A lot of the top players in the country either list the Gators or have had the Gators listed among their favorite schools this summer. Florida is still very much in the running for a lot of good players, but the problem is limited numbers. The Gators have filled approximately half the scholarship slots they will have available on National Signing Day. For the Gators, it’s going to have to be a very selective process to narrow things down to get players who are an exact fit for the system.
Here is a look at the 2009-2010 recruits that I stay in touch with on a regular basis and here’s an August update of where they stand:
CLASS OF 2009
STEADMAN BAILEY, WR (5-10, 185, Miramar, FL): I haven’t been able to get in touch with Bailey but based on what I’ve heard it doesn’t sound like Florida is in the picture too much. Bailey isn’t as high on the Gators board as some other receivers and he seems more like a Plan B option. Right now he has said that he really likes USF and South Carolina.
JAAMAL BERRY, RB (5-11, 190, Miami, FL Palmetto): Last time I spoke with Berry he told me that Ohio State had jumped Florida and was his top school. But, I think it’s good news for the Gators that Berry hasn’t committed to Ohio State yet. Berry plans to take an official visit to Ohio State and several other schools in the fall. Berry’s mom will likely play a big role in his decision and perhaps she will convince her son to stay closer to home and go to Florida. If signing day was today, I think he would be a Buckeye but there is still plenty of time to change his mind.
MALCOLM BUSH, TE, (6-5, 235, Hackensack, NJ): Bush recently changed his commitment to Rutgers from a solid verbal to a soft verbal and is hoping to attract the attention of more big name schools. He has always considered Florida to be one of his top schools and I think if the Gators offer, Bush won’t turn them down.
MICHAEL CARTER, CB (6-1, 168, Pompano Beach, FL Ely): Carter has narrowed down his list to Florida, Miami, Georgia, Minnesota and West Virginia, but isn’t looking to make a decision anytime soon. He has a lot of family ties to Gainesville and therefore has been a frequent visitor all his life. But, with Florida already having a solid commitment from CB Greg Reid, I’m not sure there will be room in the class for Carter.
CHRIS FREEMAN, OL (6-9, 320, Dayton, OH Trotwood-Madison): This mammoth offensive lineman has said he is still wide open and hasn’t narrowed down his list at all. He visited Florida for the Gators spring game and had a great time. It’s possible that he will take a return trip in the fall, but pulling him away from the Big Ten will be hard to do.
TRAVIS HAWKINS, CB (5-11, 190, Gaithersburg, MD Quince Orchard): Haven’t been able to get in touch with Hawkins, who performed very well during Friday Night Light’s. I think there is some mutual interest but, I really don’t see him ending up at Florida.
GABE HOLMES, TE (6-5, 210, Ft. Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas): Very raw player who is a former basketball player. Holmes has only been playing football for two years but is fortunate enough to be coached by NFL Hall of Famer Cris Carter. This kid has a ton of potential. He could really excel in college with the right coaching especially if he can hit the weight room hard and put on more muscle. He really likes Florida, but doesn’t have an offer yet although that might change after his first couple games. If the Gators decide to take two tight ends, I think Holmes could be the second one. He might be a prime candidate for a redshirt.
ISAAC HOLMES, DT (6-3, 295, Hoboken, NJ): Holmes has cut his list down to Florida, Oklahoma, Maryland and Rutgers. Rutgers and Maryland seem most likely to land him. Florida has expressed interest in the past and may target him if things don’t work out with Antwan Lowery. Right now though, I doubt he will end up in this class.
JELANI JENKINS, LB (6-2, 205, Wheaton, MD Good Counsel): His father has been handling talking to reporters and hasn’t been giving out a whole lot of information. Jenkins and his dad visited several schools this summer including Michigan, Penn State, Southern Cal and Notre Dame. They had hoped to make it down South to see Florida and Miami but weren’t able to do that. It’s possible that Jenkins will use an official visit to see Florida, which would be great for the Gators. But, it looks like Jon Bostic is not only higher on Florida’s board but will likely be a Gator which may mean there is not enough room for Jenkins.
ANTHONY LALOTA, DE (6-5, 260, Princeton, NJ The Hun School): LaLota has been on the coaches’ radar for awhile and he comes from a state where Florida has had a lot of success lately. He said Florida is in his top seven along with Notre Dame, Michigan, Boston College, Virginia, Penn State and Rutgers. Florida has a good chance to land LaLota but I think he decides to play his college ball up north.
ANTWAN LOWERY, DT (6-4, 330, Miami, FL Columbus): When defensive tackle Curtis Porter decided to commit to Miami that really changed things for Lowery. It looked as if Porter would be a Gator and Lowery a Cane, but now that could very easily switch. Lowery has put Florida back up at the top of his list with Rutgers and Miami, even though Porter is committed to the Canes. He plans on visiting Florida for the Miami game, which will also be his first college game ever. The Gators have a great chance to pull Lowery out of Miami and pairing him with current defensive tackle commit Gary Brown would give Florida two playmakers in the middle.
TEVIN MCCASKILL, S (6-2, 190, Miami, FL Northwestern): Northwestern is a hard school to pull kids from as it is essentially a pipeline to Miami. With that being said, Florida does have a legitimate chance to bring McCaskill to Gainesville. He has consistently said Florida is one of his top schools and that he isn’t going to Miami just because he has a bunch of former teammates there.
