RECRUITING: Offense - The view from Hollywood

This is my somewhat optimistic view of the finish of the offensive class for the Gators. The view may have changed somewhat after the recent quality weekend of recruiting by the staff. Nevertheless, this reflects how I personally feel things will shape up on offensive recruiting given all the information I have.

The Florida Gators football staff looks to finish strong in the next nine days or so with another large group of recruits coming on for the last weekend in January. As some of the more serious needs seem to be taken care of, some others are definitely there to be sealed. The depth at some roster positions is still in serious need of replenishment and the class could use more of those positions. Here is a guide to what to look for in the closing week and a half.

QUARTERBACK: The quarterback class was filled relatively soon after Coach Urban Meyer was hired at Florida. Jonathan Garner was committed to the previous staff but Meyer's hiring brought a different quarterbacking philosophy. Pocket passer Garner backs out and multi-skilled Josh Portis became the hot name on the board. Portis was previously committed to Coach Meyer at Utah, but he had to be recruited to move all the way across the country to Gainesville. Portis is Scout.com's number six rated quarterback. The Woodland Hills (CA) quarterback visited Gainesville in December and committed immediately to Florida. He is already enrolled in classes and will be competing at the position in spring drills.

Committed: Portis and done

RUNNING BACK: The running back position has been all over the map. The Gators currently have three scholarship running backs and two fullbacks. The staff would like to sign at least two players at the position. Tony Wright has been a commitment for quite some time but he may not qualify academically, so junior college looks to be his route to Florida. Florida still has a need to sign at least two more backs. There are three remaining names on the board. The Gators look solid for RJ Jackson of Houston (TX) Westside, an Army All-American, whose running and receiving skills make him a solid fit in Coach Meyer's spread offense. Kestahn Moore out of Arlington (TX) Mansfield Summit visited over the weekend. The Gators have a legitimate shot at landing him. Scout.com's number one rated back in the country is Antone Smith of Pahokee, who also visited over the weekend. The man with all the moves from Pahokee is a poker player who just refuses to show his cards. It is impossible to get a read on him. There is something up with the list of backs when a talented back like Mikell Simpson is no longer offered.

Committed: Wright but to JuCo

HOLLYWOOD BOB'S TAKE: I think the Gators land Jackson and Moore and there is perhaps a better than average chance that Smith will be a Gator.

WIDE RECEIVER: Wide receiver is not a great need for 2004 but the roster is loaded with juniors who will be gone within two years. The recruiting board is deep and talented at this position. The Gators have already landed four commitments and there are more on the way. Louis Murphy has been a solid commitment since July and his recent visit to Gainesville rejuvenated him to be a recruiter for the Gators. Nyan Boateng and David Nelson, both US Army All-Americans, committed in the last two weeks and have begun recruiting for the Gators. Depending on the source, Derrick McPhearson is or isn't committed but he is hard to contact. However, he is expected to visit this weekend. Brandon La Fell is expected to come this weekend with his pal RJ Jackson and both are expected to leave committed to the Gators. OJ Murdock of Tampa Middleton is one of the fastest receivers in the nation and the Gators are favored to win his commitment. He's expected in along with New Yorker Lavar Lobdell and California's electric Desean Jackson. Lobdell is not expected to commit and no one knows if Jackson will even make the trip. Eric Sledge of Apopka committed Sunday night. He's an athlete who is a great defensive back, but he wants to play wide receiver. We will have to see if he sticks on the offensive side of the ball.

Committed: Murphy, Nelson, Sledge and Boateng.

HOLLYWOOD BOB'S TAKE: I like the chances of also adding Murdock, La Fell, and McPhearson.

OFFENSIVE LINE: Offensive line recruiting will be solid but the staff will probably not sign as many as they would like. Already committed are Ronnie Wilson of Pompano Beach Ely and Eddie Haupt of Merritt Island. Both are four star linemen, already enrolled in classes and ready to compete for playing time in spring practice. Chris Scott of Riverdale (GA) Lovejoy will announce this week if he is going to be a Gator or a Tennessee Vol. Scott has been the highest rated offensive lineman on the Gator's board since the start of the recruiting process. There are rumors that he is leaning toward the Gators but no one will know till he announces. Simon Codrington came in a little over a week ago and rated his visit a ten. The 6-7 260-pound lineman is a very impressive specimen. Word is the staff loves this guy. Brian Roche toured Gainesville this past weekend then went back home to New Jersey and two feet of snow. He had an enjoyable visit but he didn't commit. The only other lineman on the board right now is Matt Hardrick of Orlando, Edgewater, who rated his visit to Gainesville a 10. He's been considered a Florida State lean since the beginning.

Committed: Haupt and Wilson.

HOLLYWOOD BOB'S TAKE: I think Scott and Codrington are Gators in the end. The Gators have a shot at the other two.


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