With less than two weeks to go before National Signing Day, Jim McElwain is trying to put together his first recruiting class at Florida. There is every good chance he will close fast with studs Martez Ivey (OT, Apopka, #3 ranked player nationally by Scout.com), Byron Cowart (DE, Seffner Armwood, #8 player nationally by Scout.com) and CeCe Jefferson (DE, Baker County, #13 player nationally by Scout.com). Those are the kind of marquee names that can generate some late momentum for a class that has only eight commitments so far. McElwain and his staff have a lot of ground to make up. Currently, Scout.com has the Gators at #72 but that number figures to rise substantially if the Gators land Ivey, Cowart and Jefferson and as the class fills out to something around 20-22 players.
Right now, after talking to a lot of people who really have their pulse on UF recruiting a good guess is that the Gators will take one quarterback, two running backs, 2-3 wide receivers, one tight end, 4-6 offensive linemen, 3-4 defensive linemen, 3-4 linebackers and any combination of three safeties and corners.
Although he split time between Utah, where he was getting the Utes ready to finish an unbeaten season in the Fiesta Bowl, and Florida in the month of December, Urban Meyer assembled what looked like on paper to be a good but not great first recruiting class in 2005. Scout.com rated the group #12 nationally. Of the 18 players, only a handful ever made meaningful contributions. Here is a look at the 2005 class and what happened to them.
Avery Atkins, CB: Scout.com rated Atkins the #44 player in the entire nation. He was a key reserve as a true freshman, starting the FSU game and Outback Bowl game with Iowa. Left school during the spring of 2006, ran into trouble and died of a drug overdose in 2007.
Nyan Boateng, WR: A US Army All-American from Brooklyn, Boateng was rated the #38 wide receiver prospect in the country by Scout.com. Played sparingly as a freshman at UF in 2005 then transferred to California.
Simon Codrington, OT: Codrington was a highly regarded prospect who never allowed a sack in four years as a starter on the offensive line at South Miami. He was the #52 rated offensive lineman in the country by Scout.com. Played in six games at Florida before taking medical hardship after the 2007 season.
Jon Demps, LB: The subject of an intense recruiting battle between UF and FSU, Demps was ranked #32 among linebackers nationally by Scout.com.
Brian Ellis, TE: Scout.com had Ellis rated #22 among tight ends nationally but he never qualified out of Mainland High School and went to a California juco.
Daryl Gresham Jr., LB: Gresham was rated the #67 linebacker in the country by Scout.com. Took a redshirt in 2005, played in one game in 2006 and was dismissed from the team in the spring of 2007.
Eddie Haupt, C: Haupt was an early enrollee after a distinguished prep career that saw him rated the #23 offensive lineman in the country by Scout.com. Had ACL surgery before the 2005 season, played in three games in 2006 before he injured a shoulder and missed the rest of the season. Took a medical hardship after 2007.
Kestahn Moore, RB: Moore was the #29 running back in the country by Scout.com. Team captain as a senior in 2008, Moore finished his Florida career with 1,281 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 38 receptions for 231 yards and three touchdowns. Started 21 games in his career.
Dorian Munroe, DB: Came to Florida as the #11 cornerback in the nation by Scout.com. Took a redshirt in 2005, played in 21 games as a backup in 2007, then missed all of 2008 with a torn ACL.
Louis Murphy, WR: Scout.com rated Murphy the #47 wide receiver in the nation. Started in 2007-08. For his career, caught 77 passes for 1,245 yards and 13 touchdowns. Has spent the last six years in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Bucs.
David Nelson, WR: US Army All-American who was ranked the #24 wide receiver in the country by Scout.com. Originally committed to Notre Dame but flipped to the Gators when Meyer became the head coach. Got two national championship rings (2006, 2008) and caught 46 passes for 630 yards and seven touchdowns in his UF career. Caught the game clinching touchdown pass against Oklahoma in the 2008 national championship game. Has spent five years in the NFL, most recently with the New York Jets.
Reggie Nelson, S: Signed with Florida out of high school but went juco when he didn’t qualify and made All-America at Coffeyville. Re-signed with the Gators in 2005. Made All-America in 2006 when he helped the Gators to the national championship. Left early for the NFL after 2006. Just finished his eighth season in the league, playing for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Jonathan Phillips, K: Scout.com rated him the #2 kicker in the country. Scored 133 points in his career. Scored 114 in the national championship season of 2008, hitting 78-79 extra points and 12-13 field goals.
Ryan Stamper, LB: Rated #42 nationally among linebackers by Scout.com. Stamper played in 41 games, started 26 and was elected a team captain by his peers in both 2008 and 2009. Was in on 149 tackles and intercepted two passes in his career.
Ronnie Wilson, OG: Early enrollee who came to Florida as the #19 offensive guard prospect in the country. After a redshirt 2005, Wilson made All-SEC Freshman in 2006. Missed the 2007 season after an off the field incident. Rejoined the team in 2008 but was dismissed permanently after another off the field incident.
Take a look at Scout.com’s best players in 2005 and you’ll see how recruiting is nothing more than a crapshoot. Here are the nation’s best players in the preseason and final rankings and what happened to them.
