RECRUITING: Following Fedora on the trail...

It has been business as usual for the coaching staff at the University of Florida this week. Even though they don't know if they will be here next year, the coaches continue to work hard to bring in a good class, not knowing if they will be here to reap the rewards of their efforts. Earlier this week, the Gators got commitments from two outstanding players, Tony Wright and Ronnie Wilson committed to be Florida Gators after visits from the coaches.

Here is an update from the recruiting trail on offensive coordinator Larry Fedora and his week's work.

In the swirl of the coaching change, Fedora is a hot commodity himself. Several top line schools are talking to him about becoming their offensive coordinator, and there will be a couple of offers for head coach of smaller programs. His main focus, however, has been recruiting the Jacksonville area and South Georgia border for the Gators. Among the players he visited this week was Charlton County (GA) defensive end Justin Mincey. Prior to the firing of Coach Ron Zook, Mincey looked solid for the Gators. Recently, he made a verbal commitment to Florida State, but he's since recanted that. He's planning now to take all his visits.

Florida could get into the mix with him once again, particularly if Fedora is retained by the Gators new coach.

Jacksonville Ed White corner Bryan Evans was visited this week by Coach Fedora. He was recently named to the US Army All-America Team. Prior to the firing of Coach Zook, he was very solid for the Gators, but since then he's publicly spoken of his displeasure with the move by the UF administration. Gator defensive backs Coach Dan Disch was Evans' high school coach for two years before he joined the UF staff. Disch's limbo coaching status is a real problem for Evans. Florida still has a chance to get back into the mix with Evans, but it will take a lot of effort and some of the right coaches will have to be maintained on the new staff.

Maurice Wells is another US Army All-America selection. The running back from Jacksonville's Sandalwood High School got a visit this week from Fedora. Wells has never shown much interest in Florida until just before the firing. The Gators are just a blip on his radar at the moment, but that could change with the right coaching hire. Fedora has worked this kid a lot. Should Fedora stay on the UF staff, there is a pretty good chance Wells could end up being a Gator.

Fedora also visited with Jacksonville Wolfson's Rod Owens, a wide receiver who has risen quickly on the UF charts. With the chance the Gators will miss out on Derrick Williams, Derrick McPhearson and OJ Murdock, Owens' stock has risen. Florida was highly favored to sign Williams, McPhearson and Murdock before the Zook firing. Owens is very talented, considered a player who will merit an invitation to visit in January.

Safety Gerrod Sinclair of Mandarin HS in Jacksonville is another prospect Fedora visited. Sinclair has maintained contact with Fedora all along, keeping that door open until a new coach is in place. Sinclair was more or less overlooked back in July when the Gators were on the verge of landing the top defensive backs class in the country. He is another player as talented as some of the more hyped defensive backs ahead of him on some recruiting charts.

Jacksonville also has a few very good juniors scattered about the city. Fedora paid visits to Jackson, Sandalwood and Fletcher to make sure there is a head start on the class of 2006.

After blanketing Jacksonville and South Georgia, Fedora turned south to Tampa to see Murdock. Murdock was the fastest player at UF's Rising Senior Camp and was very high on the Gators at one point. He has since hinted that Tennessee may be his future home, but Fedora made sure to drop in on him, keeping open Florida's window of opportunity. The Gators still have a chance to land Murdock but the Middleton High School all-star is a longshot right now. Florida has a decent shot at landing Murdock's Middleton teammate, offensive lineman Will Bergen. With four offensive linemen departing, the OL is a critical need and though Bergen has been low on Florida's radar, he will be getting a closer look in the weeks to come.

Fedora is one of seven coaches on the recruiting trail right now. These aren't all the players Fedora visited during the week, but he saw several who will likely be offered no matter who the new Gator coach may be. Fedora and the other coaches are re-assuring each prospect that Florida will have exciting coaches on both sides of the ball for next year, so save a spot on the visit calendar for Florida.

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