When it comes to recruiting efficiently, look no further than Florida’s defensive backs from 2010-16. Unlike other positions, there hasn’t been a shortage of quality players. Florida has recruited 33 players overall, 26 from 2010-15. It takes averaging a minimum of four defensive backs a year to ensure adequate numbers so even with transfers and dismissals, the numbers have been good all along.
There is a reason UF is called by some experts DBU.
Defensive Backs Recruiting 2010-16:
Matt Elam, S: He was a factor from day one. He played in all 13 games as a true freshman and then started every game in 2011-12. He played in 39 games at UF, starting 26, finishing his career with 176 tackles including 23.5 for loss, 13 pass breakups, 6 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery. He was All-SEC in 2012 and was named first team All-America. He left early for the NFL and was selected in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens.
Cody Riggs, CB: Riggs played in all 13 games as a true freshman and earned three starts. He got 10 starts in 2011 with 31 tackles. After missing all but two games of 2012 with a fractured foot and was granted a medical redshirt. In 2013, Riggs was in on 51 tackles with 6.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. During his career he was in on 107 tackles with 2 sacks and 1 interception. Riggs left Florida to play as a graduate transfer at Notre Dame in 2014. Signed a free agent contract with the Tennessee Titans in 2015.
Josh Shaw, CB: Took a redshirt in 2010 then played in 10 games with one start in 2011 while recording 22 tackles. Transferred to Southern Cal to be close to his ill father and was granted a hardship waiver to play in 2012. In two seasons at Southern Cal, he picked off 6 passes and was in on 97 tackles. He left early for the NFL Draft and was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth round in 2015.
Jordan Haden, S: Early enrolled and then transferred to Toledo after one semester on campus.
Jaylen Watkins, CB: He played both corner and safety at UF with 28 starts in 48 games from 2010-13. Overall, he was in on 133 tackles with 3 interceptions, all in 2012. He had 39 tackles in 2012 and another 52 in 2013. Watkins was taken by the Philadelphia Eagles in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Jonathan Dowling, S: Played in two games on special teams in 2010 and was dismissed from the team in December. He transferred to Western Kentucky. Transferred to Western Kentucky where he was in on 127 tackles in two seasons and picked off 9 passes. He left for the NFL after the 2013 season and was selected by the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.
Assessment: Even though Elam and Watkins were the only two who finished their careers in Gainesville, you have to give this class an A grade. Five of the six are playing in the NFL while Elam was a first round draft pick and an All-American.
Marcus Roberson, CB: Roberson was the #2 corner in the country coming out of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was instant impact, starting in the first 10 games of his UF career before he suffered a season-ending injury. He played in 13 games in 2012 and started four, then started four of the seven games he played in an injury-filled 2013. For his career , Roberson was in on 56 tackles with 3 interceptions and 17 pass breakups. Roberson left for the NFL after the 2013 season and went undrafted. Signed a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams.
Jabari Gorman, S: Gorman was one of the top high school safeties in the country. He played in 49 games in his career with 15 starts. He had 48 tackles, 1 interception and 7 breakups in 2013 and 58 tackles with 1 interception and 6 breakups in 2014. For his career Gorman had 116 tackles, 3 interceptions, 13 pass breakups, 3 fumble recoveries and 3 forced fumbles.
Valdez Showers, CB: Showers was one of the top high school corners in the country coming out of Michigan, but he took a redshirt in 2011. In 2012 he played in 11 games, but mostly on special teams. He was moved to the offensive side of the ball where he was a slot receiver from 2013-15. His best season was 2013 when he ran for 103 yards and caught 18 passes for 102 yards and 1 TD. For his UF career, Showers caught 26 passes for 197 yards and 2 TDs.
Louchiez Purifoy, CB: Purifoy was one of the top corners in the country coming out of high school. He played in 37 games with 19 starts in his UF career. His big season was 2012 when he was in on 41 tackles and broke up 7 passes. For his UF career Purifoy was in on 102 tackles with 2 sacks, 12 breakups and 5 forced fumbles. He left early for the NFL after the 2013 season and went undrafted. Signed a free agent contract with the Indianapolis Colts.
De’Ante “Pop” Saunders, CB: Saunders saw the field immediately as a true freshman when he played in 12 games with nine starts. He had 26 tackles in 2011 with 2 interceptions, 6 pass breakups and 1 pick returned for a touchdown. He followed that up by playing in eight games with seven starts in 2012 when he had 18 tackles and 1 interception. After the 2012 season, Saunders transferred to Tennessee State where he intercepted nine passes in two years. Singed a free agent contract with the Cleveland Browns after the 2012 season.
Assessment: Gorman gave the Gators four solid years while Roberson and Purifoy were 3-year contributors. Showers contributed three years even though he switched positions. Saunders could have been outstanding had he stayed with the program. This class gets an A- grade.