LAMAR MILLER, RB (6-1, 205, Miami, FL Killian): Very talented running back who reportedly has some great issues. Everyone thought he was going to Miami but the Hurricanes already have two running backs for the 2009 class, so Miller is looking elsewhere. He has expressed interest in Florida but he might need a year at prep school or JUCO to qualify.
MORGAN MOSES, OL (6-7, 330, Richmond, VA Meadowbrook): Probably the second biggest player in the 2009 class, behind Chris Freeman, it isn’t very likely that Moses will be in the Gators class. He visited Florida in the spring and liked what he saw, but isn’t sure if he will take a return trip in the fall. If he does come down for an official then anything is possible, but I think in the end he decides to go elsewhere and probably somewhere closer to home.
KEVIN NEWSOME, QB (6-3, 210, Chesapeake, VA Hargrave Military Academy): Newsome recently decommited from Michigan, which isn’t that surprising. Florida offered Newsome back in the spring and not sure if the coaches will try to go after him again. I’m working to get in touch with him as soon as possible to find out more.
NU’KEESE RICHARDSON, WR (5-10, 170, Pahokee, FL): Richardson came up to Friday Night Lights and was very impressive. He is extremely talented and should thrive in Florida’s spread offense. With him already committed to Florida, the Gators coaches can only hope that he will now try to convince some of the other top players in the country to join him at Florida. COMMITTED TO FLORIDA
DENARD ROBINSON, QB (6-1, 191, Deerfield Beach, FL): Interesting situation with Robinson because he seems pretty set on playing quarterback in college and may go to a lesser school so he can. He is tremendous athlete who would make a great wide receiver. Think Jared Fayson without the drama. For awhile it seemed like he might be the quarterback in the Gators 2009 class, but with Jordan Reed already on board that doesn’t look be to the case. I still think it would be great if the Gators could bring Robinson in and take advantage of his incredible athleticism.
JOSH ROBINSON, WR (5-10, 180 Lauderhill, FL Plantation): Robinson lists the Gators as one of his top schools along with UCF and USF. He seems a little tentative about Florida because he doesn’t have an official written offer from the coaches yet. I think the coaches want to wait and see how things turn out with some other receivers before putting the full court press on Robinson.
PETER WHITE, OL (6-4, 344 Washington D.C. St. Johns College HS): Another offensive lineman who has expressed interest in the Gators and could be lineman number four if the coaches decide to take that many. White lists the Gators in his top five and is planning on taking an official visit in the fall. Maryland, Tennessee, Miami and Oregon make up the rest of his top five.
CLASS OF 2010
GIDEON AJAGBE, S (6-1, 198, Coconut Grove, FL Ransom Everglades): Ajagbe is a player who plays safety but may eventually grow into an outside linebacker. He told me he wants to get bigger and is fine with play either position in college. Ajagbe loves everything about Florida and really wants to be a part of the Gators 2010 class. I think he is a great player, but the coaches will likely wait and see how his junior season goes before extending an offer. If that offer does come, I don’t think he will pass up the opportunity to be a Gator.
TODD CHANDLER, DT (6-0, 291, Miami, FL Northwestern): Like his teammate, Tevin McCaskill, the fact that he goes to Northwestern makes everyone think he is a lock to go to Miami. While that was the case with many players from the 2007 team, Chandler appears to have a real interest in checking out other schools. He visited Florida in the spring and really liked everything he saw. This one will likely end up being a Miami-Florida battle.
EDUARDO CLEMENTS, RB (5-11, 190, Miami, FL Booker T. Washington): Clements is rare because he is a Gators fan living in Miami. He is an extremely talented running back that posses blazing speed. Pulling him out of Miami will be tough but the 2010 running back class in South Florida is very strong, so Florida has a great chance to land him or some other very talented runners.
BRANDON DOUGHTY, QB (6-3, 190, Coconut Creek, FL North Broward Prep): This quarterback had a great time during his two visits to Florida this summer. But, with quarterback Trey Burton already committed, I don’t think Doughty will be a Gator, even though he did say he liked Florida a lot.
JEFFREY GODFREY, QB, (6-1, 175, Miami, FL Central): Godfrey left Friday Night Light’s with Florida as his top school, which is surprising because you don’t hear that from many kids who live in Miami. Florida already has a quarterback on board for the 2010 class so landing Godfrey is unlikely unless the coaches see him playing a different position, which I don’t think is something he wants to do.
JORDAN HADEN, ATH, (6-0, 200, Fort Washington, MD Friendly): It is rumored that Jordan may be the best player in the Haden family, which is saying a lot considering Joe started as a freshman at Florida and Josh will likely start at Boston College this fall. Jordan is bigger than his older brothers and also has great strength and speed. Right now he projects as a safety in college, but may grow into an outside linebacker. Based off my most recent conversation with him, I would be shocked if he ends up anywhere other than Florida, but it may take some time before he makes a decision.
BRANDON LINDER, OL (6-5, 275, Ft. Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas): Big offensive lineman who has said that Florida is in his top three along with Miami and Notre Dame. Linder was a star at Friday Night Lights and took a return trip to Florida back earlier this month. He also took a visit to Miami to watch the Hurricanes practice. Landing him would be great for Florida, but I haven’t been able to speak with him yet so can’t tell exactly how much he likes the Gators.