Defensive Talent Galore Expected For FNL

It isn't just the offensive players who will get a chance to showcase their skills at the Senior Development Camp at the University of Florida tonight. When the "Friday Night Lights" event cranks up at 8 p.m. at The Swamp, some of the top defensive players in the southeast will be using the opportunity to catch the attention of the Florida coaching staff.

Here is a look at some of the headline talent on the defensive side of the ball that is expected to make it to Gainesville tonight. Defensive Linemen:

Florida's two defensive line commitments will be in Gainesville either for the "Friday Night Lights" or Saturday's Junior Day at Lake Wauberg. Corey Hobbs of Oviedo committed to the Gators on Father's Day in June. He had previously attended Junior Day on June 4. Terron Sanders of Bradenton Southeast followed a dominating performance in the Florida camp in June with a scholarship offer a couple of weeks later. He committed immediately after receiving his offer.

Several out of state players who rank high on Florida's defensive line list are expected for Friday Night Lights. Four star defensive tackle Phillip Taylor from Brandywine (MD) Gwynn Park hasn't been to Gainesville this summer, so this camp will be an opportunity for first impressions. Another top defensive talent who hasn't been to Gainesville previously is end Kiante Tripp of Atlanta (GA) Westlake. Tripp is rated four stars. He is a former teammates of the Gators' Mike Brown. Also expected to attend are Georgians Jermaine Cunningham, a speed rush end from Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson and end Byron Isom of Lovejoy. Isom's highly regarded teammate Mario Fannin committed to Auburn this week and it is possible that might influence Isom to remain at home instead of visiting Gainesville. Jarred Fayson's high school teammate from Hillsborough, Leslie Stirrups, is one of the top Floridians. Stirrups has been considered a Miami lean and there have been reports that Fayson is also leaning that way. However, both will be in Gainesville for the weekend.

Two players who don't have scholarship offers are expected to attend. Defensive end Jamil Paris of Sebastian River and defensive tackle Reggie Odom of DeLand are hoping to use this one-day camp as a springboard to that elusive scholarship offer from the Gators. Paris attended the June camp. He is a great looking physical specimen whose only flaw is not enough game film for coaches to evaluate his performance. He only played in four games as a junior due to the hurricanes of 2004 and some nagging injuries. Odom is a Gator Country favorite, big, strong and with good grades.


Two of Cunningham's teammates from Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson are among the top linebackers who should make it to Gainesville. Marcus Ball is a member of the National Top 100. His teammate Kelvin Sheppard doesn't have a Florida offer yet but he has ideal size and good fundamentals. Another Georgian expected is Morrice Richardson of Atlanta Westlake. Chasman Davis, the four star linebacker from Fort Pierce (FL) West Centennial is thought to be an Auburn lean but he has indicated he will attend. Clearwater Central Catholic's Colin McCarthy was a big hit at the Tampa combine. He had 163 tackles, four sacks and five interceptions as a junior. He has quite a few offers but this is his chance to catch the attention of the Florida coaches.

Defensive Backs:

This is one of the premier positions for the camp and it includes Markihe Anderson of Fort Meyers Dunbar, who attended the Florida camp in June and committed to the Gators shortly afterward. Jacques Rickerson of St Augustine has been to Gainesville several times but he is expected Friday night as well. He is good friends with Jamar Hornsby of Jacksonville Sandalwood. Long thought to be a Florida lean, Rickerson has opened his recruiting up a bit and he's coming to Gainesville after a MVP performance at the Auburn camp. Homestead (FL) South Dade cornerback Darin Baldwin has a Florida offer and he's also an alumnus of the June camp as is Zephyrhills safety Bryan Thomas. Some think that Thomas may announce a commitment to Florida after this weekend. From a ratings perspective, the top defensive backfield talent expected into Gainesville this weekend is Jai Eugene of Destrehan (LA), who is rated number one in the nation. Asher Allen of Tucker (GA) is a four star type who lists Florida among his favorites. Patrick Robinson of South Miami recently got a Florida offer. He's one of the faster defensive backs expected in to Gainesville.

On the defensive side of the ball, there are two players I think that will leave Gainesville with a scholarship offer after the weekend. I like Reggie Odom of DeLand and Colin McCarthy of Clearwater Central Catholic to walk away with scholarship offers. Jamil Paris could get an offer but the lack of game film may cause Florida's coaches to play wait and see. Paris seems content with this approach.

This is just a partial list of the prospects who will be in Gainesville for Friday Night Lights. While a number of the players mentioned in this story are coming to Gainesville with the hope of receiving an offer or solidifying their position Florida's recruiting board, there will be many more prospects that have flown under the radar. For them, this is a chance to make their presence known to the Florida staff. Speculation about which players might get a scholarship offer is strictly my own personal opinion.

Fightin Gators Top Stories