Secondary class meets needs

The position of biggest need on the defensive side of the ball wasn't in doubt. The Gators needed bodies in the secondary. Florida expected to and eventually did lose cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson to the NFL Draft and graduated defensive back Jaylen Watkins. They signed a deep secondary class in 2014 and now have to develop players to see the field immediately.

The cornerstone of the secondary class is Jalen Tabor. The No. 5 cornerback in the 2014 class originally picked Arizona on national television at the Under Armour All-American game on January 2. Exactly one week later, Tabor flipped his commitment to Florida and started plans to enroll early. The four-star cornerback is currently enrolled in classes in Gainesville and will have the benefit of going through spring practice.

The extra practices and time in the weight program will help Tabor get in shape for what could be a starting role at cornerback on the Florida defense in the fall. With Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins all beginning their professional careers, there aren't a lot of obvious answers at the cornerback position across from Vernon Hargreaves. Brian Poole has spent most of his time on campus playing nickel, which seems to be where he fits best.

Tabor has the skillset to play a role similar to what Hargreaves did last season. He was dominant in last month's Under Armour All-American game and moved up the rankings because of his performance. His 6-2, 195-pound frame is exactly what the Gators want at cornerback. He has size and length to hold his own against receivers.

Florida received good news when J.C. Jackson sent his letter of intent to Gainesville on Wednesday morning. The 5-11, 185-pound cornerback took a surprise unofficial visit to Gainesville last weekend. He's another cornerback that improved his stock with a strong performance at the Under Armour All-American game, ending the process as the No. 14 cornerback in the country.

Jackson could play wide receiver at some point in his career, but when he gets to Gainesville this summer, the biggest need for him will be at cornerback.

Deiondre Porter was committed to USF throughout the process but a late offer from Florida changed that. He's a three-star prospect that served as Tampa Jefferson's quarterback last season. Porter will begin his Florida career at cornerback but is another that could change positions during his time in Gainesville if there is a need. His 6-1, 185-pound frame makes him a natural fit at cornerback in the Florida defense.

Duke Dawson was the second commitment in the 2014 class, one month behind Will Grier, and never waivered. The Dixie County High School product joins Tabor as early enrollees in this class, helping him prepare for potentially seeing the field in the fall. Listed on the official roster at 5-10, 190 pounds, Dawson could also see snaps at nickel.

On paper, Quincy Wilson is the perfect cornerback for what the Florida defense runs. His 6-2, 195-pound frame is built to play immediately if the Gators need him to. Wilson served as one of Florida's most vocal recruiters throughout the process and stayed loyal to the Gators since making his commitment.

There was talk throughout the process about Wilson possibly projecting as a safety, but that's not what he wanted to hear. The Gators will let him play cornerback when he gets to campus this summer and see how he handles it.

Florida coach Will Muschamp estimates the Gators playing 70-80 percent nickel or dime packages last season, and if those numbers stay consistent in 2014, Florida will be forced to count on multiple freshmen in the secondary.

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