RECRUITING: The Era Of Multi-Taskers

In this era of football when players are specializing at one position even in high school, an interesting trend is developing on the recruiting front. Instead of loading up with specialists who can only play one position, college coaches are starting to fill up their classes with players who have played multiple positions on their high school teams. We seem to be entering the recruiting era of "the athlete."

Finding a player who can fit a team's need isn't always the easiest thing to do. The kid who excels in high school on offense may be a better fit on defense and it may take some convincing to get the kid to switch sides of the ball once he's in college. A lot of kids who are stars on one side of the ball in high school have better futures on the other side of the ball, so recruiters have to be pretty good salesmen to convince a recruit they have his best interests in mind.

One "athlete" who will stay on the same side of the ball but switch positions in college is Florida commitment Jarred Fayson of Tampa Hillsborough. He's a great quarterback at the high school level who is rated five stars by There is a very good chance he could excel at that position in college. There is a far better chance he can succeed in college and even the next level past that at wide receiver. Fayson has accepted the idea that he can switch positions and have a better future.

Then there are the "athletes" who are multi-taskers. There guys seem to be the razor's edge of the next recruiting trend. Finding that athlete who can excel at more than one position is a win-win situation. Just get the kid on campus and then it's possible to simply plug him in to the position where he's needed most.

Florida's latest commitment, Riley Cooper of Clearwater Central Catholic, has the ability to be an outstanding player on either side of the ball. He's 6-4, 205 and has the speed to go with the hands to be a fine wide receiver but chances are he's going to find his place in the sun at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as a hard hitting safety. At safety he will be able to use his instincts to go up and get the ball while using his size and strength to hammer receivers who venture across the middle.

Because Cooper is a great high school baseball player who is likely to be drafted very high in the Major League Baseball Draft in June, he draws favorable comparisons to John Lynch. Lynch was a Pro Bowl safety for the Tampa Bay Bucs before he moved on to the Denver Broncos. In high school he was a two-sport star who was a great baseball player and in football, a great player on both sides of the ball. He became an All-American safety at Stanford, where he was a second round draft pick in the baseball draft.

At CCC, Cooper's defensive stats are eye-opening. He finished with 324 tackles and 10 interceptions. Cooper is rated four stars by

Another "athlete" in the Florida recruiting class is Jamar Hornsby of Jacksonville Sandalwood. He has size, speed and the ability to go up and get the ball as a wide receiver but he's also a vicious hitter in the defensive backfield. Hornsby is rated five stars by

I remember watching Hornsby play as a junior and I thought of the former University of Tennessee superstar and current Jacksonville Jaguar Deion Grant. Hornsby is 6-4, 210. He runs the field as well as any safety in America. Clearly he could excel on offense, but you don't find hitters in the secondary who have his kind of range. So plug him in as an "athlete," capable of producing on both sides of the ball and a win-win situation for the Florida Gators.

Another who perfectly fits the "athlete" category is Justin Williams, the four-star rated cornerback/wide receiver out of Folkston (GA) Charlton County. He has made life miserable for opposing secondaries as a pass receiver and there is no question he has the ability to stand out as a pass catcher in college. But, it is at cornerback where he will likely step up his game at the college level.

What makes Williams the kind of athlete that coaches drool over is the quickness to go with a long, lean 6-2, 182-pound body. This makes him the prototypical corner for today's professional football. At corner for Charlton County as a senior, he had 33 tackles, five interceptions (two for TDs), and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.

It is a huge bonus for the Gators to recruit versatile "athletes." Coach Urban Meyer continually talks about putting the best 11 players on the field at the same time. Having players who are multi-taskers will help him to find the best combination of players to fit into Florida's schemes on both sides of the ball.

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