Defensive Recruiting Takes the Forefront (DL)

With just a few weeks until National Signing Day, the Florida Gator football staff will have to focus their efforts on defensive recruiting. Help is needed in all three levels of the defense this signing day. With several defensive backs committed, Florida needs to aim at the front seven and will do that. Here is one man's look at the defensive board for the 2011 recruiting class.

The lists below are likely not all inclusive. With a new staff brings new names to the board and even with only a few weeks left there are likely to be some new ones added. We shall start up front.

Defensive Line

A lot of attention will be turned to the defensive line in this last month. The Gators lost five seniors along the defensive line and a lot of experience to go with them. They are looking for size where they can, but getting some helpful prospects in up front is a necessity.

Defensive End

Clay Burton (committed to Florida) – He's 6-4 and 240 and despite my thoughts earlier, I believe the Venice HS product will play defensive end at Florida and not linebacker. Burton moves well and will add bulk to his frame to get bigger. He will be a do anything kind of guy for the Florida staff.

Anthony Chickillo – The Tampa Alonso standout and Under Armour All-American is starting to go real quiet on the recruiting front. There are mixed signals coming from different places including some that feel good he is heading to the Gators. He performed very well in Orlando all week and is a big time get for whatever program lands him. He just visited Florida and the trip is thought to have been a good one. I like the Gators' chances at the moment.

Ray Drew – The Thomasville (GA) standout is a very big long shot, but the Gators continue to recruit him. Right now it appears he won't visit, but the need is great and the staff is likely to start wearing him out once they get some defensive line coaches involved in the recruiting process.

B.J. Dubose – The Oakland Park Northeast athlete is a big end that I got to see over the summer. He runs really well and has a great frame to work with already as far as being ready to play at the next level. Look for the staff to get into the mix here in my opinion, after the defensive line coaches get going. He is very undecided and if pushed, I think Florida could swing this one.

Shaun Ward (committed to Texas A&M) – The Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson athlete is 6-2 and 225 pounds and would be a great fit as a quasi end/linebacker in a 4-3 and 3-4 rotating scheme. A relative unknown, A&M was willing to come to Florida and sign him. The word is out there that Florida is already after him.

Jermauria Rasco – He's the No. 2 defensive end in the country and from Shreveport, LOUISIANA. Florida looks like it will get a visit out of him, but in the end I think he stays in the state that I used all caps. LSU just doesn't let players like him get out of state very often.

Jeoffrey Pagan – The Asheville (NC) native was a onetime commit to Florida. He knows what Florida is about as far as a school. His recruitment has been somewhat of a mess and now he supposedly will visit the Gators on the last weekend. I am not sure I am buying that, and I think at the moment, he will end up at Georgia.

Thoughts on DE: The best shot right now is Chickillo and then maybe a Ward or a Dubose or someone along those lines. Getting two more to go with burton isn't a necessity, but getting one more is.

Defensive Tackle

Tim Jernigan - The thing about the Lake City Columbia defensive tackle is that nobody knows where he is going, or so it seems. He will not tip his hand in any direction. He barely mentions Florida, the team he grew up loving, yet nobody else gets a lean one way or another. Florida is about to have the best defensive line coaching in all of college football, so I think that is something that can sway him. He is likely the number one target left on the board, so he will get the full court press moving forward. Even without mentioning Florida much, I think there is a legit shot.

Elkino Watson – The Miami Booker T Washington speedy DT was in Gainesville last weekend. One big thing for Watson's possible future announcement for Florida is that he visited with his parents, something he didn't do on other officials. Right now, I would have to say that I like the chances of Watson in this class.

Delvon Simmons - The Gators are still fighting for a visit with Simmons and I think they will get the McKeesport (PA) tackle to visit. He has to be high on the wish list at the same time he is low on the probability list. Read above as to the reasons why I think Florida will have a real chance here.

Tevin Westbrook – The Coconut Creek (FL) lineman seems to have a ton of upside at 6-5 and 250 pounds and has a history of being a tackle machine from along the defensive line. His biggest offers are from Texas A&M and West Virginia and he looks to be a guy that will grow into a bigger position. He has a tentative visit scheduled for January 28 with Florida and would think that Florida would be a school he would seriously consider. Distance is something that he has mentioned as being an issue in his recruitment.

John Jenkins – This massive 6-4, 340-pound nose tackle from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College will end up being a battle between Florida and Georgia in the end. While the Gator defense will still implore a base 4-3 front, Muschamp and company will likely try and use a lot more 3-4 and getting a true nose like Jenkins is necessary as Florida doesn't have any on roister quite like him. He will visit Florida on the last weekend in January and has already taken his official visit to Georgia.

Thoughts on DT: Getting three of these is almost imperative. The Gators lost three defensive tackles to graduation after the 2010 season and have a senior in Jaye Howard that will be gone after the 2011 season. Watson may be the safest bet, but I would call him a layup. Jernigan seems second, but again he doesn't say much. Jenkins is so important to the 3-4 look they want to use at times. Having two stellar defensive line coaches should help in recruiting and hopefully we will hear about that in the next day or so. Any of these five would be solid pickups in my opinion.

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