The atmosphere should be electric with a crowd that could exceed 92,000. The noise level and the excitement should provide recruits with a first taste of what a real big time game and crowd are all about. Florida's coaching staff is obviously hoping that this kind of atmosphere makes a scholarship offer from the Gators an irresistible invitation to be a part of game days just like this in the future.
The Gators are bringing in top athletes at every position from all over the southeast and beyond. Many of these kids visited Gainesville in the summer so they'll get a chance to discover that the stadium is quite different when it's packed than when it's empty.
Of the nine official visitors, the top rated player is Percy Harvin of Virginia Beach (VA) Landstown. He's rated the seventh best player in the nation overall by Scout.com. He should be joined by his teammate, Damon McDaniel, a fine receiver in his own right. McDaniel is rated four stars. This will be the second time that Harvin and McDaniel have visited Gainesville. They were here during the summer along with their football coach. Another Tidewater Virginia standout, wide receiver Chris Bell from Norfolk Granby, will also be attending. Bell is thought to have the Gators at the top of his list.
Hot 100 cornerback/wide receiver Darrin Walls of Pittsburgh and US Army All-American defensive lineman Jarred Odrick of Lebanon (PA) are expected in. The Gators have some ground to make up with Walls but they have a real shot at Odrick, who is also heavily recruited by Penn State.
A couple of big Georgia prospects are supposed to show up. Four-star safety and Auburn commitment Mario Fannin and Milledgeville Baldwin County's big offensive tackle Maurice Hurt are on the visit list. Hurt has been to Florida on unofficial visits and he's spoken favorably of the Gators. Florida should have a good chance to land Hurt.
The quarterback board will be well represented. Gator commitment Jevan Snead of Stephenville (TX) will take his official visit. He was at Florida's camp earlier in the summer. He'll be joined by Tim Tebow of St. Augustine Nease and Tampa Hillsborough's Jarred Fayson. Both Tebow and Fayson are rated five stars by Scout.com. Neither Tebow or Fayson is making an official visit, however. Tebow is a quarterback all the way while Fayson's athletic skills are intriguing and he could be a quarterback, wide receiver or a running back at the next level.
Scout.com learned last night that five-star receiver/safety Jamar Hornsby of Jacksonville Sandalwood will use this weekend for his official visit. Florida is the clear favorite to land him in the recruiting class. Four-star wideout Riley Cooper of Clearwater Central Catholic will also make this an official visit weekend. He's been to UF several times on unofficial visits.
This game could be important in the recruiting process for Lake Butrler Union County running back C.J. Spiller, whom most think has his choices narrowed down to Florida and Florida State. This will be an unofficial for Spiller, a five-star rated back who has 4.28 speed. The big game atmosphere may prove to be an important factor in getting Spiller's commitment. The Gators also play Florida State in Gainesville so that will be another chance to make an impression.
Some of the unofficial visitors on the wide receiver board include Justin Williams of Folkston, Georgia and Georgia commitment (four-star rated) Tony Wilson of Daytona Beach Mainland. Deland's speedy Johnny Patrick will make a return visit to Gainesville after showing well at Friday Night Lights as well. Patrick is hoping to get the offer from the Gators.
Some of the offensive linemen coming in for unofficial visits include Gator commitment (five star rated) Carl Johnson of Durham (NC) Northern. The Pancake Man will be making at least his third unofficial visit to Gainesville. He will be joined by the tackle two-some of Sam Young and Marcus Gilbert from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas. Young is rated five stars and Gilbert is rated four. Florida ranks high with both these big guys.
Florida's two commitments on the defensive line, tackles Corey Hobbs of Oviedo and Terron Sanders of Bradenton Southeast, will be making unofficial visits as will another Gator commit, linebacker Dustin Doe of Live Oak Suwannee.
Hot 100 linebacker Brandon Spikes of Shelby (NC) Crest is rated at the top of Florida's middle linebacker board. He has already made several visits to Gainesville so the Gators are in good shape for this tackling machine. .
Florida commitment Markihe Anderson, a cornerback from Fort Myers who committed to UF after an impressive camp showing in the summer, will be up for the game. Some of the other top defensive backs expected in are St. Augustine's Jacques Rickerson and Zephyrhills safety Bryan Thomas. Rickerson is considered a Gator lean while Thomas told Gator Country that the Gators are in the lead for his services. Miami defensive backs Patrick Robinson and Darrin Baldwin should be in attendance. Robinson, rated four stars, is a corner prospect said to be leaning to Tennessee or maybe Florida State. Baldwin lived in Gainesville for a couple of years. He was at Florida's camp during the summer and he remains a priority recruit for the Gators in South Florida.
University of Florida assistant Coach Doc Holliday has a vested interest in the visitors this weekend. Holliday is the south Florida recruiter for the Gators a well as North Carolina area. Four players due to visit are from his recruiting area. Holliday understands what big game atmospheres do for recruiting.
"I think any time you have national exposure we are going to get --- it's a feature game --- along with the number of recruits that are going to be on campus, it's got to help," Holliday said.
Florida Coach Urban Meyer understands the importance of the game and the impact it can have on recruits. Meyer wants the big time players to come and see just how it is in he swamp, or at least get a taste of it on television.
"I can't mention any names, but there are going to be some of the best players in the country here … a lot of them," Meyer said. "I think for any program and any game of this caliber the entire country will be watching. They want to see this style, they want to see this atmosphere and I know it is going to be electric. So, yes, it will be a big part of recruiting."
In all, 10 of the current Scout.com Hot 100 players should be in attendance Saturday for this game of national importance: quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receivers Percy Harvin, Jarred Fayson, Jamar Hornsby and Chris Bell, running back C.J. Spiller, offensive linemen Sam Young, and Carl Johnson, linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive back Darrin Walls. Some twenty or more other four star athletes and others that should be will dot the stands of the south end zone on Saturday night.