Heater Pleased With CB Recruiting Class

There was no question that one of the recruiting priorities for the class of 2006 was the cornerback position. Florida lost both starters and had a reserve corner transfer out so bringing in quality kids who can get ready to play at the next level quickly was imperative. The Gators wanted to sign five corners but fell short of that goal by one. In terms of talent, however, Coach Chuck Heater is very pleased with the four that Florida signed.

The single most important ingredient for corners with the way Florida plays its defensive schemes is speed. The Gators play man coverage 90 percent of the time so fast guys who can cover is essential. The four players the Gators signed are all track stars who have the speed to close quickly or to run someone down on the field. Heater also likes that he has four very aggressive kids who have flexibility and the ability to change directions quickly.

Probably the guy on the top of the cornerback recruiting board all season was St. Augustine's Jacques Rickerson. Rickerson was a mainstay for the Yellow Jackets' undefeated run to the state 3A championship in 2005. He played on both sides of the ball but it's in the secondary where the 5-10, 180-pounder made his mark.

"He is a true cornerback and already functions well as a true corner," Heater said. "He is quick and athletic. He has a great knack of making plays. Some guys can do that and always seem to make the plays. He is that guy."

The Gator staff did a lot of their evaluations of corners at the UF football camps last summer. The Gators had a lot of top wide receiver talent in their camps so it was possible to see cornerback prospects in one-on-one situations and it also gave them a chance to see how these kids responded to coaching. They pored over hours of video tape of all the prospects they were interested in as well and that finalized their opinions. Three of the four corners the Gators signed weren't nearly as high profile as a number of kids whom the Florida staff didn't even offer.

The corner to commit to Florida was Markihe Anderson of Ft. Myers Dunbar. The 5-10, 175-pound Anderson played mostly wide receiver in high school but the Florida staff loved his tenacity and physical ability when he played defense at the Gator camp.

"We made our judgment on (Anderson) in camp in a very competitive atmosphere," Heater said. "He did an outstanding job and had good measurables with his speed and quickness. He has the prototype skills for a cornerback."

Next up was a local speed merchant from P.K. Yonge in Gainesville. Derrick Robinson is one of the fastest players in America. He's been timed at 4.25 in the 40-yard dash at a football combine and he has run the fastest 60-yard time ever at a nationally sanctioned baseball combine. Baseball will be a huge issue for Robinson and the Gators since he is projected to go in the first round of the baseball draft in June. He may also have the most ability of any corner in the Florida recruiting class.

"We would love to coach Derrick," Heater said. "The truth of the matter is he will have a lot of opportunities in June and will have to evaluate. We want him to be here with the tools he has but we will have to wait and see how that all unfolds."

One of the best kept secrets in southwest Florida this year was Wondy Pierre-Louise. The 6-0, 178-pounder is a tremendous athlete. Not only is he blazing fast, he is also the returning national high school leader in the long jump and triple jump. He has tremendous agility and good football instincts but he is a raw talent since he has played organized football for just a little over three years. Heater is eager to see how he can help refine Pierre-Louis' talent to get him on the football field.

"He's a tall corner which is really hard to get," Heater said. "He's over six-feet and that's very rare. He's a very athletic kid and long. He has big time top end speed. In a lot of ways he is peculiar because of his size and speed. They are a rare combination."

Whether it's four who will be taking the practice field in August or just three, the new cornerbacks will have to get ready to play in a hurry. Florida has three returning seniors and that means it is important for the Gators to get as much experience possible for the young guys this year. It also means that recruiting corners is going to be high priority for the class of 2007.

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