Certainly they were on pace to have a fine recruiting season. But after shocking the college football world with an 11-1 season and Sugar Bowl berth the Gators are now on a recruiting tear.
"There were a lot of recruits out there that wanted to believe what the Florida coaches were selling," said Jason Higdon, a Scout.com regional recruiting analyst. "This season with how they played and the style and manner in which played really validated that for a lot of these recruits."
The best part for Florida is that they filled a gigantic need across the offensive front. Now headed to the Gators are offensive tackles Trenton Brown (Milledgeville, Ga./Georgia Military), Roderick Johnson (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage), and Octavius Jackson (Moultrie, Ga./Colquitt County), and center Cameron Dillard (Canton, Mi./Plymouth Canton). Brown pledged publicly to the Gators yesterday while Johnson re-committed to Florida after de-committing back in August.
"They got some big bodies with some experience and younger, athletic guys that have a lot of room to grow and develop," said Chad Simmons, Scout.com National Recruiting Analyst. This isvery good for Florida and what they are trying to do offensively."
Why is this position so critical? If you want to be a power football team like the Gators you better land the big uglies up front. The Gators want to knock people off the ball and that's exactly what they are getting. And that's not even factoring two stout transfers in tackle Tyler Moore (Nebraska) and guard/tackle Max Garcia (Maryland). This duo is huge for Florida because they can step in right away and play taking pressure of the OL group from this class to come in and play right away.
Florida currently has 24 commitments and the No. 6 ranked recruiting class in the nation.
Rolin flips to Florida
Speaking of the Gators they flipped Matt Rolin (Ashburn, Va./Briar Woods) from South Carolina to Florida. It was a hard decision for this 6-foot-4 and 205-pound four-star recruit, especially considering his parents were Gamecocks and his grandfather played his football at South Carolina.
"Going back on my word is something I never imagined myself doing and it hurts me to do it, but in end I have do what's best for me," he wrote on Twitter. "That being said. I would like to let everyone know that I have decommited from The University of South Carolina.
"I would like to thank the Carolina coaches and fans for all the support and hope you understand that I prayed about this an it's best for me.
Rolin than mentioned where he would be attending school.
"I have officially committed to THE University of #Florida," he tweeted. "I will be wearing #9 as I continue to chase my dreams at #Florida."
"Stacy did visit Miami last weekend," said Donnell Bennett, his head coach. "He said it was good and he enjoyed speaking with the staff, administration and players. They have good people there. I know he had a good overall experience."
Bennett still says Coley is considering roughly 15 schools. Obviously, there will be some disappointed coaches out there because he can't see them all.
"I wish I could tell you that he has lined up some more visits but at this time he has not," Bennett said. "He's still looking at FSU, Ole Miss, Florida, West Virginia, South Carolina, Cincinnati and schools like that. I think there is still 15 or so. Maybe I will no more later this week."
Also visiting the Hurricanes were linebacker Jermaine Grace (Miramar, Fla.), tight ends Jeremy Kerr (St. Petersburg, Fla.) and Nate Wozniak (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove), offensive tackle Hunter Knighton (Princeton, N.J./The Hun School), Alquadin Muhammad (Ramsey, N.J./ Don Bosco Prep), linebacker Devante Bond (Ricklin, Calif./Sierra College) and Rashard Robinson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely).
Knighton told Brian Dohn of Scout.com that he's nearing a decision and Miami's in the thick of it.
"He was talking logistics, where we are in the process, I was trying to let him know we're trying to make a decision this week," Knighton said. "I let him know, and I feel really good about Miami. The plan is to go home, sit on it a little this week, and whenever I'm feeling it, I'll make a decision."
Kerr has already committed to Miami but he's still be courted by others, namely Florida State. Meanwhile, the ‘Canes would love to keep Robinson home, as he has pledged to LSU. Miami's in good position to land Muhammad while they remain in play with Wozniak and Bond.
Taggert lands first commitment
Today was a big day for University School signal caller Mike White. Moments after celebrating a state championship victory with his teammates he was told to make a phone call to USF.
"They called me – I'm not even joking – about ten minutes (after leaving the stadium). [University School Head] Coach [Roger Harriott told me to call coach [Larry] Scott. I called and they offered," he said.
The 6-foot-5 and 195-pound quarterback was recruited by Skip Holtz and the former Bulls regime. But things changed today.
