235, Seffner Armwood). Giddins didn’t make it to the Miami game on Saturday but that’s not a big deal. He has plenty of other chances to come for a visit and after his two-sack performance on Friday against Plant it’s easy to see why he’s such a valuable target for Florida. After this past Friday, Giddins is now the top prospect on the board. If Florida should miss out on Giddins and/or Dye, look for Kendric Johnson (6-4, 215, Palmetto) to get an offer. An offer to defensive end Ed Stinson (6-4, 227, Homestead South Dade) is completely false, just internet buzz. The Florida State commit is a freak and is someone who would likely get more attention but he has some work to do in the classroom first.
At defensive tackle, the Gators are still recruiting Curtis Porter (6-0, 220, Charlotte, N.C. Victory Christian), Antwan Lowery (6-4, 335, Miami Columbus) and now Isaac Holmes (6-3, 295, Hoboken, N.J.). Holmes came in for an official this past weekend and it is our belief that the first one to commit will most likely fill the spot for 2009.
Wait and See
Lineman Xavier Nixon (6-6, 265, Fayetteville, N.C. Jack Britt) had a great visit but he’s going to take some time before he decides. We can’t elaborate much on this until after National Signing Day in February, but we don’t believe Miami will ultimately be much of a factor for him. We feel right now it’s Notre Dame, Clemson, Florida, LSU, North Carolina and North Carolina State that are all in it. North Carolina State is the darkhorse in our opinion with Florida, LSU, Notre Dame and Clemson probably looking in the best shape.
Orson Charles (6-2, 215, Tampa Plant) and Darion Howard (6-4, 225, Cedar Falls, Iowa) are the two names at tight end if Florida decides it wants another. Ideally, Florida is looking for a tight end with exceptional blocking skills.
At the wide receiver board, there are a number of names out there after DeBose. Jheranie Boyd (6-2, 185, Gastonia, N.C. Ashbrook), Marlon Brown (6-4, 205, Memphis, Tenn. Harding Academy), Rantavious Wooten (5-10, 160, Belle Glade Glades Central), Josh Robinson (5-10, 180, Plantation), Stedman Bailey (5-10, 183, Miramar) are players to watch. We put Boyd on this list as he could dictate a lot of movement if he decides to go elsewhere. The only big wide receiver who would be left on the board is Marlon Brown, and it might open the door to take a smaller WR like Wooten.
At cornerback, it’s the same thing with Greg Reid (5-9, 175, Valdosta, Ga. Lowdnes) most likely headed to offense, and aside from Michael Carter (5-11, 160, Pompano Beach Ely) there are a number of cornerbacks on the board such as Jamal Reid (6-1, 175, Mayo Lafayette). After this weekend, Carter has Florida and Miami at 50-50, and if he does decide to go to Miami, you could see Florida not get a cornerback in this class.
The Look Out
One name to look out for is linebacker Zeke Motta (6-2, 210, Vero Beach). He’s a solid player and could possibly be a much bigger recruiting target very soon. Another name to watch is Marcus McNeal (6-0, 180, Bradenton Lakewood Ranch). If he continues to work hard in the classroom, he could be a much bigger target.
The last name to continue to monitor is Rodney Scott (5-9, 185, Cross City Dixie County). With Jamaal Berry (5-10, 185, Miami Palmetto) and Trent Richardson (5-11, 220, Pensacola Escambia) both committed elsewhere and the fact that they didn’t come this past Saturday, it looks pretty bleak for these two. They will continue to be recruited hard, but Scott is a guy the staff will continue to evaluate.
Cornerback Lo Wood (5-10, 170, Apopka) didn’t really start to look at Florida until after Friday Night Lights. He had Auburn as his No. 1 school but fell in love with Florida after FNL. Truth be told, if he had an offer at FNL he would have committed. He did receive a lot of attention at the Georgia game versus Georgia Southern and just really enjoyed his time in Athens. Right now, it’s Auburn and Georgia ahead of Florida and Notre Dame. There’s plenty of time for this to play out, however, as Florida hasn’t offered any 2010 cornerbacks.
Linebacker-safety Marvin Robinson (6-1, 210, Eagle Lake Lake Region) had a great time, and as we’ve been saying for awhile, we don’t expect him to leave the state. His mom will follow him wherever he decides to go and we were told by a close source that he can’t see them leaving the state. Robinson’s coach is an Ohio State fan but wants him to stay in state so he could see him play more.
Wide receiver Chris Dunkley (5-10, 170, Royal Palm Beach) has an offer right now that isn’t pending on what other people do. He could commit today and be a Gator.
Craig Sanders (6-4, 235, Ariton, Ala.) visited Saturday and he’s a big defensive end from Alabama to keep an eye on in the future.
Wide receivers Ricardo Miller (6-2½, 203, Orlando Dr. Phillips) and Kenny Shaw (6-1, 170, Orlando Dr. Phillips) had a great time. Shaw has three touchdowns in two games for the Panthers and Miller has a UF offer. Florida moved up Miller’s list but he wants to see a Michigan game to compare the experience. We feel that Michigan leads but this situation looks a lot better than it did a couple of weeks ago.
Louis Nix (6-2½, 297 Jacksonville Raines) is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation for next year. Recently, Nix received a Florida offer and 2010 commitment Ian Silberman (6-5, 251, Fleming Island) was seen working Nix hard at the game. We were told something today that made us feel really good about Nix. He’s 50-50 between Florida and Miami, but we feel that in the end Florida will be tough to beat.
There’s three other elite Class of 2010 prospects who Florida feels pretty good about right now and that’s safety Gideon Ajagbe (6-1, 192, Everglades Ransom), safety Matt Elam (6-0, 180, Palm Beach Dwyer) and Corvin Lamb (5-10, 180, Miami Northwestern). Lamb grew up a Florida State fan but felt snubbed at the Seminole Showtime camp in July. After this weekend, he’s really excited about the Gators.
Tight ends Gerald Christian (6-3, 225, Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer) and Brian Vogler (6-7, 240, Columbus, Ga. Creekside) were both in attendance for the game and a pair of impressive physical specimens to say the least. Christian also plays linebacker but projects primarily as a big-time receiving threat on offense. Vogler is a two-sport star who also excels on the hardwood. He is a self-avowed Gator fan who could be a big-time red-zone threat with his tremendous height, but could possibly grow into an offensive tackle with his massive frame.
Last, but not least, Jeffrey Whitaker (6-3, 285, Warner Robbins, Ga.) is a big-time prospect who many Georgia observers believe to be the top defensive tackle prospect in the state for the Class of 2010. He already holds an offer from UF and will get the full-court press from the Gator staff. Don’t get your hopes up, however, as Whitaker figures to end up a ‘Dawg sooner rather than later.