Grading the 2004 Florida Gators Recruiting Class

Here is a position by position analysis of the recently completed recruiting class of 2005 by the University of Florida. In grading Coach Urban Meyer's first recruiting class we'll analyze the players first, give a quality grade for each position, then a quantity grade. The quality grade is based on the caliber of athlete the Gators got for each position and the quantity grade is based on did Florida meet its needs in terms of numbers.

QUARTERBACK: The Gators signed Josh Portis of Woodland Hills, California, a 6-3, 188-pounder who threw for more than 4000 yards and ran for more than 1000 in his final two seasons of high school football in the Los Angeles Area. He was first team All-City in Los Angeles his senior year. He has a strong arm and is very elusive. He's a good fit for Urban Meyer's spread offense. Originally committed to Utah when Meyer was the coach there.

QUALITY GRADE A: It's hard to top the fifth ranked (by quarterback in the nation. QUANTITY GRADE A-: A second quarterback wasn't a must but would have been a nice luxury.

RUNNING BACK: Kestahn Moore of Arlington, Texas averaged 9.46 yards per carry while scoring 23 touchdowns his senior year. He was rated number 29 nationally by He's also a fine pass receiver. He's got nice size (5-10, 205) and he runs with very good power.

QUALITY GRADE A-: The Gators whiffed on a couple of running backs who were rated higher, but Moore is an excellent back. QUANTITY GRADE C: The Gators have three running backs on the roster, one who has had some injury problems in the past and another who has had some shaky moments in the classroom. Getting two running backs was important, but Florida got one, which is better than none.

WIDE RECEIVER: The Gators went for tall receivers with speed. Nyan Boateng and David Nelson were US Army All-Americans and Louis Murphy had such a great Rising Senior Camp at UF last summer that he became an early commit. Boateng (rated number 38 by didn't play his senior year because of an ankle injury suffered in August. From Brooklyn, Boateng is a 6-2, 200-pounder with outstanding speed and leaping ability. Boateng played high school hoops with Sebastian Telfair (Portland Trail Blazers), and he's likely to make some All-State teams in basketball this year. Nelson is 6-6, 198, from Wichita Falls, Texas. He caught 141 passes for 2720 yards and 32 touchdowns in his final two seasons. Originally committed to Notre Dame, he is rated number 24 nationally by He averages 19 points and 11 rebounds per game in basketball. Murphy is 6-3, 190, from St. Petersburg Lakewood. Rated number 47 nationally by, he had 26 catches for 520 yards. He's an Eagle Scout who is also a star on Lakewood's top ranked basketball team and the anchor leg on one of the state's best 4X100 relay teams in track. All three receivers are outstanding students in the classroom.

QUALITY GRADE A: These are three tall, fast and athletic receivers who have shown great hands and no fear going across the middle. All three are deep threats. QUANTITY GRADE A: The Gators wanted one or two more receivers, but more than three would be a luxury.

OFFENSIVE LINE: All three of the Gators offensive line signees will redshirt their freshman year. Eddie Haupt and Ronnie Wilson are early enrollees, already in school at UF. Haupt, 6-4, 280, is rated number 23 nationally by The Merritt Island big man averaged 13 pancake blocks per game. Wilson, from Pompano Beach Blanche Ely, is rated number 19 nationally by The 6-4, 350-pounder had surgery on his broken foot but he will be ready to go in the summer for conditioning. The third signee is South Miami's Simon Coddington, an offensive tackle prospect rated number 52 nationally by In four years as a varsity starter, he didn't allow a single sack.

QUALITY GRADE A: All three are quality players who were recruited heavily by the state's big three. QUANTITY GRADE C: Florida got three very good players, but five was the target and four considered the acceptable minimum.

ATHLETES: The Gators signed two intriguing prospects in Brian Ellis of Daytona Beach Mainland and Eric Sledge of Apopka. Ellis is a 6-3, 235-pounder who is rated as the number 11 tight end by He caught 24 balls for 405 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. He is fast enough to play linebacker and has the body to grow into a big defensive end. He'll start at tight end, but might be moved quickly to defense. Sledge is a 6-2, 195-pounder who played wide receiver and safety in high school. He's rated number 60 nationally as a wideout by He caught 17 balls for 300 yards and four touchdowns, but on defense broke up nine passes and picked off four as a safety. He could play safety, wide receiver or even grow into a fast outside linebacker. He'll start first at wide receiver.

