Recruiting Insights

Move over Brady, it is now time for <B>Recruiting Insights</B>. In installment number one, I review what happened this weekend in Gainesville and give some thoughts on a lot of recruits that are still on the Florida Gator recruiting board.

Each Monday, Brady brought you Ack's Insights… his thoughts about the Gator football team. Now that the season is over and we are all awaiting the Outback Bowl, then Signing Day, here are my recruiting insights regarding Florida's visitors from this past weekend. There were 11 in all.

First things first, lets talk commitments. Jermaine Moreira is really emerging as a hot prospect. The Georgia Bulldogs are trying to convince him to come in for an official visit but that could ruin things with him and the Gators. Right now, he is going to Florida and the Gators are landing one playmaker. He will play receiver at Florida.

Dwight Stephenson visited UF and he should end up at Florida. Stephenson's father, Dwight, Sr., was a little skeptical of the Gators but after the weekend, I think things will be fine… at least that is what Jr. told me last night. Dad had a real good visit with the coaching staff. It looks like he will still visit Washington and Tennessee.

The Gators are looking to make a splash in the Junior College ranks. They got a big one from California this weekend in Anthony Guerrero. He is publicly committed to Florida and should play guard. He will sign on Wednesday. But the big question or shall I say questions are the other JUCOs? Tavares Washington is a tackle/ guard prospect from Mississippi Delta JUCO. He told me last night that he wants to decide between Florida, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Memphis. Washington has visited all those schools. He said a lot of positive things about the Gators and I think he will likely sign with Florida on Wednesday. I also heard he bought a ton of Gator gear on his way out of Gainesville. Believe it or not, that is a great sign. After all, he signs on Wednesday and what will he do with all that gear on Thursday in Oxford or Starkville? The other JUCO OL visitor this weekend was a center prospect from Ventura JUCO in California named Billy Griffin. I am still trying to reach him. Rumor has it that he and Washington both told the Gators they are signing with them on Wednesday. But Washington wouldn't tell me that and Griffin has yet to be contacted.

Eric Holcombe didn't visit Gainesville this week but instead took two trips to Auburn and then Baton Rouge. Walking off the plane, he told me he still favored Florida. Holcombe wants to have a firm decision tonight and he plans on shutting down everything to help him decide. Holcombe is a d-tackle recruiting from NE Mississippi.

A word of caution to Florida recruiting fans. It appears that Florida should land five Junior College prospects – David Kenner, Guerrero, Washington, Griffin and Holcombe. But it will not be easy. These players will provide immediate help in need areas for the Gators. Holcombe and Washington are not done deals yet. Junior College kids, especially in Mississippi, are hard to pry away from the state. In Holcombe's case Florida is battling Auburn and he is from Mobile. I hear Mississippi State thinks they have a real shot with Washington. So these two cases could get real interesting between now and Wednesday morning. I won't be surprised if Florida lands all five. I also won't be surprised if Florida lands only three. Stay tuned.

Two prospects from Ohio came to Gainesville, Florida for the weekend to visit the Gators – tight Louis Irizarry and defensive tackle David Patterson. They were both blown away by their official visit and at least Florida made them really re-think their decisions to Ohio State. Both players are committed to the Buckeyes and right now, Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressell owns the state of Ohio. Irizarry's father is pushing him hard to Columbus while Patterson's mom really wants him to stay close to home. But I think Florida has a chance with the tight end. And remember, he has family in North Tampa (an aunt) and Florida throws to the tight end a lot more than Ohio State does. There is a shot there and Irizarry has told me on more than one occasion that he wants to be involved in an offense. I believe the Gators will have an in-home visit with both prospects this week.

Four in-state prospects took official visits to Florida that were uncommitted – Ernie Sims, Amp Hill, Dee Webb and Tranell Morant .

