Size and Strength the Focus of 2012 Class

Will Muschamp learned from what happened during the fall. After the Gators struggled to stop the opponents' run game or get a run game going for themselves, he decided to load up on players that will see time on both lines of scrimmage. Florida officially signed 14 players to do just that on Wednesday, adding size and strength to a team that needed it.

"We saw very easily in our season that we struggled on both sides of the line of scrimmage consistently being able to run the ball and stopping the run," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "I certainly feel like we've addressed our most pressing needs on both lines of scrimmage, developing playmakers and depth. I'm excited about the guys we've got in that group.

"If you watched in our league this year, the two dominant teams were very good on both lines of scrimmage."

A big addition came on Wednesday morning. Muschamp, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and multiple other members of the Florida staff have spent over a year trying to convince Dante Fowler to switch his commitment to the Gators. The four-star defensive end originally committed to Florida State on December 5, 2010.

Fowler grew up rooting for the Seminoles, wanting to play in Tallahassee. Despite staying committed to Florida State for over a year, he waited until signing day to make the switch.

"You recruit through this process, and sometimes when you get to signing day, you're leaving it up to a young man and his family to make a decision," Muschamp said. "Dante has a good fit here at Florida, as far as his position and opportunity were concerned. We're excited to add another pass rusher to our team.

"He's got natural pass rush ability, able to flip his hips in the rush."

The Gators got a commitment from the No. 1 defensive end in the country, Jonathan Bullard, back at the Army All-American game in early January. The five-star stuck with his commitment and signed early Wednesday morning. His athleticism off the edge has Muschamp excited to see what he can provide this fall.

"That's a 6-5, 285-pound guy that can really run," Muschamp said. "I went and watched him play basketball last week, and he gets up and down the court very well."

The Gators listed Bryan Cox Jr. as an outside linebacker, but Muschamp isn't sure where he will play. He played all over the front seven in high school and that decision could be dependent on how much he grows.

"Bryan Cox is a guy that was an outside linebacker and played for St. Thomas Aquinas this year and moved inside and outside," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that's got great length as far as his arms are concerned. He's a tough kid. I really like his toughness and what he brings to this program."

With all the big bodies in the front seven, the Gators could take some chances on a few projects. Alex McCallister looks to be just that. The Gators list the three-star defensive end as an outside linebacker, but he could also play with his hand down in the Florida defense.

"Alex McCallister is more of an outside backer type,".Muschamp said. "When he came to camp, he really impressed us. That's when we really liked what we saw with him. He has tremendous upside and has been a basketball player most of his life. He's a guy we really liked in camp.

"He broad jumped over ten feet with close to a 40-inch vertical leap (at camp). He's 6-6, 220 pounds, and his best football is ahead of him. That's a very explosive athlete and a guy that hasn't played a whole lot of football."

The longest commitment on the defensive side of the ball is Dante Phillips. He committed on October 25, 2010, and stuck to his commitment through the coaching change. The nations' 19th ranked defensive tackle will bring another big body to immediately help with depth.

"Dante Phillips is a guy that has been committed to us for a long time," Muschamp said. "You're talking about a 6-7, 295-pound guy that can move. He's got great feet, change of direction and strike, punch and power."

Quinteze Williams is listed at 6-5, 255 pounds at defensive end, but Muschamp actually said he's 270 pounds that should be "290 very soon."

Muschamp also referred to Jafar Mann as an inside player that played both ways at 6-3, 293 pounds for Stephenson High School.

The offensive line didn't add much depth, but the two players that did sign are both on campus as early enrollees. Florida signed the No. 3 offensive tackle, D.J. Humphries, and the No. 12 offensive tackle, Jessamen Dunker.

Dunker is expected to slide inside and play guard. His 6-4, 320-pound frame is a natural fit to move inside and provide depth immediately, but his ceiling gives him plenty of room to grow.

"JD is a guy that has played football for two years," Muschamp said. "His best football is going to be ahead of him. He'll improve leaps and bounds from spring to fall. How much he'll play and contribute will be dependent on spring practice and how he develops into the summer and into the fall.

"As far as his size is concerned, certainly he can help us. The developmental part of that will all be determined in time."

Florida made Humphries a target early in the recruiting process and never backed off. He committed on August 5 and never waivered.

The issue for Humphries will be his weight. Florida listed him as 271 pounds on the official release to announce this class. Muschamp didn't want to put an ideal weight on it, instead just waiting to see how his body handles the new workout routine and lifestyle of college.

"When I was younger in this profession, I used to look at a guy and say ‘he needs to weigh this' or ‘he needs to weigh that.' Really, what I want to do is evaluate each player with (strength coach) Jeff Dillman and come up with an optimal weight of where each player should be.

"It's hard to say until you see him perform and move around. Endurance and stamina levels are important," Muschamp said. "To put a weight on somebody and say ‘you need to weight this'—some may carry it better than others. I want to see him move around before we put a number on what he should weight."

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