UF Recruiting Insights

UF is setting themselves up for another banner recruiting season. They are sitting on only three commitments with the possibility of signing up to 25 or more. Who will they land? How many per position? Inside, I break it all down and more with the first installment of recruiting insights.

Last recruiting season, the Florida Gators and Ron Zook shocked the world, finishing No. 3 nationally in the recruiting rankings. More importantly, they fulfilled their needs and recruited athletes across the board with great speed.

Will Zook and the Gators see the same success this coming National Signing Day? Lets break it down shall we.

The number in parenthesis is the number I expect UF to possible sign at that position.

Quarterbacks (1)
Graduation losses – None
Ingle Martin to transfer

Having a freshman phemon in Chris Leak certainly helps Florida recruit but not at this position. With Martin transferring UF will have to sign at least one quarterback. The likely candidate is Cornelius Ingram (Hawthorne, Fla.) and that will be a battle. Ingram is also a terrific high school basketball player and wants to play both sports. This should come down to the Gators and Seminoles but UF could prove tough to beat. Look for Florida to sign one quarterback.

Other QBs UF is recruiting: Xavier Lee, Brent Schaeffer

Running Backs (2)
Graduation Losses – Ran Carthon
UF RB Commits – Markus Manson

This is a position of great depth for the Gators but there's an old adage that every team has to live by; you can never have too many running backs. Carthon graduates and UF already has one RB commitment from Markus Manson. This was somewhat of a shocker because Manson is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He remains committed but this should be a fight to the bitter end between the Gators and Crimson Tide.

Florida is looking to sign one big-time fullback that's not scared to mix it up in the trenches clearing the way for the talented backs on campus. David Holbert (Brentwood, Tenn.) has scheduled an official visit in January to UF and the Gators could get a visit from Peyton Hillis (Conway, Ark.), the nation's top fullback prospect. Both Hillis and Holbert have a number of very impressive scholarship offers. UF is recruiting other fullback prospects and new names will pop up over the next month. Look for Florida to sign one running back and one fullback.

Wide Receivers (3 or 4)
Graduation Losses – Kelvin Kight, Carlos Perez

The wide receiver board for Florida is very impressive looking. Once again, UF should land a great haul at this position. Everyone wants to know about the speedy Xavier Carter (Melbourne, Fla.)??? Carter will visit FSU, Florida and Miami and he has already taken an official to LSU. He's the nation's top track athlete and there's a chance he could compete in the Olympics next year and or in 2008. The bottom line is this; he's highly sought after for a reason. This kid is special in both sports. He's so good in track that whoever signs him will only get a part-time football player. Will Carter ever reach his football potential? When he's not playing ball he will be running track. Either way, you have to get this kid. It will likely come down to LSU and the Gators. UF gets his last visit in January.

Other wide receiver possibilities are Lance Leggett (Arlington, Texas), Mike McIntosh (Jacksonville, Fla.), Doug Dutch (Washington D.C.), Derrick McPhearson (Hyattsville, Md.), and Kenny O'Neal (Oakland, Calif.).

Leggett looks unreal on film. TheInsiders.com's Mike Bakas went to Texas to see Leggett play this season and came home saying he's the best wide receiver prospect he has seen this season. If you don't know yet Leggett is from Bartow, Florida and he wants to play his college football in the Sunshine State. It's pretty much down to the ‘Canes and Gators. A decision could happen over the Christmas holidays or perhaps shortly after New Year's. This one is close. Leggett has already taken four official visits, including trips to UF and UM.

McIntosh is another super wide receiver prospect from the city of Jacksonville. He was Amp Hill's (LSU signee) quarterback as a junior and moved back to wide receiver as a senior. Some feel he's every bit as talented as Carter at the wide receiver position. McIntosh will visit Florida, FSU, Clemson, LSU and Auburn. The Gators will get a visit from him in mid-January. McIntosh is also former teammates and good friends with Gator receivers Reggie Lewis and Kenneth Tookes. They are two red-shirt freshmen WRs that are frustrated with the lack of playing time at Florida. This may not help Florida's cause with McIntosh.

O'Neal is another speedster/ track guy. He has bounced back and forth from Georgia to California. As a junior, he played his high school ball in Savannah before moving to Oakland. This guy is an incredible playmaker. USC and Florida lead Georgia and others. This one, like some many others, will get real interesting in January. He has family in Georgia and California. Will the Dawgs make a move? As of right now, he will visit Florida in mid-January and the Trojans will get his last visit.