Marcus Maye, S: Maye was the #7 safety in the country coming out of high shool. After a redshirt season in 2012, Maye played in 12 games and made two starts in 2013 with 16 tackles and 1 interception. In 2014, Maye played in 11 games with nine starts while playing both safety and nickel. He had 62 tackles broke up 6 passes, forced 2 fumbles and intercepted a pass. In 2015, Maye played in 13 games with 12 starts. He was in on 82 tackles, forced 5 fumbles, recovered 2 fumbles, broke up 6 passes and intercepted 2. Maye was selected first team All-American by USA Today. Bypassed leaving early for the NFL to return for his senior season.
Rhaheim Ledbetter, S: The #12 safety in the nation coming out of high school, Ledbetter never developed at UF. He redshirted in 2012 then played in only two games in 2013. Transferred to Southern University.
Brian Poole, CB: The #2 ranked corner coming out of high school, Poole played sparingly as a freshman then was a factor on defense at corner and nickel the next three years. He finished his career with 120 tackles, 6 interceptions, 23 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 forced fumbles. Poole’s best season was 2014 when he was in on 45 tackles with 4 interceptions, 10 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries. Poole signed a free agent contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
Willie Bailey, S: An early enrollee, Bailey took a redshirt in 2012 then announced a transfer to Louisville but would up at Virginia Union.
Assessment: Maye is an All-American and Poole gave UF three very solid seasons. Because half the class transferred out, it’s hard to give this any more than a B grade.
Marcell Harris, S: Considered the nation’s #11 safety coming out of high school, Harris has been slow to develop. He redshirted as a freshman in 2013, played almost exclusively on special teams in 2014 and then played as a reserve safety, registering 22 tackles in 2015.
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB: Hargreaves was the #1 corner in the country coming out of high school and he lived up to the hype. He made All-SEC all three years and All-America in both 2014-15. The Columbus Touchdown Club named him National Defensive Player of the Year after 2015. He finished his career with 10 interceptions even though he wasn’t tested all that often. He finished his career with 121 tackles and 28 pass breakups. He was a first round selection by the Tampa Bay Bucs in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Keanu Neal, S: Out of South Sumter, he was the #15 safety in the nation. Neal played in 34 games with 19 starts. He played special teams in 2013, made 45 tackles and intercepted 3 passes in 2014 and then had a monster 2015 with 96 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. His career numbers were 146 takcles, 2 sacks, 4 interceptions, 5 pass breakups, 1 fumble recovery and 2 forced fumbles. Neal was taken in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons.
Nick Washington, S: Washington played in the first two games of 2013 before suffering a season-ending injury, which resulted in a medical redshirt. He played in all 12 games in 2014, mostly on special teams. In 2015, Washington got four starts at safety while playing in four games. He was in on 28 tackles and recovered two fumbles.
Assessment: This class gets an A+ with two first rounders, one of which was an All-American, and two players with two years remaining to make an impact.
Deiondre Porter, CB: Porter and trouble have been synonymous. After a redshirt in 2014, he played in four games in 2015 before he was dismissed from the team for firing a handgun near his then-pregnant girlfriend. He was recently arrested for the armed robbery of a Jacksonville cell phone shop.
Jalen Tabor, CB: Tabor was the #5 corner in the nation coming out of high school. He’s pretty much lived up to the hype in his first two years at UF. He was a first team All-SEC selection in 2015 when he was in on 40 tackles with 18 breakups and 4 interceptions, 2 that were run back for touchdowns. As a true freshman he was in on 31 tackles with 1 interception and 9 pass breakups. Tabor is regarded by many experts a lock for the first round in the 2017 draft.
Quincy Wilson, CB: In 26 games at UF Wilson has started 11 times, all at corner. He had two interceptions in 2015 and 1 in 2014. He has 51 career tackles with 11 pass breakups. Wilson and Jalen Tabor are being touted by many as one of the top 10 cornerback tandems in the country for 2016.
J.C. Jackson, CB: Jackson came to UF with plenty of hype as the #14 corner in the nation, but he was injured and took a redshirt in 2014. Ran into legal troubles off the field in 2015 and was dismissed from the team. Spent 2015 at Riverside Junior College in California.
Duke Dawson, CB: At UF he has played corner, safety and nickel in 25 games with one start. He had 14 tackles in 2014 with an interception that he returned for a touchdown against Eastern Michigan. Dawson played in all 14 games in 2015 and was in on 10 tackles. Expected to make safety his permanent home in 2016.
Assessment: Tabor and Wilson are rock solid starters at the corners and Dawson can play corner, nickel and safety. Porter and Jackson are blemishes on this class, so give this group a B-.
