8 Early Entrants Help in Many Ways

Take nothing away from the great job that Will Muschamp has done early in recruiting the class of 2011. But, he got a great assist from Urban Meyer and his staff for this class. Seven prospects from the class have already attended class and are enrolled early at Florida. An eighth is expected on Monday. These early entrants into UF will help Muschamp more than can be calculated.

With an expected class of 25-plus for this 2011 year, having one-third of the class already enrolled at Florida is an incalculable bonus for Will Muschamp. Muschamp was announced as Florida's head coach in mid-December and literally had days to settle down the early entrants because of the sudden retirement of Urban Meyer.

There were casualties for one reason or another as three of the previous 11 early entrant candidates decided to either commit elsewhere (Ryan Shazier and Nick Waisome) or decided to not enroll early in order to make a the right decision (Chase Hounshell).

But, to get eight of the early entrants to show up to class just weeks after meeting Muschamp for the first time is not only amazing, but very helpful for finishing the rest of the class.

Before we go there, let's talk about the prospects that will compete in the spring for playing time.

It all starts with quarterback Jeff Driskel. The Oviedo Hagerty star is the nation's top quarterback and has all the physical tools to be a great one. Driskel has been an integral part of keeping the class that had been assembled together while Muschamp found assistant coaches to recruit the prospects. There is a lot of action going on with the quarterback position and Driskel will get a hard look in the spring to see what he can do in the fall.

Four-star running back Mike Blakely of Bradenton Manatee will be arriving Monday after spending all week at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl festivities. Blakely comes in physically ready to compete and is known as a cerebral player as well. Look for him to get in the mix right away in the spring.

Four-star tight end A.C. Leonard of Jacksonville University Christian was hot and cold throughout his recruitment even thought he committed to Florida early in the process and during the 2009 season. Leonard is an exceptionally skilled tight end that has the knack for making the big play. His physical build and his physical style of play could have him in the mix early and coming in this spring will not hurt that cause.

Four-star receiver Javares McRoy of Lakeland won't be the tallest receiver on campus, but he is one of the more put together receivers you will see. McRoy is definitely a dynamic play maker and does some incredible things with the ball in his hands. He was the star of Friday Night Lights, Florida's showcase camp of the summer.

Ridgefield (CT) four-star offensive tackle Tommy Jordan is the only early entrant offensive lineman in the class. A defensive lineman by nature, his aggressive play earned him his fourth star on the recruiting front. It is unlikely that Jordan would see early time on the offensive line, but stranger things have happened.

Venice defensive end Clay Burton is the brother of freshman do-everything Trey Burton. At 6-4 and 245 pounds, Burton is an intriguing player because of the want to move to a bigger and stouter front seven on defense. In fact, Burton could end up being a linebacker in Muschamp's version of the Gator defense.

The last defender already enrolled is cornerback Pop Saunders of Deland. Saunders was recruited very hard by Florida State all the way up to the end and even though one of his teammates decided to pledge to the Noles, Saunders never wavered on his commitment to Florida. Saunders has a great break on the ball and is best when the ball is thrown in front of him. His aggressiveness gets him burned deep sometimes, but he has great ball hawking skills. The low numbers in the secondary certainly favor Saunders and a chance to play in his first year.

The last early entrant is a position of great need. The Gators are without a punter with the graduation of Chas Henry and Kyle Christy of Brownsburg (IN) won the job in the summer at camp. Christy will likely get the job in the fall and a spring to prepare can only help.

Getting these eight prospects to campus early is a coup in more ways than one. Having a third of the class already on campus frees up sop much time to recruit others. With 17-20 spots only left to get, the staff doesn't have to pull their hair out or worry about checking in on the eight guys already on campus. All of that time can be used to dig up new prospects or to spend extra time with the prospects they are already recruiting.

That is less travel, less phone calls, the whole gamut. In essence, they have padded themselves with extra time to spend on each of the prospects that they still would like to recruit.

All of that and the eight that are already enrolled could amount to being a very special bunch.

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