Dutch is another talented receiver prospect that has his sights set on the Gators. Can they land him? UF will have a good shot. He has already tripped to Miami and Virginia with remaining visits to Florida, Michigan and Pittsburgh. McPhearson is the least publicized of the bunch but just as talented. He is also an incredible baseball player. Maryland will likely be tough to beat. If he decides to leave the state, UF has a great shot.

The bottom line is this, Florida would love to sign three of these receivers plus Carter. If Carter makes the Olympic team next year it is unknown when he will join the Gators if he signs with Florida in February.

Tight End (2)
Graduation Losses – Ben Troupe
Sylvester McGrew to transfer

With the emergence of senior Ben Troupe this season, it grabbed a lot of recruits' attention. TE is a huge recruiting need for UF. Markell Thompson is another JUCO tight end that could find his way to Gainesville. He is from Milwaukee and is down to the Gators and Badgers. He will have to decide soon because he will enroll in January. Rory Nicol is a highly sought after TE from Beaver, Pa. He visited UF last weekend and came home thoroughly impressed with the program in Gainesville. UF will battle Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech and UVA for him. A decision should happen before Christmas with Nicol. Another strong possibility at this position is Octavious Darby from Hollywood, Florida. Darby will play in the state championship this weekend and start to focus on recruiting shortly after. Miami and UF are his two favorite teams but the Canes have not offered yet. Vincent Chase (Irving, Texas) and Tate Casey (Longview, Texas) are two tight ends that will visit UF from Texas.

Offensive Linemen (4)
Graduation losses – Shannon Snell, Max Starks, Steven Bell, Casey Griffith

This is one position you always have to recruit every season. It's always a battle because teams want to reload in the trenches. Football can evolve all it wants to but the game is still one and loss at the lines of scrimmage. UF is hot after Drew Miller (Sarasota, Fla.), Jim Tartt (Crawfordville, Fla.) and Jason Watkins (Lakeland, Fla.) from the Sunshine State. Miller has been a heavy UF/Miami lean for sometime but he had a sensational visit to UGA last month. Georgia will be factor. Miami, FSU, Tennessee and UF will get his other visits. It still could come down to the Canes and Gators. With Florida's ties to his high school you have to like their chances. Tartt is from the panhandle and everything is pointing to another battle between FSU and Florida. Watkins is originally from Louisiana and this could shape up to be a battle between LSU and UF. He will visit Florida last and also take a trip to Oklahoma. He has already visited Auburn and Michigan State. A new name to keep a close eye on from South Florida is Chris Rutledge from Miami. Look for the Gators to possibly offer him soon.

FSU commitment Courtney Abbott and Georgia commitment Michael Brown could visit UF next month officially. Another OL to watch for is Phil Trautwein from New Jersey. He could visit the Gators as well.

Defensive End (3)
Graduation losses – Bobby McCray, Darrell Lee
UF DE Commits – Jeremy Mincey

UF has gotten a JUCO commitment at the defensive end position from Jeremy Mincey. He is former teammates with Jimtavis Walker at Statesboro (Ga.) High School. Mincey will not sign until February. Another strong possibility is Johnny Dingle. Dingle was one of two Gators (Reggie Nelson the other) that failed to qualify last year. He has been working in Gainesville and looks to re-sign with UF. The question is when? December or February?

Mike Mangold (Merritt Island, Fla.) is a very underrated prospect from Florida. Mangold is a David Pollack clone with a motor that never stops. Mangold grew up loving the Hurricanes but UF is in good position right now. He has an older brother that attends UF and he loves UF LB coach Bill Miller. A dark horse for him is Virginia Tech. His uncle is the Athletic Director at VT. Mangold was once committed to Pitt. and the Panthers are still in the running as well.

Other DE possibilities are: McCollins Umeh (Houston, Texas), Willie Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.), Brandon Lang (Tucker, Ga.), Rhyan Anderson (Oak Creek, Wi.) and Derrick Harvey (Greenbelt, Md.). Anderson has already visited UF and he had a great trip. He's keeping everything close to the vest. Miami could be his likely destination but Big 10 power Ohio State and Big 12 power Oklahoma will get visits. Harvey is the nation's No. 2 rated DE and he will visit UF. Miami is the rumored team to beat with him. The nation's top rated defensive end, Charles Johnson (Hawkinsville, Ga.) may visit UF next month but he's committed to UGA and should sign with the Dawgs.