Sims is the nation's top rated player from Tallahassee. He is not fielding calls from the media this week but I did catch up with his father, who is very active in the recruiting process. Right now, Florida has a real shot at Mr. Sims. I am not saying he will ink with the Gators on National Signing Day but Florida made their case over the weekend and they gave Ernie and his father something to think about. Obviously, Florida has a super vet school… so does Auburn. FSU does not. That could be a factor in this thing. I still think the Seminoles will be awfully tough to beat in the end, but UF certainly made their impression.

Hill is a mystery right now. Florida needs playmakers and that is what Zook and company are selling guys like Hill, Andre Caldwell and Antonio Cromartie. Right now, I really believe LSU has a real shot to pull him out of state. But you could make a case for FSU and Florida as well. Remember, two of his friends and former teammates, Reggie Lewis and Kenneth Tookes, red-shirted this season at UF.

If Hill is a mystery that Webb is not. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised he is does something in the next week to ten days. Maybe Christmas. Webb really likes Florida but he loves Miami. He was in Gainesville this weekend and he visits Coral Gables next weekend. That is why I think he could pull the trigger to Miami or Florida after the visit to the Hurricanes. He would like to still visit Florida State in January but I don't think it lasts that long. I still would give a slight edge to Miami but Florida certainly made up some ground this past weekend and I like Florida's chances. He must have a good visit this weekend for Miami to close the deal. One thing in Florida's favor is that Webb realizes he can play earlier in Gainesville. Florida likes him at the safety position.

Like I stated earlier, Morant is one I couldn't reach last night. I will certainly try today. Again, this could ultimately be a Miami – Florida battle. The Gators and ‘Canes will go head to head on quite a few players this season and for Florida to have success in recruiting, they had better win just as many as they lose. Anyway, I hear Morant had a great visit and lets also remember his cousin is former Gator hoops standout Udonis Haslem. But I hear that he has also given Miami that dreaded silent commitment. Morant has already visited Auburn, Georgia, and Rutgers as well. Like I said, this should be another Florida – Miami recruiting war.

Expect UFI updates on Morant, Moreira and Griffin later on today or tonight.

News and Notes… Florida has made a quantum leap with cornerback standout Kenny Scott. I think this is a three-team race between Florida State, Florida and Georgia Tech… For once, I agree with Tom Lemming – Chris Leak commits to Florida on January 5th… Gator fans are getting worried about Andre Caldwell. He has set up four official visits (USC, LSU, FSU, MIA) in January but none to UF as of yet. Don't worry. He will visit Gainesville and I think Florida has a great shot to get him. But right now, I think Miami is the team to beat. The sleeper team is Southern Cal. Super freshman receiver Mike Williams and Caldwell are buddies. Remember Williams from last season? He was a wide receiver from Tampa (Fla.) Plant that the Gators recruited as a tight end… Look for offensive tackle Derek Morris to visit and commit to NC State this week… Look for Texas standouts Robert Killebrew, Tony Hills, Jarvis Moss, Demario Pleasant, Tim Washington, and some others to visit Florida in January on the weekends of the 10th or 17th… Florida is going to make a huge push at five great players from Louisiana – defensive tackle Ryan Watson and Carnell Stewart, defensive end Kirston Pittman, safety Daryl Johnson and defensive back LaRon Landry. All should visit in January and they are all as good as anyone else they are recruiting. I recently saw film of Watson and Stewart and they are absolute studs in the trenches… Florida was in great position with two Alabama blue-chip receivers – Jayson Swain and Chad Jackson. But look for Swain to commit to Tennessee later today and Jackson could very well end up at Georgia… Florida has offered quarterback Pat Carter as an athlete but right now Georgia Tech is the team to beat after his visit to Atlanta this past weekend… Florida is making a big push for offensive tackle Carlton Medder. He has already visited Georgia, FSU and NC State… If Signing Day were today, Antonio Cromartie would go to Florida and Ryan Gilliam would be torn between FSU and Oregon. Gilliam had an incredible visit out west this weekend. I still think he signs with FSU and Cromartie will be a Florida – Florida State bitter battle to the bitter end... Also Willie Cooper and Joe Cohen have set up official visits to Florida in January. Cooper is an awfully hot prospect right now.

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