Muschamp Looking for D-Line Help

Florida head football coach Will Muschamp has made it very clear that the Florida Gators have to get bigger, stronger, tougher, and deeper in the trenches on both sides for the ball. With that in mind, the defensive line recruiting board is pretty deep and talented for this 2012 class. The Gators have three committed and as many as five more could be added by signing day.

Florida will return four players in the defensive tackle rotation for the 2012 season and two others that could play minimal time inside. Starter Dominique Easley returns as does would be senior Omar Hunter, both with a lot of experience. Although Sharrif Floyd played at end for most of his time in 2011, he looks to spend more time inside next season with the departure of Jaye Howard to graduation. Leon Orr will be a sophomore who saw his minutes on the field increase in the last few games. Earl Okine and freshman Tevin Westbrook are the others that could spend some snaps inside in 2012.

With three sure things and three maybes, the Gators are looking to add some depth through recruiting and already have two defensive tackles committed. Jafar Mann (6-4, 293) of Stone Mt. (GA) Stephenson and Omari Phillips (6-6, 270) of Venice (FL) are two guys Florida spotted early in the process and nailed down.

Florida would like to add one or two more and they are looking at size when trying to add the last piece to the defensive tackle puzzle. Getting a monster tackle could help the Gators do a little more with a 3-4 defense they would like to use a little more of in the run game.

In the high school ranks one target still available for Florida to recruit appears to be Vincent Valentine (6-4, 315) of Edwardsville (IL). He has the size the Gators are looking for and should be visiting Florida officially before making a decision.

One more old / new name that can be added to the list is four-star Dalvin Tomlinson (6-3, 270) of McDonough (GA) Henry County. Tomlinson was being recruited hard by Florida earlier and suddenly there wasn't much there. It is back on now.

With the lack of quality numbers at the position Florida will also look into the junior college ranks at defensive tackle. Damien Jacobs (6-2, 300) of East Mississippi in Scooba (MS) and Junior Salt (6-3, 340) Mount San Antonio , Walnut (CA) are two big ones the Gators are hot after.

Jacobs visited officially a few weeks ago and had a good time on that visit. Florida is getting a hard look from Jacobs. Salt is a monster sized linemen that some schools are recruiting to play on the offensive line. His athleticism warrants a hard look on defense and his size would be ideal for the 3-4 nose tackle they are looking for.

At the defensive end and BUCK positions there are a lot of questions going on as well. Lynden Trail just transferred from the depth chart and William Green graduates this month. If Floyd moves to tackle, that could leave Florida with just Okine, starting BUCK Ronald Powell, and seldom if ever used Kedric Johnson as the only three returning players at the two positions. The Gators would like about nine or so.

Okine would be the only strong side guy returning, but the recruiting board looks pretty good at the position. Florida got an early commitment from Quinteze Williams (6-4, 260) of Tyrone (GA) Sandy Creek HS and is happy to bring that kind of size and his intangibles into the mix.

Four-star end Jonathan Bullard (6-4, 250) of Crest HS in Shelby (NC) just returned from an official visit at Florida and the word is he had a very good trip to see the Gators. This may very well be a Florida / Clemson battle in the end.

If you want sheer size and strength as a strong side end, look no further than Leonard Williams (6-5, 265) of Daytona Beach (FL) Mainland HS. Williams just visited the Gators unofficially for the Florida State game and the word is he enjoyed himself. About an hour and a half away from the Gainesville campus, Florida is the closest school for the four-star end to attend.

Florida will also be getting a visit from five-star Darius Hamilton (6-4, 245) of Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep School. Hamilton is long thought to be looking hardest at Rutgers, the home state program, but he has never committed to the school.

Alex McCalister (6-6, 223) of Clemmons (NC) West Forsyth HS will have to put some weight and strength on but is a big time athlete and could be a huge player in all of this before it is done.

Florida's BUCK position is a hybrid linebacker / rush defensive end spot and Florida has just the two players at the position. Although the pass rush seemed to get a little better this season, they are still looking for more and the thought is they can get it from the list below.

Five-star Jordan Jenkins (6-3, 246) of Hamilton (GA) Harris County is as athletic as they come and is an ideal fit for that position. Jenkins has been to Florida numerous times including taking his final official visit to Florida for the game last week. Several schools are in the mix, but it appears that Florida and Alabama are the two teams in the final hunt for Jenkins.

The nation's number one ranked defensive end, Noah Spence (6-3, 240) of Harrisburg (PA) Bishop McDevitt HS is also considering Florida and has confirmed his visit to Florida in a week with Scout.com. This was presumed to be a Florida / Penn State battle with Penn State in the lead. With the issues at Penn State he backed off for now and the newest report has Florida battling with PSU, LSU, Maryland, and Ohio State.

Finally, five-star Dante Fowler (6-3, 238) of St. Petersburg (FL) Lakewood HS is a Florida State commitment that continues to take visits to Florida and has been on the campus more than five times since his commitment to the Seminoles. He is starting to open up and says if he is going to change that commitment Florida would be the school.

Spence and Fowler are both candidates to also play SAM linebacker which also doubles as another BUCK in the Muschamp defense. Their versatility makes them very valuable along with Jenkins.

The Gators could do worse than ending this recruiting cycle with eight defensive linemen. The numbers on the roster say they need more, but taking too many will not help for the future. With three commitments on the line, I fully expect them to sign at least four more in this class.


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