Defensive Tackles (2)
Graduation losses – none
Sylvester McGrew will transfer

This position is not quite as clear for the Gators right now. Joe Joseph (Orlando, Fla.) is the one DT that is leaning towards UF right now. Franklin Okam (Dallas, Texas) will visit but UF trails Texas and Oklahoma for him. In-state DTs Pat Sims (Fort Lauderdale), Emmanual Dunbar (Deerfield Beach), Brandon Daniel (Pompano Beach) are some possibilities. Tennessee commitment Demonte Bolden will likely visit UF in January. Florida would love to sign Aaron Jones (Orlando, Fla) but he is leaning to FSU and Miami. Another new name to watch out for is Jared Gaither (Greenbelt, Md.). He has committed to play basketball at South Carolina but is now a hot commodity in football as a defensive tackle. He's a great athlete with super size who is very raw. This position will unfold better next month.

Linebackers (3)
Graduation losses – Matt Farrior, Reid Fleming, Dwright Jackson

If there is one must get for Florida on defense it is Keith Rivers (Lake Mary, Fla.). Right now, UF trails USC and he visits the Trojans this weekend and Florida in January. Will it last that long? We'll see. Either way, UF will have their shot to turn him. It appears the big difference right now is he feels more comfortable with USC, especially head coach Pete Carroll. Coach Zook has eight weeks to change that.

UF would love to land Willie Williams (Miami, Fla) but it appears that Miami and FSU are too far in the lead. Josh Johnson (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and James Bryant (Reading, Pa.) will both visit the Gators and UF will have a shot. Florida will battle Miami and Georgia for Johnson and Pitt. and others for Bryant. Johnson is a little concerned at the number of linebackers UGA brought in last season and that helps the Gator's cause. Bryant's older brother plays at Pitt and that could give the Panthers a huge advantage. Lawrence Timmons (Florence, S.C.) is a real possibility but the Gators trail FSU for him right now. Robert Ayers (Bennettsville, S.C.) is another Palmetto State standout that will visit Florida. Brandon Miller (Colquitt, Ga.) will likely visit UF but it appears he will pick between FSU and Georgia.

Other strong possibilities are Javier Estopinan (Maimi, Fla.), John Dunlap (Hollywood, Fla.), and Brandon Siler (Orlando, Fla.).

Cornerbacks (2)
Graduation losses – Keiwan Ratliff, Johnny Lamar, Matt Jackson

UF is looking good with two high school cornerbacks right now, Dawayne Grace (Jacksonville, Fla.) and McIntosh Nicolas. Grace, from Demetrice Webb's high school, will likely come down to Miami and Florida. Nicolas told TheInsiders.com last night that he currently favors the Gators. Both prospects will visit UF in January. Jonathan Joseph, a JUCO CB from Coffeyville (Ks.) took an official visit to Florida last weekend despite being committed to South Carolina. He signed with the Gamecocks out of high school. He should decide in the next week or so because he graduates this December. Another CB prospect UF would love to sign is Michael Grant (Stone Mountain, Ga.). He can fly and is the state 200-meter champ. UGA could be tough to beat. Grant and his teammate, Josh Johnson, were blown away by the Swamp atmosphere for the game against FSU.

Teammates Ramarcus Brown and Tristan Davis (East Point, Ga.) could visit UF next month.

Safeties (2)
Graduation losses - Guss Scott, Daryl Dixon
UF S Commits – Tony Joiner

Tony Joiner (Haines City, Fla.) has already committed to the Gators. He may still take visits but he's committed and coming. Kyle Jackson (Jacksonville, Fla) is likely headed to UF unless something drastic happens between now and Signing Day. Look for Joiner to play SS and Jackson FS at UF if they both sign. Both prospects will visit UF in January. Another possible safety prospect for UF is Jonathan Warren (Madison, Fla.). Warren grew up a FSU fan but knows he can get earlier playing time in Gainesville because of their safety need. This one could get interesting. Kenny Ingram (Orlando, Fla.) will also visit UF but the Gators trail Miami and FSU.

That's a look at the position prospect breakdowns. As you know if following recruiting, nothing is set in stone and the names will change. Florida is sitting on three commitments with the possibility of signing 25 prospects. There will be more openings because of attrition. It's expected. UF could also bring in a JUCO or two and possibly Dingle in December which could give them even greater numbers. Stay tuned. I will have another breakdown next month.

To follow who Florida is recruiting, make sure you check out our "read only" Recruiting Board, as well as Hot News.  Of course, you can always check out TheInsiders.com and FightinGators.com Scout Database.

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