11 Early Entrants Getting a Leg Up

The Florida Gators are enjoying a nice recruiting run, and down the homestretch, things may get a little easier. The Gators were able to have 11 of their eventual class of 27-28 enroll early in school allowing them to get a head start on their college careers and allowing the Gator staff to concentrate on last 16-17 spots in the class. It is a win-win for both groups, that is for sure.

When classes started on Monday, 11 of the Florida Gators class of 2010 were enrolled and attending classes in Gainesville. It is an annual right of spring for the Gators who continually push for their prospects to get ahead of the game and basically earn themselves an extra spring of football practice to further their college football career.

That the Gators can do this year in and year out is a testament to the quality of athlete they sign, but also to the rigorous path they put their student athletes through while on campus. The Gators have to have enough spots on their 85 man roster to allow 11 early entrants and that means players like Tim Tebow and Jermaine Cunningham had to finish school last semester to make openings on the scholarship limits. It is a tough haul that Florida seems to master every year.

The 11 early entrants would be the largest group yet, surpassing the nine entrants from the class of 2007. These prospects will certainly get a chance to play and see if they can hit the field early. QB Trey Burton, WR Solomon Patton, Athlete Robert Clark, TE Gerald Christian, OL Ian Silberman, DT Leon Orr, LB/DE Neiron Ball, Safety Jordan Haden, Safety Matt Elam, CB Josh Shaw, and CB Jaylen Watkins all have a chance to see the field in 2010 and now have a leg up on their fellow freshmen to do so.

Trey Burton is a mobile quarterback that was made for the Urban Meyer spread offensive attack. Burton's feet are as good as any running back in the state, his size allows him to overpower would be tacklers. His ability to throw on the run and throw deep when he has to makes him an excellent change up to starter John Brantley. Burton will be competing with redshirt freshman Jordan Reed for the backup quarterback spot.

Solomon Patton will get a great shot at the slot position this spring as will athlete Robert Clark. It is to be determined if Clark would play stick to offense or play defense right now, but that position should be wide open in the spring. Both guys bring blazing speed and athleticism to the field and will have to fight off Chris Rainey and maybe another incoming freshman for the job in the fall.

Gerald Christian has a huge opportunity to make a name for himself this spring. The all-American tight end will get a chance to compete against redshirt freshman Desmond Parks to be the starter at the position in the fall. Parks and Christian are the only two scholarship tight ends on campus right now.

Ian Silberman is a major specimen as a tackle that will have a chance to be in the two deep. Silberman has seen a lot of physical growth in the last year and is just about physically ready to compete for a two-deep spot and early playing time. This extra spring will certainly help his chances.

Leon Orr is scheduled for defense right now and the 6-5, 320-pounder would be a huge run stuffer inside. Orr is a unique athlete that is so quick, he could play either defensive tackle position, but also could be a big road grating offensive guard in college. This class and his natural fit of a position will make this a key spring for him, the Gators may really need offensive linemen and Orr has mentioned in the past he would be willing and able to play on that side of the ball.

Neiron Ball is another versatile athlete that could end up a linebacker or defensive end in college. With the need at backer, it appears he might stay there, but the loss of Jermaine Cunningham at the Fox end position means that position isn't overflowing with numbers either. Ball brings quickness and tenacity to the field from the defensive side. He is a big hitter and runs well in space.

The Gators add a pair of safeties in all-American Matt Elam and Jordan Haden. Haden could actually out grow the safety position and head to linebacker, but is a great athlete for his size. I have always maintained that Elam was the best football player in the South for the class of 2010, I think he has a unique sense of the game and of everyone on the field while the game is going on. Haden is just another in the line of brothers that is a great athlete and at one time was thought to be the best of the three Haden brothers (Joe and Josh).

The Gators welcome in two all-American cornerbacks in Jaylen Watkins and Joshua Shaw. Jaylen is the flashy, shifty cornerback with good size that is as versatile as they come. Shaw is a big physical corner with great speed for his size. Both will be vying for the opening starting spot vacated by Joe Haden who decided after just three years on campus to try his efforts in the NFL.

Early enrollment is just another big factor in the success of the Gator program. Players like Tim Tebow, the Pouncey twins, Aaron Hernandez, Joe Haden, and the list goes on and on, are reminders of the early success that these players can have and then flourish in their college careers. That the UF coaching staff doesn't have to continue to recruit these studs, just means they can spend more time on the studs they do have to continue to recruit.


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