QUALITY GRADE B+: Ellis and Sledge are both big, strong kids with speed and versatility. QUANTITY GRADE A: Two athletes is what the class called for.

DEFENSIVE LINE: Richard Gordon was committed to the Gators on Monday before signing day, but on Tuesday he switched to Miami. James McKinney and DeMarcus Granger were on the Gator board at one time or another, but they went elsewhere. Florida had a last second shot at Lawrence Wilson but he picked Ohio State on signing day. QUALITY GRADE F: That's what you get when you go oh-fer. QUANTITY GRADE F: Same story, different verse.

LINEBACKER: The Gators landed four high quality prospects in this critical position, signing two in-state studs (Jon Demps and Ryan Stamper) and two from out-of-state (Daryl Gresham and Kalvin Baker). Demps, 6-4, 219, from Pensacola Washington, was rated number 32 by He's an inside linebacker who is a hard hitter and sure tackler. He nearly waffled the night before signing day, but came to his senses and signed with the Gators. Stamper, 6-1, 217, from Jacksonville First Coast, was originally an Auburn commit, but he switched to UF immediately when Meyer offered. Rated number 42 by, he is a fast outside linebacker who is a terror rushing the passer. Gresham, 6-3, 251, is a tough middle linebacker who is rated number 67 by From Roanoke, Virginia, he is the son of former Gator basketball player Darryl Gresham. The former Virginia commitment led the state of Virginia in tackles. Baker committed to the Gators immediately after the Rising Senior Camp at UF back in July. The 6-0, 245-pounder from Columbus, Georgia, he was rated number 45 by A pass rushing terror, he recorded 43 sacks in his final two seasons.

QUALITY GRADE A: All four of these linebackers were on just about everybody's wish list. They can all play and they will have to because of depth problems at this position. QUANTITY GRADE B+: The Gators needed at least five here, but it's possible that both Ellis and Sledge will grow into linebackers.

DEFENSIVE BACK: The Gators came up with one lockdown corner in Avery Atkins, one versatile corner/safety prospect in Dorian Munroe, and the best junior college player in the nation in Reggie Nelson. Atkins, from Daytona Beach Mainland, is rated fifth at his position by The 5-11, 189-pounder intercepted eight passes and ran three of them back for touchdowns. As a running back, he had a high game of 306 yards. Munroe, 6-0, 191, is from Miami Coral Reef where he was rated the number 11 corner nationally by Munroe ran for three touchdowns, passed for three touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and intercepted three passes. Nelson, 6-1, 190, from Coffeyville, Kansas Junior College, originally signed with the Gators in 2003. He redshirted one year at Coffeyville, then played in 2004. He is the most highly rated junior college player in the nation.

QUALITY GRADE A+: All three of these are players who will be in the mix from day one. It would be hard to find another school that signed three better DBs than this bunch. QUANTITY GRADE B+: Another corner would have been very, very nice.

KICKER: Jonathon Phillips of Wellington hit on 18-21 field goals attempts inside the 45 during his high school career. Rated the number two kicker in the nation by, he had a long field goal of 47 yards and has hit from 67 yards in practice. Over 95 percent of his kickoffs were touchbacks.

QUALITY GRADE A: Hard to beat getting the second best kicker in the country. QUANTITY GRADE A: One was needed, one was signed.

QUALIFYING ISSUES: There are only two in this class with any kind of academic issues and both of them are expected to make it in without a problem. Reggie Nelson is back at Coffeyville where he has only one class to make up so that he can graduate. Expect all 18 to be on the field when fall practice begins.

OVERALL QUALITY GRADE A: The Gators signed a class of just 18 and there are no reaches in this class, so the overall quality grade has to be an A. There are a lot of players in this class who will play immediately, particularly the defensive backs and linebackers.

OVERALL QUANTITY GRADE B: The Gators whiffed at defensive line and came up a body or two short at a couple of other positions of need, so the best grade possible here is a B.

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