Gator Football picked up some big time early commitments over the past weekend at the rising senior camp. UF picked up two stud defensive backs and overall three kids from South Florida. Ron Zook and his staff continue to delve into the fertile recruiting grounds of Broward and Dade Counties with no fear of Hurricane warnings.
Avery Atkins out of Mainland High School and fellow defensive back Demetrice Morley from Miami Killian are stud athletes who showed experienced cover skills at the camp. Another top 100 recruit from the secondary, Bryan Evans of Ed White High School in Jacksonville, spent a lot of his free time hanging with Atkins and Morley. While many folks think Evans to UF is a lay-up don't be surprised if he plays the game for awhile. A lot of kids are committing earlier and earlier these days for fear of losing their top choices or just because they like the fit. But some kids still like the attention that goes with being a top recruit and everyone guessing where you will go. It would not shock me if Evans waited till well after football season to make his choice.
Gerald Williams and Vladimir Richard give the Gators two more kids with a South Florida
influence and athletes who will grow into positions at UF. I believe with the
Gators getting these South Florida kids early, it will work against some of the
negative recruiting going on out there. Many schools are still using the Ron
Zook won't be there card and some are even saying that certain player won't get
playing time because of the guys on campus. One thing is for sure, Ron Zook and
his staff are creating an environment that top athletes want to come to and the
only thing to push them over the top is some big wins.
Snippets and Tidbits...
I have seen video of most of the top names at defensive back and four really stand out. Jamario O'Neil (committed to Ohio St.), Morley, Evans and Atkins, who camped with UF this past weekend. I really like Morley; he may be the best talent out of all four. I think UF signs four more defensive backs this year in the 2005 class just like last year's 2004 group. New secondary coach Dan Disch may not have college experience but he bonds better with Florida High School kids than any other secondary coach Florida has had going back to the Stoops Era.
Staying with the defensive theme, there is some concern that Kenny Parker's back may not hold up as well this season and his snaps at tackle could get reduced. Eric Holcombe has not come around like coaches want and that leaves Julian Riley as the most reliable backup right now. Riley had a great spring and is doing well this summer could be in the three or four man rotation by the end of two a days. I would not be surprised if Joe Cohen saw some action inside during camp. He is a physical machine and with UF's attacking scheme and his strength, he could be a rush force inside in passing situations. The end spot, which has been a hot topic as of late, is loaded and a strength on the defense.
Moving over to offense, there has not been a Gavin Dickey sighting in Gainesville this summer. He will return to the football team in two weeks, but his love of baseball has really put him behind the eight ball in regards to his preparation for the upcoming season. Ron Zook ok'd Dickey's summer league play and wants Gavin in his football program. Gavin struggled in the spring in limited time with the offense and committed too many unforced mistakes. He will basically have a couple of weeks to get ready for camp and will be starting fresh in his battle with Midgett. The first two games could go a long way towards deciding the backup job, but it still appears he is the first guy to go in at Rocky Top if the season started today.
With Ben Troupe's graduation there will be 40 more balls to go around on the offense. David Kenner and Marquell Thompson had good springs but don't expect them to eat up all of Troupe's numbers. Senior OJ Small may get a look at tight end in Larry Fedora's offense. A unit that include Caldwell and Small inside with Cornelius and Baker outside could show up for the Gator Offense. Former Head Coach Steve Spurrier made a living with Chris Doering at the tight end position during the mid 90's. As long as you call an occasional run out of the formation it will give you match-up advantages throughout the game.
Brandon Siler and Marcus Manson continue to impress among the freshman on campus working out. Here are some height and weights of UF's new offensive line recruits as they report to campus:
good solid foundations to work on for Rob Glass. Notice that Joe Wickline
prefers his tackles to be more "flat bellied," tall and athletic types. I don't
think the 6-6 340 guys will be lining up at tackle in Fedora's offense in the
future. While all these guys were highly recruited, these are as close to being
the first four UF would have liked during recruiting based on athleticism,
height and footwork. Gator coaches feel the strength program is better used to
build up an athletes body, rather than have to take off excess pound and then
build back up.
Did you know? In year one under Ron Zook with John Thompson as coordinator and future NFL players Ian Scott, Tron LaFavor and Clint Mitchell the Gators gave up over 4yds per carry and had only 20 sacks. Last season under Charlie Strong, with a patchwork unit that included Mo Mitchell, Travis Harris and true freshman Marcus Thomas the Gator defensive front held opponents under 4yds per carry and recorded 27 sacks. Strong returns for his second year with more talent and depth across the front. One more reason to get excited about 2004.
Stat of the Week: 0. Ron Zook's number of bowl wins in his first two years. He is the only SEC coach who has not won a bowl game that has been invited. Mike Shula (Alabama), Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State) and Bobby Johnson (Vanderbilt) have not ever been to a bowl game. Defending National Champion Nick Saban of LSU is 3-4 in bowl games as a head coach.
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