RECRUITING: UF Wants/Needs for Class of 2005

With the change in the football staff, recruiting for Florida Gator football took a topsy-turvy spin in the last month. What was shaping up to be an absolutely terrific class if the season went well, looked ominously dreadful immediately after the firing of Coach Ron Zook.

In two short weeks Coach Urban Meyer and his newly assembled recruiting machine has breathed a sense of relief into Gator recruitniks everywhere. On the verge of signing as many as five early enrollees of four stars or more in the's rating system, the class will get off to an early electric start with momentum that could allow for a very strong finish.


Quarterback On Scholarship: (3) Chris Leak (Jr.), Gavin Dickey (Jr.), Cornelius Ingram (Fr)

Roster Analysis: With only three on scholarship the Gators would like two quarterbacks in this class. Dickey and Ingram are also two-sport stars and require time away from football to play the other sports. As much as they would like to sign two, I think they just may settle for the one.

Options: (Gators want 1) Coming into the football season and before, the previous staff was ready to sign two quarterbacks. They had a list of about six to seven and most fell early to other schools. Jonathan Garner came along in camp and impressed enough to earn a scholarship offer and he accepted. The new staff came on and decided to go another direction, a highly rated quarterback from California. Garner has de-committed and will go elsewhere.

Josh Portis was a complete unknown to Gator fans only three weeks ago. Portis, who committed to Urban Meyer at Utah, de-committed Utah, then took a surprise official visit to Florida last weekend, a visit he made with Reggie Nelson. Portis is's eighth rated quarterback, very athletic and much in the mold of current Utah quarterback Alex Smith. Portis is committed and is expected to enroll in January.

Other options: The Gators may have to dig a little to find the second option, but I would bet Florida finds another quarterback for this class. Some old options may be athletic quarterbacks Antonio Bass of Michigan and Carlton Hill of Jefferson County (FL). They have both considered Florida in the past and may be open to looking at the Meyer offense. Both of these would more than likely fall in the athlete category anyway.

Running Back On Scholarship: (3) DeShawn Wynn (Jr), Skyler Thornton (Jr), Markus Manson (Fr)

Roster Analysis: No Gator fans will complain about the ability the threesome have at this position. We all have seen spots of brilliance from Wynn and Thornton and expect both to be improved with more playing time with the early departure of All-SEC running back Ciatrick Fason. Manson is a player Gator fans are itching to see get a chance and expect a lot from. Count me in that group.

Options: (Gators want 2) We hear the board is expanding at this position. The very top players in the country seem to be looking elsewhere, but there is a bevy of backs that are still out there that can suit the needs of the Gator squad. Some top guys like Antone Smith are said to be receiving top priority from the current staff, while others like Maurice Wells haven't shown enough interest to garner a lot of attention.

Tony Wright has already committed to the Gators and is a great talent. The bruiser from Peach Valley High School in Fort Valley, Georgia, is a sight to see on his high light video. Hs grades have been questioned but sources tell us that he is just short on his test score and may have time to make that up. He is a quality addition to the class.

Smith was unbelievably shut out of the Army All-American Game and is regarded by some as the best back in the state, perhaps even the southeast. He certainly gets the attention of the Florida staff, past and present. The Pahokee High School star hasn't shown much love for the Gators, but the coaches continue to pursue him.

Mike Ford is a durable running back out of Sarasota High School. He rushed for more than 2800 yards this year and is a target the Gators would like to get their hands on. He is a relative unknown, probably because he transferred from Riverview High School. Look for him to start showing up on big time visit lists.

Mike Davis from Columbia, SC is another guy the Gators are looking to get in on. The four star running back has one or two visits still open and the Gators would love to fill that void for him. He is only 5-10, but 210 pounds, solid as a rock and can fly. We haven't seen any public interest, but looking for it any day.

Another back the Gators are trying to get in on is James Davis. The four star athlete from Douglas High School in Atlanta, Georgia would fill the needs nicely for the Gators. He is 6-0, 205 and runs an 4.55 forty-yard dash. He still has one open visit date right now and is favoring Virginia Tech and Clemson.

RJ Jackson out of Houston Texas was interested in Utah and Florida before the coaching change. We can't imagine that his interest would dwindle with Meyer coming on as the Gators new head coach. Jackson has had Oklahoma State and LSU at the top of his list, but if LSU Coach Nick Saban bolts to the NFL, Florida could loom large on his radar.

Other options at running back include Dixie County's Paul O'Hara, who some project on the defensive side of the ball. O'Hara has had many updates on Gator Country and many believe he has been a foregone conclusion in the Gators class this year. He excels on both sides of the ball and the need for defense may push him that way but he is a very good running back

Tight End

On Scholarship (4) Markell Thompson (Sr.), Brian Crum (Jr.), Tate Casey (So.), and Dane Guthrie (Fr.)

Roster Analysis: It is believed that the Gators are not looking to sign a tight end in this class. With four on scholarship and spaced out, the need is not there for an abundance of tight ends in a spread offense. This isn't to say the Gators are not going to use the position, just that they will not go that direction this year with critical needs elsewhere on the roster.

Tomorrow we will bring you our analysis on wide receivers and offensive line projected recruits.

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