's Safrit Talks Gators, Recruiting

Back in February when University of Florida Coach Urban Meyer talked about prime recruiting areas of interest for the Gators, he Immediately mentioned Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Florida and Georgia are no-brainers due to the riches of talent and proximity to the school. Texas made the list because it is a state loaded with talent and Florida's staff has a history of recruiting the Lone Star State.

Obviously, the Gators are going after the top talent in those three states, but the recruiting thrust that Florida's staff is making stretches far beyond those borders. It seems the Gators are more than just a blip on the radar of the top players in every region of the country. This year there is an abundance of talent up and down the eastern seaboard.

To get a handle on how the Gators are doing in that region, Gator Country spent some time with Miller Safrit, who handles the east region for Miller is in his third year of working for and he's in his fifth year of covering college football recruiting.

Bob Redman: Can you tell the Gator fans out there, in general, what kind of impact has Urban Meyer and the Gators made in recruiting the eastern region of the United States just this year?

Miller Safrit: Urban has really turned up the heat this year all across the region. Four years ago, Al Groh made waves by kicking things up a notch in recruiting and it seems like every top prospect is talking Florida.

BR: Can you give Gator fans a brief repot on incoming freshman linebacker Darryl Gresham from Roanoke, Virginia?

MS: Darryl is a kid that felt he was destined to play in the SEC for a long time, and he really plays like he belongs in the conference. Tough and great range really typifies his playing style, and while it could be tough for him to see the field with great talent in front, Gresham will work hard to find that playing time.

BR: The Gators are definitely hitting the eastern region hard. With North Carolina in your territory, can you tell us what you think of Gator offensive line commitment Carl Johnson?

MS: I was really surprised with the early decision. Not so much that he picked the Gators, but simply that he committed in early June. The sky is the limit with this big man, and living with the head coach helps him learn how to watch film and more about his position in general.

BR: Another North Carolina native, Brandon Spikes, has made two unofficial trips to Gainesville. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: Brandon is a kid that I first scouted at a practice watching three of his teammates three years ago. He is the type of player that scouts love in that he was freakishly big and fast as a sophomore, destined for stardom. The hard part for Brandon is figuring out just where he will end up on defense. He is already bigger than most linebackers at the next level and he is still getting bigger. However, he has the speed and attitude to stay on as a strongside or middle linebacker. In recruiting, I really like the chances with Florida right now.

BR: Brandon Minor is a very highly regarded running back out of Virginia. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: Minor really stood out to me on film because of his consistency. He will consistently find the first down marker and keep running over players. While he is not a home-run hitter, he has the body to carry the ball upwards of 30 times in a game. I like Miami and Florida in this battle right now, but Michigan is the darkhorse.

BR: Myron Rolle is's number one player in the country from New Jersey. He has his favorites but doesn't tip his hand. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: To me, there are two players that are heads-and-shoulders above the rest at their positions: Myron Rolle and Andre Smith. Myron has the range and closing speed of a cornerback in the size of a linebacker. He can completely shut down a deep half of the field if he wants or come up and make a solid hit in run defense. The impressive thing to me was his potential even at running back, where he could star for many schools in college. On the field, and especially off the field, Myron is a great kid who, while keeping hints at a final team close to the vest will star wherever he goes.

BR: Percy Harvin and Damon McDaniel are two big-time wide receivers on the same high school team in Virginia. Can you tell us your thoughts on them as players and a little about their recruitment?

MS: Percy is the speed demon that every team wants to stretch the field. These players are few and far between, but Percy brings an extra asset of movement with the ball that makes him a threat even on quick hits on the edge. I like Florida and Virginia Tech here with Southern Cal right there.

Damon fills some of the holes that Landstown needs when teams are double-teaming Percy, including gritty third-down catches and improbable grabs in the endzone. Things are too close to call for Damon in recruiting.

BR: Cornerback Darrin Walls is highly rated and thinks highly of the Gators. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: Watching Darrin on film, I cannot help but love his closing speed. Few players can make up ground quite like that.

BR: Continuing on the defensive front, the Gators are in the mix for Jared Odrick of Pennsylvania. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: I love the way that Jared comes off the ball. The film that we have on Jared was not his best game, but he still shows some flashes of unbridled brilliance. He has a lot of work to go to show his polish, but there is no question that he can become an unstoppable defensive tackle or, where I think he has the best potential, road-grading offensive lineman with tremendous feet and long arms.

BR: Yet again another highly rated defensive tackle in Phillip Taylor of Maryland is looking at the Gators. Can you tell us your thoughts on him as a player and a little about his recruitment?

MS: Having seen Phillip at several combines, he shows that he has the ability to play without equal. His match of strength and speed allows him to dominate in one-on-one matchups. He is going to require plenty of double-teams in college, and he will provide some great matchup problems.

BR: OK, I'm going to put you on the spot a little, understanding that this is just an opinion. It is more than seven months until signing day. Tell us where you think each of the above players will sign.


Brandon Spikes --- Florida

Brandon Minor --- Miami

Myron Rolle --- Florida State

Percy Harvin --- Florida

Damon McDaniel --- Virginia Tech

Darrin Walls --- Michigan

Tom McEowen --- Penn State

Jared Odrick --- Penn State

Phillip Taylor --- Maryland

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