Class of '08 Meets the Needs

Head coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the Gator coaching staff put an end to another recruiting season today with the signing of 14 players to go along with eight who are already enrolled at the University. The Gators did a tremendous job of filling needs on the defensive side of the ball.

Will Hill, from St. Peters Preparatory School in Jersey City, N.J. will have a chance to come in and play right away at the free safety spot. His athletic ability is unmatched, and with his 6-3, 205-pound frame, he will hit you. He has true 4.43 speed and has the ability to cover a lot of ground while the ball is in the air.

Defensive tackle Omar Hunter from Buford (Ga.) High School is the second highest ranked player at his position. Hunter, at 6-1, 297-pounds is a true run stopper that gets off blocks very quickly and bursts into the backfield. He like Hill will have a chance to come in right away and earn playing time.

Florida added extremely important pieces on the defensive side of the ball with players like William Green, Lerentee McCray, Janoris Jenkins, Brendan Beal, Dee Finley, Troy Epps, Adrian Bushell, Jeremy Brown and Earl Okine.

Green, from Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park High School is a fantastic looking strong side linebacker/defensive end that is athletic and can run. At 6-5 and 215-pounds, Green also has a chance to crack the depth chart in 2008. While players like Hunter and Hill get most of the attention, landing Green from the state of Alabama was a huge addition to the Gators class.

Brendan Beal, from Bethlehem (Pa.) Liberty High School is 6-3, 240-pounds and has a chance to be the back up to Brandon Spikes from day one. He was all-everything his senior year as was a critical early enrollee for the Gators.

One time Miami commitmen, Lerentee McCray from Dunnellon (Fla.) is the third linebacker in this year's class. McCray plays the weakside and has great quickness and speed. He is another player in the 6-3, 200-pound rage and speed is the name of his game.

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, Troy Epps is from Coffeyville Community College in Kansas - the same school that produced Reggie Nelson - and should be able to provide immediate help on the interior of the defensive line. Epps, at 6-2 and a now 285-pounds has great ability to read the blocks and disrupt plays in the backfield before they ever get started.

Byran Jones is from Jacksonville (Fla.) Nathan Bedford High School and at 6-3, 305-pounds might be the strongest guy in the class. Jones benches well over 400-pounds and believes that 500 is not out of the question. For that very reason, you can expect Jones to start out on the defensive line but could move back to offensive guard at some point in the future.

Rounding out the defensive line is defensive end Earl Okine, the Gators' first public commitment of the 2008 class. Okine, from Gainesville High School has tremendous upside at 6-7, 240-pounds. In recruiting you must take care of your own back yard and Florida was able to do that very early in the recruiting process. Keep an eye on Okine.

It was obvious that the Gators had targeted secondary as a need position this year in regards to recruiting and they came up in a big way. cornerbacks Jeremy Brown, Janoris Jenkins and Adrian Bushell round out a fantastic looking secondary class.

Brown and Jenkins are currently rooming together and will benefit tremendously with enrolling early. Brown, who is listed at 163 has put on 10-pounds of muscle his short stay in Gainesville and is up to 173. Gator fans can expect to see Brown in the 185 range by the time Hawaii comes to town. Brown, from Orlando (Fla.) Boone High School is my guy to keep an eye on in the secondary and has gone under the radar so to speak. He single handedly lead Boone to the state championship game on the defensive side of the ball. Brown also has the ability to play on the offensive side of the ball as well as a wide receiver.

Janoris Jenkins from Pahokee (Fla.) High School was the most impressive looking corner back in Orlando. Jenkins, 5-11, 180-pounds has legit 4.4 speed and is very aggressive and excels in press type coverage.

Rounding out the cornerback class is a player that is a bit of an unknown, Adrian Bushell. Bushell, from DeSoto (Texas) High School is similar in size to Jenkins at 5-11 but weighs 188-pounds and also has great speed at 4.40.

