Under Will Muschamp Florida is looking to diversify its defense and be able to switch from a 4-3 base defense to a 3-4 when the right time comes on the playing field. With that, you need defensive linemen that can do different things which more times than not require bigger players to do things than smaller linemen have been asked to do before.
One position we are going to see on defense is a hybrid linebacker/speed pass rusher type of player in this defense the position will be the BUCK/SAM.
With that in mind, Florida will be looking to sign one or maybe two guys that can both rush the passer and drop back in zone coverage. Someone with decent size as a high school junior and will fill out to the 245-265 range during his college playing days.
Florida has offered quite a few prospects that fill this description and two of them currently are in-state prospects that are giving the Gators a look. Dante Fowler (6-3, 238) of St. Petersburg (FL) Lakewood HS is currently committed to Florida State but seems to be expressing a genuine interest in Florida. He will be pressed throughout this recruiting cycle. Tyriq McCord (6-3, 210) of Tampa (FL) Jefferson HS is another talented in state prospect that can play the hybrid position as well.
Looking out of state, three Georgia prospects have offers and stand out at this time. Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 225) of Hamilton (GA) Harris County HS has visited Florida a couple of times and may be the top target at the position right now and a lot of big time schools are after him already as well. Jarontay Jones (6-3, 234) of Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson HS visited the Gators recently and came away really impressed with everything he saw. Florida is currently on top with Auburn for the services of Jones. Leonard Floyd (6-5, 217) of Eastman (GA) Dodge County HS is another Peach State star that the Gators like at the BUCK/SAM and his taller frame probably means he can add even more weight.
A little farther out and Eli Harold (6-3, 215) of Virginia Beach (VA) Ocean Lakes HS and Kyle Kelley (6-3, 212) of Irvine (CA) Woodbridge HS offer blazing speed and could actually be recruited as a straight up linebacker as well. Both are phenomenal athletes that just fly off the edge in high school.
The "Defensive End" position in the Muschamp defense will be pushed to a much bigger prototype than we have been seeing. They will likely recruit guys that will end up in the 260-280 pound range during their college playing days. Again, Florida has a huge number of prospects that already have offers that seem to fit this category of player
In-state, there are three current offers out to the bigger defensive end type players according to those players. Jelani Hamilton (6-5, 245) of Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas HS hasn't been to Florida yet, but his father told me he is likely coming to visit the Gators in the near future. Pedro Sibeia (6-3, 265) of Homestead (FL) recently got a Florida offer and visited campus. The trip went well and we should be seeing more of Sibeia before all is said and done. Leonard Williams (6-5, 250) of Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland HS is a guy with a big frame that again will put on some good weight even before he arrives at whatever college he signs with.
Looking out of state, Jonathan Bullard (6-4, 250) of Shelby (NC) Crest HS attends the same school as Gator Great linebacker Brandon Spikes. Bullard is certainly high on the Gators' wish list at this time: James Deloach (6-2, 242) of Millen (GA) Jenkins County HS, Michael Moore (6-4, 255) of Hyattsville (MD) Dematha Catholic HS, Noah Spence (6-4, 240) of Harrisburg (PA) Bishop McDevitt HS, and Jordan Watkins (6-5, 255) of College Park (GA) Woodward Academy are all big bodied ends that will grow to be even bigger before finishing their high school careers. All say they have offers from Florida at this time.
If Florida is going to be able to move to a 3-4 very much they are going to have to get some help inside and some size. There are currently no bodies on the Florida defense that would be described as prototypes to play the "NOSE" position. Landing two of these would be ideal, but the Gators need to start somewhere one way or another. It appears the recruiting board is rich with jumbo sized defensive linemen at this time.
At the top of the board is Scout.com 5-star lineman Eddie Goldman (6-3, 290) of Washington DC, Edison Friendship Charter. Whether he is a nose or not can be questioned simply because he is so quick that he can play the three-technique and be a terror. Still, he has great size for a junior in high school and looks to only get bigger.
The only in-state prospect that appears to be a NOSE is Dalvon Stuckey (6-3, 300) of Defuniak Springs (FL) Walton HS. Stuckey is currently committed to Florida State, but the Gators do appear to be recruiting him. Current defensive tackle coach Bryant Young recruits Stuckey's area, so he will be the point man and should talk to him often.
Georgia has a couple of NOSE types that the Gators are interested in. Quinteze Williams (6-4, 245) of Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek HS doesn't have the size right now, but is expected to really fill out and be a big one before all is said and done. Florida has a couple of connections with Williams that could come into play in his recruitment, so he is one to watch. Jonathan Taylor (6-4, 307) of Millen (GA) Jenkins County HS is a monster lineman that pairs up with DeLoach above to terrorize high school offenses.
Justin Shanks (6-4, 294) of Prattville (AL) is likely a hard one to pull out of Alabama, but he has shown interest and Florida certainly will be recruiting him hard. Heading north, Jarron Jones (6-7, 290) of Rochester (NY) Aquinas Institute, Jamil Pollard (6-4, 280) of Westville (NJ) West Deptford HS, and Vincent Valentine (6-4, 315) of Edwardsville (IL) are all prospects that have recent offers from UF and show the size the Gators need to get in on to man the NOSE position.
Finally at defensive tackle, Florida will be looking for prospects that can play the three-technique, but also play a little defensive end in a 3-4 defense. Getting two would likely be optimum and the Gators already have a good one that should be rising up the recruiting rankings this season.
Omari Phillips (6-6, 270) of Venice (FL) is already committed to Florida and following the path of fellow Venice stars Trey Burton and Clay Burton to Gainesville. Phillips should be pushing 290 or so by the time he arrives on campus at UF to play. Jafar Mann (6-4, 280) of Stone Mtn. (GA) Stephenson HS visited with his teammates for a junior day in February and Florida now leads. Mann is solid at 280 and is another that will fill out even more before arriving at college.
There are a trio of great prospects that are close to getting an offer as well. Earl Moore (6-2, 260) of Tampa (FL) Hillsborough HS, Quayvon Hicks (6-2, 260) of Blackshear (GA) Pierce County, and K'Hadree Hooker (6-2, 270) of Deep Run (NC) South Lenoir HS are all very good three-technique tackles that have big time offers already and will merit a ton of national attention before all is said and done.
In March, you want to have a large recruiti9ng board for positions of real need. Florida has 25 offers out to defensive linemen already which shows us two things. They are putting a premium on the position, and that there are a large number of very quality linemen out there that already have an offer in March.
With five more spots to fill on the defensive line, this position is going to be fun to track moving forward.