Grading the 2011 Class: The Backfield

The Florida Gators finished off a very solid 2011 football recruiting class Monday with the addition of quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The class won't go down as one of the best classes on paper, but a lot of needs were filled within the constraints of the 19 pledges, and some stars will likely come out of the class as well.

We take a quick look at the different groups of prospects that were signed, grade the positions, and then give a sneak peek at what the Gators might need to do for the class of 2012.

The Backfield

QB Jacoby Brissett (6-4, 225) Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer HS; QB Jeff Driskel (6-4, 230) Oviedo Hagerty HS

Brissett is a four-star prospect on Scout.com and and U.S. Army All-American. He presents a more conventional quarterback to the mix and is a natural fit for a Charlie Weis offense. Adding Brissett this late is a remarkable feat and a big time testament to the recruiting ability of Weis. It also speaks volumes for Brissett that he was willing to look past the signing of Driskel and willing to compete straight up with the very highly rated signal caller. Brissett has a strong arm and is accurate and will certainly be allowed to compete for the starting quarterback job when he shows up on campus in June.

Driskel is everyone's All-American. He's the No. 1 quarterback in the nation according to most and won the Elite-11 quarterback competition which is all about the arm. His intangibles are off the chart and as accomplished as he is as a thrower, his running ability is really second to none at the position. Driskel is smart and has already shown himself to be a big team leader. The Under Armour All-American may have more tools to work with than any quarterback to come out of the high school ranks in some time.

RB Mike Blakely (5-9, 190) Bradenton Manatee HS

Blakely has shown that when the spotlight is on, he is a gamer. A little known fact about his game is that he is a very good receiver, runs crisp routes and is a terror to defend when running those routes. Another underlying trait is his intelligence which should help him see the field faster. A shoulder injury and surgery will keep him out of spring practice, but he should be close to full speed by the time fall rolls around.

FB Hunter Joyer (5-11, 148) Tampa Catholic HS;

The Gators desperately needed a fullback with both scholarship fullbacks on the roster last season ending their careers short due to injury. How better to solidify that need than signing the nation's No. 1 fullback, which is what Joyer is listed as with Scout.com. The human bowling ball may come to school in June as the strongest player on the team and workouts are no joke for Joyer. He displays a surprisingly good bit of agility for his physique and should fit in nicely with what the new offensive staff is looking to do on offense.

Needs: Two quarterbacks, one big running back, and one fullback. The Gators met their needs very nicely with the quarterback. Getting a bigger back than Blakely was probably desired, but the quality of the Manatee star cannot be denied. Joyer was the perfect get at fullback.

Grade: Has to be an A+. The lack of a big back is offset with extra credit given for landing two super quarterback prospects. That the staff was able to sign four guys of this caliber for the backfield is remarkable even given the fact that three of the four were committed, but not obligated to sign before the new staff arrived.

2012 Class Needs: At quarterback it now all depends on where Tyler Murphy ends up. Trey Burton and Jordan Reed are headed to other positions, but Murphy is still an unknown. If he stays at quarterback past the 2011 season, then the Gators don't need a quarterback. If he changes positions due to athletic ability, then the Gators will definitely need to sign a quarterback in 2012.

At running back, it will be about grabbing a big back. The Gators have tried to do this for a few years now and not succeeded. This offense will turn some heads of bigger backs and I fully expect them to grab one of many that are out there for the 2012 class. The 2013 class isn't better so getting none would be fine for now.

Depending on roster moves, I fully expect Florida to go after a fullback again in 2012. There are a few players on roster that could move to the position, but I am not sure there are any true fullbacks other than Joyer that will be on the roster at the start of the season.


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