In addition to landing the nation's top safety in Will Hill, Florida also landed the second best safety in my opinion in Dee Finley. Finley hits like a truck and plays the game down hill. Finley is from Auburn (Ala.) High School and was another big addition to this year's class. Anytime you can get a top ranked player out of the state of Alabama it is no small task and this year the Gators landed two in Finley and Green. Finley is 6-3 and 205-pounds. He might not be the fastest guy but as the Nations number one wide receiver found out (Julio Jones) when he gets you it's hard to forget.

On the offensive side of the ball the name of the game was to add some key pieces and the Gators certainly did that with guys like Carl Moore and Emanuel Moody. Even though Moody doesn't count on this year's numbers he will have a certain impact on next season.

Carl Moore, to a man, might be the best wide receiver in the nation. Moore, from Sierra Junior College is 6-4, 225-pounds and runs a legit 4.44. One current Southeastern Conference offensive coordinator said he is the best wide out he has seen in the last five years. A guy with his size and ability to cut on a dime to go along with his hands will make for a deadly combination for Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

In addition to Moore, the Gators landed three more wide receivers with Frankie Hammond, Jr., Omarius Hines and T.J. Lawrence.

Frankie Hammond, Jr. from Hallandale (Fla.) High School is 6-1, 170-pounds and doesn't run but glides across the football field. He has tremendous burst and vision and catches everything with his hands at the balls highest point.

Omarius Hines, from Corsicana (Texas) High School is the same height as Hammond but a little bigger at 185 pounds. Hines does a good job of getting off the line of scrimmage and runs good routes.

The Gators came up big on National Signing Day when Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen Senior High School star T.J. Lawrence chose the Gators on national television. Lawrence is 6-2, 200-pounds and was very impressive the entire week of practice in Orlando going up against corner back Brandon Harris everyday in practice. He has great hands and runs great routes and has that uncanny ability to go up and get the ball before defenders have a chance at it. Lawrence went under the radar but is a huge get for the Gators on the offensive side of the ball.

In the backfield, the Gators landed running back Jeff Demps and H-back T.J. Pridemore. Demps, from Groveland (Fla.) South Lake High School may be the nation's fastest player. At 5-9, 180-pounds when Demps gets in space it's off to the races. In the Urban Meyer offense if you have speed and can make people miss in the open field you are going to be a dangerous weapon and Demps does both extremely well.

T.J. Pridemore is a teammate of Omar Hunter. He is 6-2, 240-pounds and loves to hit you. He can play on either side of the ball but has a chance to come in and win the starting H-back position. He plays the game with a nasty attitude and absolutely destroys people blocking out of the backfield.

Caleb Sturgis might make the biggest impact next season for the Gators from the class of 2008. Sturgis, 5-11, 185-pounds to a man was one of the most impressive players on the field in Orlando. He has the ability to kick 50 yard field goals with ease and has no problem on kick offs sailing the ball through the end zone. Sturgis is from Saint Augustine (Fla.) High School and is the nation's number two ranked kicker.

On the offensive line, the Gators landed three players. The headliner without question is five-star offensive tackle Matt Patchan from Seffner (Fla.) Armwood High School. Patchan is one of the most explosive players you will see and actually has a chance to get into the defensive end rotation as a freshman. He is 6-7, 245-pounds. He is a different person when he steps on the field and has a motor that won't stop. The Gators found themselves in an intense recruiting battle with the Miami Hurricanes for his services and came out on top. He has that old school mentality of playing through the whistle and in one on one situations is dominating from both sides of the ball.

Sam Robey from Louisville (Ky.) Trinity High School is a super looking prospect that's 6-6, 275-pounds and is very fast for a player of his size running a 4.9. The Gators are deep across the entire offensive line and will be in a great position to red shirt most of if not all of the incoming offensive lineman.

The Gators ended the day landing another huge offensive tackle in David Young. Young is 6-6, 290-pounds and is a three year starter. In those three years he did not give up one sack and was never flagged for holding. Young is from Edwardsville (Ill.) High School.

Overall, it was a tremendous haul for the Gators and head coach Urban Meyer. The class as a unit is very fast, athletic and has tons of potential. More importantly the Gators filled all their need positions.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Jason Higdon


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