Addressing needs up front

Offensive line recruiting classes under Will Muschamp haven't given the Gators what they needed. The Florida staff is hoping the 2014 class changes that. With only four high school signees left on the roster from Muschamp's first three classes, the Gators needed a large number of offensive linemen in the 2014 class and finished with six signing on Wednesday.

Florida signed two offensive linemen in each of Muschamp's first two recruiting classes, but only D.J. Humphries and Trip Thurman remain from those classes. The coaches aimed to correct it last season by signing four, but Trevon Young decided to transfer following the 2013 season and Trenton Brown has only one year of eligibility left. Redshirt freshmen Octavius Jackson and Rod Johnson are the only offensive linemen from last year's class with multiple years of eligibility remaining.

The addition of transfers Max Garcia and Tyler Moore have helped the numbers at the position, but the signing class of incoming freshmen should set up the numbers at the position better than before.

With the six signings on Saturday, Will Muschamp believes the future of the position is back to a comfortable spot. The Gators will play with 15 offensive linemen on scholarship next season, hitting the bottom range of the 15-17 offensive linemen Muschamp wants at all times.

"It's a developmental game, but that's a huge developmental position," Muschamp said. "That's where you've gotta have guys in your program, so it's good to see that."

The star of the class is four-star offensive tackle David Sharpe. The Florida staff heard reports of his athleticism and saw it for themselves on the football field and the basketball court. Sharpe came up as a basketball player and thought about playing it in college before buying into his future in football.

"He was a guy that bought into the football side of it and he bought into the physicality of the game," Muschamp said. "You combine that athleticism at 6'5 and a half, right now he's probably 318, 325, and he's got great feet. You can't coach that. He's a guy that will continue to improve, and his best football is ahead of him, because he's still very young at the game. He hasn't played a lot of the game."

The basketball court has been an important part of the evaluation process for the Florida coaching staff. They'll watch prospects play in basketball games late in the process, but it's more than just a visit to show their face and greet parents. They're at the games to evaluate.

"Basketball a lot of times is your best evaluation, to see a guy run up and down the court, change direction, sync his hips, explode off you see him come quick off the floor, have a lot of hand eye coordination to be able to use their hands in the pass rush," Muschamp said. "That's one of my best evaluations."

The offensive lineman that has been committed the longest is Raines High School guard Travaris Dorsey. The 6-3, 320-pounder is a road-grading interior lineman that had the eye of the Florida staff from the very beginning of its scouting in the 2014 class. The film jumped out to the coaches after he showed strength in his lower body, allowing him to move piles and show a quick punch after the ball was snapped.

"Travaris is a powerful guy," Muschamp said. "Two years ago we were looking at him, he has a really good lower body, punch and power. You turn the tape on, he gets movement all the time up front. He's a 320 pounder, a guy that's got some good length on his arms. I think he has 34 inch arms. He's got some reach up front to be able to push the pile inside, a square guy that gets a lot of movement."

Florida added another offensive line prospect, this time taking advantage of a coaching change. The Gators offered Kavaris Harkless weeks before he was set to enroll early at Louisville, but the 6-5, 275-pound lineman thanked Florida for its interest but was content with playing at Louisville.

And then Charlie Strong left. The Gators moved quickly to get Harkless on board and on campus to enroll early.

"Kavaris Harkless, he's got a lot of length," Muschamp said. "He needs to continue to build on his body, but he is going to be a guy that's going to be a really good player for us."

The Florida coaches have praised the intelligence of freshman early enrollee Nolan Kelleher. The Gators went to Mount Pleasant, SC, and stole the four-star recruit away from Clemson. The 6-6, 305-pounder has the physical and mental toughness that the Florida coaches have made a priority.

"Nolan Kelleher, another guy we're real excited about," Muschamp said. "(He) really shows some good movement skills out there."

The most interesting story of the offensive linemen came from Andrew Mike. Florida special teams coach Coleman Hutzler was aware of Mike during his time as an assistant coach at New Mexico, but Mike had Pac-12 offers that kept him from being interested in New Mexico.

When Mike went to the Semper Fi All-American Bowl, he was coached by Joey McGuire, who is the head coach at Cedar Hill High School in Texas and remains a close friend of Muschamp. Mike was leaning to Washington at that point, but Steve Sarkisian left, forcing Mike back to the beginning of the recruiting process.

McGuire called Muschamp and recommended the Florida coach take a look at Mike.

"We really liked what we saw, the length and the athleticism and the girth and the size potential as much as anything," Muschamp said. "(He's) a guy that we kind of lucked into, to be honest with you. We're really pleased with."

The third offensive lineman that enrolled early is junior college transfer Drew Sarvary. Muschamp complimented his 6-6, 318-pound frame and the work Sarvary has done since showing up in Gainesville.

Fightin Gators Top Stories