Kylan Johnson, S: Johnson took a redshirt in 2015. In the spring he had bulked up to 228 pounds and had moved to outside linebacker.
Chris Williamson, CB: Johnson played in five games as a freshman.
Assessment: Incomplete grade. It’s much too early to tell if these guys are going to have a real impact but both have potential.
Jeawon Taylor, S: Taylor was the #13 ranked safety out of high school in Montgomery, Alabama.
C.J. McWilliams, S: The Gators outrecruited Miami and Nebraska for McWilliams.
Joseph Putu, CB: Putu is a highly regarded juco transfer who is expected to factor in the rotation in 2016.
Tony Nelson, S: Nelson was one of four players the Gators recruited from Alabama in the class of 2016.
McArthur Bennett, CB: Just call him football player. He was a corner in the spring but might wind up on the other side of the football. He will find some place to play.
Quincy Lenton, S: Lenton came to Florida from Meridian, Mississippi.
Chauncey Gardner, S: One of the top recruits in 2016, Gardner enrolled early and showed in the spring that he will be on the field early and often.
Assessment: It would be surprising if Gardner, Putu and Bennett don’t play a lot in 2016. On paper, this is a very good class.
Final assessment for secondary: There is a reason some call Florida DBU. The number speak for themselves – 3 first round draft picks (so far) and a bunch of guys who were either drafted or made it to the NFL as free agents. Will Muschamp recruited the secondary about as well as anyone in the country, but the new staff has also done well. And, we can’t forget 2010 with five of the six guys who signed playing in the NFL. There were 33 players signed in seven years so the numbers are good and the retention (25) easily outweighs the attrition.
GATORS MOVE TO SEC SOFTBALL SEMIFINALS
The #1-ranked Gators (53-4) didn’t have much in the way of offense but they didn’t need much as Kelly Barnhill and Aleshia Ocasio combined to hold Ole Miss to 1 hit as Florida advanced to the semifinals with a 1-0 win. The game was delayed by rain for three hours. Florida’s only run came in the bottom of the fifth when Kelsey Stewart doubled and advanced to third. She scored on a passed ball for UF’s only run. Barnhill gave the Gators 4-1/3 innings, allowing 1 hit and striking out 6. Ocasio relieved her in the fifth and set down eight of the nine batters she faced to improve to 20-1 on the season.
Florida plays the winner of the Alabama-Auburn in Friday’s semifinals. Alabama-Auburn was moved back to Friday noon because of the rain.
Baseball: Great pitching should be on display all three nights when the #1-ranked Gators (41-8, 16-7 SEC) face #7 Vanderbilt (36-13, 14-10 SEC) in the final home SEC series of the season. Friday night, the pitching matchup will be Logan Shore (9-0, 2.32 ERA) facing off with Vandy’s Jordan Sheffield (7-3, 2.09 ERA). A.J. Puk (2-2, 3.04 ERA) gets the Saturday nod for the Gators against Kyle Wright (6-3, 1.89 ERA). Florida will go with Alex Faedo (9-1, 3.11 ERA) Sunday against a yet to be named Vandy starter.
Women’s Tennis: The Gators (21-2) are the #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament which begins this afternoon with a match against South Carolina State at the Ring Tennis Center. With a win, UF will face the winner of Syracuse and Georgia State on Saturday.
Men’s Tennis: The #9 seed Gators (18-6) face North Florida Saturday and if they win, they face the winner of South Florida and St. John’s on Sunday.
Billy Donovan has the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals in his first year on the job. The Thunder kayoed the San Antonio Spurs in six games, winning Thursday night’s game, 113-99. Was this series the final curtain call for the Spurs’ Greg Popovich, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli?
Scott Skiles needed only one year to figure out that he’s got better things to do than coach for one of the most dysfunctional organizations in all of the NBA. Skiles told the Orlando Magic once is enough Thursday.
Alabama made the hire of Karl Dunbar as the defensive line coach official on Thursday. Also, Nick Saban dismissed juco transfer Charles Baldwin from the team. Baldwin was expected to be in the running for the starting right tackle job in the fall.
I am convinced the Atlanta Braves are the worst team in Major League Baseball.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you had a choice to attend either the Super Bowl or the College Football Championship Game, which one would you choose and why?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
When he was a mere lad of 68 years old, John Mayall assembled a few of his buddies to make an album to celebrate all his years in show business. Among those appearing on the 2001 album “Along for the Ride” are Jeff Healey, Billy Preston, Steve Cropper, Steve Miller, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Otis Rush, Peter Green, Billy Gibbons, Chris Rea and Garry Moore. Mayall is 83 now and on tour again. He’s playing in Boca Raton Saturday at the Florida Jazz and Blues Jam.