"They said originally they were going to offer me, but then Coach Holtz got fired so they had to wait until they got a new coach. With the hiring of coach [Willie] Taggart, they watched my film and he gave them the okay and they offered," he said.
"I really gave some thought to it and I was ready to commit, but obviously when Coach Holtz got fired, it wasn't official. It was a matter of time before they got a new coach and it would depend on what system he ran and if he liked me, and he did, so I committed."
White is Taggert's first commitment and he is ready to bring his skills to the USF program.
"I think I can succeed at the next level with my decision-making skills and my ability to lead and just to be the epitome of what a quarterback is," he said. "I'm committed to them. It's not an in-the-meantime, soft commitment," he said.
JUCO invasion in Tampa
Taggert had a 4 p.m. press conference on Friday, where he was introduced to the media as the Bulls coach. It didn't take long to get recruits on campus, as South Florida hosted eight junior college prospects.
Offensive linemen Dallas Hinkhouse (Iowa Western), Marquise Wallace (Lackawanna), Zach Fondel (Navarro) and Aleon Calhoun (Navarro), linebackers Jon Shelby (Nassau) and Ramon Swain (Butler) and defensive backs Imir Sanders (Lackawanna), Howard Wilder (College of the Sequoia), and Torrell Scaffold (Butler) all made official visits to the Bulls.
If what Calhoun said about USF and their new coach is any indication of things to come than the Bulls are in good hands.
"The biggest thing is how we all came in knowing that they didn't have a head coach and I was sort of taking the visit just to take it because it was in Florida," Calhoun said. "Then we met the new coach and he was awesome. He's the kind of coach I would like to play for and USF is a school that I could be at for the next few years. It doesn't get much better than what I saw in Tampa.
"USF is not only at the top of my list they are my leader."
Irish land Bryant
Notre Dame is reaping the rewards of an unbeaten season, the No. 1 ranking and a BCS championship game berth against Alabama. Yesterday, they landed one of the most coveted offensive recruits in the nation with the commitment of the No. 14 ranked running back in Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage).
I have said it before and I will say it again, he's this class's version of former Alabama star and current Cleveland Brown Trent Richardson. Like Richardson, Bryant is a compact back that is very powerful at 5-foot-10 and 210-pounds. He has great feet and the ability to make the first defender miss. Bryant is also a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game. These are all very similar traits with the former Crimson Tide star.
Notre Dame was also in great position with Tarean Folston (Cocoa, Fla.), who made his official visit this fall to South Bend. But they also have committed Jamel James (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch) so where does that leave Folston?
Can they add a third four star running back prospect? It's not out of the question.
Lying in the weeds
It was a quiet weekend in Tallahassee, as Jimbo Fisher and Florida State didn't host any recruits over weekend. In fact they won't this weekend either and won't until January. The Seminole coaches have been focused on recruiting, hitting the road and making in-home visits.
They may not be making a lot of noise right now but expect FSU to be a major player in recruiting next month, as they have been under on Fisher since he has been in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are likely to add 10-12 more recruits to this 2013 class.
Looking ahead part one
All eyes in the Sunshine State this coming weekend will be on Alex Collins (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation). The state's top running back will make his official visit to Florida. The Gators have come out of nowhere and now find themselves in contention. This will mark his first visit to the Florida campus, which is why this looms so large.
The five-star Collins was committed to Miami before backing off that pledge. Florida State also has a great shot. This will emerge as your classic battle between the ‘Big Three'.
Collins doesn't talk all that much to the media, so it's unknown as to how he feel's about Wisconsin and the departure of Brett Bielema to Arkansas. Then again, maybe he now takes a look at the Razorbacks? The Badgers were thought of as a big sleeper with Collins before they lost their coach.
Chances are he stays in state. Stay tuned.
Looking ahead part two
The season will be over in Florida this weekend after the state championships conclude in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. Friday's games are Tallahassee Godby/ Immokalee (5A) and Tallahassee Lincoln vs Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas (7A). On Saturday you have Gainesville vs Miami Central (6A) and Apopka vs Weston Cypress Bay (8A). These games are loaded with big name prospects across the board in both this class and in the next.
This past weekend Northview, University Christian, University School and Booker T. Washington were crowned state champions in 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A respectively. Congratulations to all!