Running back: The preseason choice was LaMarcus Coker, who went to Tennessee, got kicked out for drugs, finished his career at Hampton and never played in the NFL. When Scout.com came out with the final rankings, the two running backs were Antone Smith (FSU) and Marlon Lucky (Nebraska). Smith has played a few games in the NFL and has less than 600 yards to show for it. Lucky didn’t last a year in the NFL and played a lot of Arena ball. Darren McFadden (Arkansas) wasn’t a Scout.com All-American.
Athlete: The preseason and postseason choice was Derrick Williams who went to Penn State, played four years in the NFL and caught nine passes. In hindsight, the better choice was Felix Jones (Arkansas).
Wide receivers: The preseason and postseason choices were Fred Rouse (FSU) and Patrick Turner (USC). Rouse played at FSU, UTEP and Concordia College and spent three years in the CFL. Turner caught 10 passes in his four-year NFL career. The best receivers were DeSean Jackson (California) and Brandon LaFell (LSU).
Tight end: The preseason choice was Dajleon Farr (Memphis) but the postseason choice was Tony Moeaki, who has had a fine NFL career.
Offensive linemen: The preseason choices were Eugene Monroe (Virginia), Reggie Youngblood (Miami), Dace Richardson (Iowa), Michael Oher (Ole Miss) and Dan Doering (Iowa). The postseason choices were Monroe, Oher, Richardson, Youngblood and Alex Boone. Monroe, Oher and Boone still play in the NFL. Youngblood played in 17 college games and Doering was a career backup.
Defensive ends/standup linebacker: The preseason choices were Averell Spicer (USC) and Justin Mincey (FSU). The postseason choices were Spicer and Travis Beckum (Wisconsin). Spicer had a so-so career in college and was on an NFL roster for one year. Beckum switched to tight end at Wisconsin and played three years in the NFL, catching 26 passes. In hindsight, a better choice than Spicer would have been either Ricky Jean-Francois (LSU) or Doug Worthington (Ohio State).
Defensive tackles: The preseason and postseason choices were Callahan Bright (FSU) and DeMarcus Granger (Oklahoma). Bright never qualified and ended up at Division II Shaw University, then played one year in the Arena League. Granger made honorable mention All-Big 12 once, then played one year in the NFL and one in the Arena League. In hindsight, the best two DTs were Ndamukong Suh (Nebraska) and Jerrell Powe (Ole Miss).
Linebackers: The preseason choices were Tray Blackmon (Auburn), Luthur Brown (USC) and Geno Hayes (FSU). The postseason linebackers were Blackmon, Ray Maualuga (USC) and Brian Cushing (USC). Brown had 30 tackles in an undistinguished college career. Blackmon was great as a freshman and it was downhill after that. Hayes is still in the NFL. Maualuga and Cushing remain in the NFL.
Cornerbacks: The preseason choices were Jamario O’Neal (Ohio State) and Justin King (Penn State). The postseason choices were Dee Morley (Tennessee) and King. O’Neal never panned out at Ohio State then played in the Arena League. King was a star at Penn State and played five years in the NFL. Morley got booted out of Tennessee twice and only played one season (2006). He has played four years in the CFL. In hindsight, Chris Cook (Virginia) would have been a better choice than Morley.
Baylor missed making the final four of the college football playoff by an 8-4 vote of the committee members according to Art Briles. Ohio State got the fourth spot and won the national championship … Former Florida running backs coach Kenny Carter (2008-09) is the new head coach at Delaware State … Former Gator corner Renaldo Hill (2003-04) is the cornerbacks coach at Pitt … Georgia has extended the contract of head coach Mark Richt through the 2019 season and raised his pay to $4 million a year. Richt was the seventh highest paid coach in the SEC last year and even with this raise probably won’t rise in the ranks as both Ole Miss and Mississippi State raised their head coaches to $4.5 million … Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who played at Arkansas for Frank Broyles, donated $10.65 million to help fund an athletic support center and establish a permanent tribute to the 1964 national championship team … The Cowboys were coached by Bill Parcells in 2005. They didn’t win a championship or even make the playoffs, but seven assistant coaches from that staff have gone on to become head coaches (Sean Payton, Tony Sparano, Todd Haley, Mike Zimmer, Todd Bowles, Mike MacIntyre, Paul Pasqualoni) … Parcells is part of the Bill Peterson coaching tree. Some might remember Coach Pete best for his fracturing of the English language – “Everybody line up alphabetically by height” and “I’m happy I’ve been indicted into the Hall of Fame” among others – but the former FSU coach had an eye for assistant coaches. At one point his staff included Parcells (two Super Bowl titles), Joe Gibbs (three Super Bowl titles), Bobby Bowden (two college national championships), Bobby Ross (one college national championship), Don James (one college national championship), Earle Bruce (four Big Ten championships) and NFL coaches Ken Meyer, Dan Henning and Kay Stephenson … Former Miami Hurricane Calais Campbell, who plays defensive end for the Arizona Cardinals, donated $1.6 million to the U to endow a football scholarship … ESPN has filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame, claiming the school violated Indiana’s public records laws by withholding information about crimes committed by athletes on campus.
How do you see McElwain’s first class breakdown in numbers by position?
Other than Jerry Jeff Walker, I don’t listen to much country music but an old friend I had not talked to in years sent a message of reconciliation and a YouTube of Alison Krauss singing the old Beatles standard “I Will.” It’s a beautiful song that I thought is worth sharing.