There were plenty of key acquisitions along the way.
We will actually start at quarterback. Florida started late in the process and weren't sure they even wanted to take a quarterback until January. Florida head coach Will Muschamp told the media Wednesday that they decided in November they wanted to get one and started collecting data. When Charlie Weis left, it meant getting started on a quarterback would come that much later, because it was going to have to be someone the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach wanted. To get a prospect like Skyler Mornhinweg that late in the process is a big win here and honestly from anywhere during the recruiting process given the two Florida pulled in the class last year.
As we mentioned above, Muschamp is going to really concentrate on southern recruiting and especially in-state recruiting. They will go North or maybe west for a prospect like Mornhinweg or a Colin Thompson to fill a need, but most of the effort is going to be made in areas where we can continually go back in and recruit hard at those schools or towns.
I will include Alabama and Louisiana in our mix here because I consider them the southeast, but those states are increasingly difficult to go into and snag prospects for obvious reasons. But for our purposes here we will include Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida in our list of southern schools.
With that in mind, taking and taking a look at Scout.com's rankings, the Gators landed the #7 running back in the south in Matt Jones. A definite need position and with size that the Gators covet. Jones played hurt in his senior year, but his junior and sophomore film are good to spectacular and is a big time get for the Gators.
The Gators obviously couldn't do more at the tight end position after signing the number one tight end in the nation, Kent Taylor, who happens to be from Florida. Then adding the number two tight end in the nation in Colin Thompson, who they ‘cherry picked' from Pennsylvania. Thompson has the physical maturity to play right away in 2012.
Moving to the offensive line, while the Gators would have loved to land a couple of more linemen, they did very well with the two they landed. According to the Scout rankings, Florida landed the number two and four offensive tackles in the entire south with the signings of D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker respectively. Both are enrolled early and will compete for playing time right away, a huge bonus to a unit that needs quality and depth.
On the defensive line, the Gators did well for themselves. It is the strongest unit in the class with eight signees, with some high quality at the top and some athletic depth behind those.
Florida added the #1 and #7 defensive ends in the south when they signed Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler. The fact that both play the opposite end positions on the field means they are suited to play at the same time and not slotted in the same spot on the depth chart. The additions of Bryan Cox, Alex McCalister, and Quinteze Williams gave the Gators three more southern prospects at the position that bring assorted skills and athleticism to the table.
Even at defensive tackle Florida added the #8 and # 9 defensive tackles in the south with the signings of Omari Phillips and Damien Jacobs to scholarships. Jafar Mann from Georgia is a big body and a prospect they liked early enough to take before his senior season.
Linebacker is another position with maybe not enough prospects signed, but looking at the map, Florida signed the #10 outside linebacker in the south in Jeremi Powell. Middle linebacker Antonio Morrison isn't from the south, but if he was, his ranking would put him at #7 among middle linebackers in the south.
In the secondary Florida landed the #3 and the #5 safeties in the south in Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter respectively. Both are huge hitters and fly to the ball. At cornerback, Gator signee Brian Poole comes in as the #1 cornerback in the south. They added depth and size to the position with speedster Willie Bailey from Hallandale.
The Gators were represented in the Army All-American Bowl by DJ. Humphries, Kent Taylor, and Omari Phillips. They also were represented in the Under Armour All-American game by Dante Fowler, Colin Thompson, receiver Latroy Pittman, Marcus Maye, Brian Poole, Jessamen Dunker, and kicker Austin Hardin.
A very nice haul for Will Muschamp's first (full year) recruiting class.
Next we will bring you our positional hits and misses from the class.