A.J. Johnson, a 6-3 and 230-pound linebacker from Gainesville (GA), has been on the board for some time now and it's easy to see why. He is very fluid, fast and has nice change or direction for a big guy. Johnson is currently ranked as the nation's 15th best outside linebacker but could easily grown into a defensive end. Johnson was as physically impressive as anyone at the camp.
Angelo Jean-Louis, a 6-0 and 185-pound 2012 wide receiver, was a player that I did not know much about heading into Friday Night Lights but I certainly do now. Jean-Louis from Wellington (FL) Palm Beach Central spent a lot of time with the coaching staff early that Friday and will be one to watch at the wide out position for the 2012 class. He is a very fluid wide receiver and looked very good against high caliber defensive backs all night. Early offers are Florida State, Miami, Ohio State and West Virginia.
"They love my style of play," Jean-Louis said. "I went down there with my girlfriend because my parents were out of town. It was the best visit I have had so far. I spoke to all the coaches and they all love how I have so much love for the game. I now have a new feeling for the Gators and can't wait to return back and maybe commit one day."
Remember this name, Adam Lane. The 2013 superstar running back from Winter Haven (FL) checks in at 5-9 and 200-pounds with sub 4.5 speed. He has great feet and balance and reminds people of a former Florida great running back that wore #22, Emmitt Smith.
"It leaves me speechless when I hear that to tell you the truth but it's very cool. I am just trying to improve my game and keep working hard to improve to be the best that I can be."
It was my first chance to see Lane up close and in person and he did not disappoint. Every team in the country will be after this one before it's all said and done. He likes the Gators and has an older brother that plays tight end for Rutgers. Lane is heading into his sophomore season but is built like a senior.
"It was a really great experience to get to play against those guys. I felt like they were really interested in me and I think they want me at Florida. I really liked that I had a chance to show people what kind of player that I am."
One surprise visitor was 2012 wide receiver Chris Black. The 5-11 and 170-pound playmaker from Jacksonville (FL) First Coast holds early offers from Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and South Carolina.
"I wasn't even aware that I would be going to Friday Night Lights until the day of," Chris Black said. "I was just anxious to get down there. My mom and dad came with me. The experience was great and I got a chance to see a little what it feels like to be a Florida Gators and that feels great. It's just so much speed and intensity. Also, I got a chance to meet Coach Meyer and talk to coach Loeffler and go against some of the country's top defensive backs like Pop Saunders who is a very good corner. Overall, I enjoyed it all and hope to be back again next year."
Another running back looked very good as well, 2011 standout Mike Blakely. The 5-9, 195-pound Blakely is the nation's No. 29 ranked tailback checking in from Bradenton (FL) Manatee. Blakely has a low center of gravity and showed very nice hands throughout the night. Look for either Florida, Auburn or South Carolina to land Blakely at this time.
Clemson commitment Mike Bellamy made an appearance at Friday Night Lights and was able to work out. He did not participate in as many repetitions as other running backs but when he did it's easy to see why the 5-10, 170-pound running back is ranked as the nation's No. 5 best tailback in the land. Bellamy checks in from Punta Gorda (FL) Charlotte. Let's keep an eye on Bellamy to see where he visits once the season starts to get underway.
One player that had everyone buzzing in The Swamp Friday night was tight end prospect Kapelieli Pomee. Pomee, a 6-4 and 232-pound prospect with 4.5 speed is a former teammate of defensive end Ronald Powell. From Moreno Valley (CA) Rancho Verde Pomee put on a show with great hands, speed, route running and machine workout mentality. Pomee checks in as a four star prospect and the Nation's 11th ranked tight end prospect.
"I made the trip with my coach Jo Carmona. Man it felt amazing underneath the lights in The Swamp," Pomee said. "I could just picture all the people in there on game day. I really only talked to two main coaches and they were Brian White and Urban Meyer. It went great for me. I was balling on the field and nobody could guard me so I was happy about that and most of all I am just happy I could put on a show and represent for Cali because I was the only player from Cali."
The nation's No. 6 ranked tight end and current Gator commitment is A.C. Leonard from Jacksonville (FL) University Christian. The 6-3, 230-pound Leonard can do it all. He can break defensive backs down on the line and has tremendous speed and elusiveness. I did not see Leonard drop one ball all night and he had more repetitions than probably anyone at the camp. What many don't know is he wasn't even 100 percent. It's scary to think how good he may have looked had he been completely healthy Friday Night.
It will not surprise me come National Signing Day to see A.C. Leonard with that fifth star by his name because he is that good.
"I came down with my coach Tommy Balom and my cousin/trainer Gerrard Ross. I felt good and it felt like home. Once we stepped on the field I felt like the energizer bunny."
Another offensive standout performance was turned in by current Gator commitment wide receiver Javares McRoy. Many felt he was easily the top wide receiver at the camp and that is hard to argue. The 5-9 and 170-pound speed merchant checks in from Lakeland (FL) Senior and is a four-star prospect. McRoy very well might be the most dangerous player in the country in the open field.
With players like Chris Black and Angelo Jean-Louis at the wide receiver position, it's a tremendous class at the wide out position in 2012. Add another 2012 standout pass catcher to the mix as Latroy Pittman from Citra (FL) North Marion is one to keep a close eye on moving forward. The 6-1 and 185-pound Pittman let the ball get on him a few times but showed great hands, route running and quickness. The sky is the limit for Pittman and should be a lock for top 20 in the state of Florida for next year's class. Pittman made the trip with his mother, father and grandma.
"It felt great under the lights competing against some of the best players in the nation. I talked to coach Meyer and coach Z about where I stand with them and where they stand with me and when I might commit."
Pop Saunders, a 5-11 and 182-pound cornerback, is currently a member of the 2011 recruiting class for the Gators and showed why he is one of the top corners in the state. From DeLand (FL), Saunders has all the physical tools to muscle receivers at the line but also has the speed to turn and run when needed. I was very impressed watching Saunders in man coverage during Friday Night Lights.
"I made the trip with Jojo Kemp, Tevin Gordon, David Taylor and James Ward. While I was under the lights in The Swamp I felt at home and very excited because there was allot of competition there. I talked to Coach Urban, Coach Durkin and Coach Heater and it all went great."
Nick Waisome, 5-10, 175 pounds from Groveland (FL) Southlake, made a statement in my eyes. The nation's No. 9 ranked corner and four-star prospect with 4.44 speed was in the hip pocket of every wide receiver he went against all night long. He is more of a quick type corner vs. physical but will continue to add strength at the next level and when he does look out.
"I made the trip with my brothers and my coaches," Waisome said. "The way I felt under the light's was crazy. I enjoyed it greatly and had a good time. I got a chance to speak with all the coaches and I had a great time speaking to each about how close I am making a decision and just building more on our relationship."
One of the most impressive players I saw regardless of class was defensive end Jordan Jenkins. Jenkins is in that 6-3 and 235-pound range and has a great frame to work with for such a young player (just turned 16 years old). Jenkins is from Hamilton (GA) Harris County and will be one of the most heavily recruited players in the Southeast for next year's class. Early indications that Florida, Georgia Tech and Alabama could be three teams to watch moving forward for Jenkins and his family.
"It was pretty amazing in The Swamp. The music was blaring and it got me hyped up which got me in the zone for my one on one's. I went about eight times and never lost. I talked to coach McCarney and he said I did really good and that I had a good takeoff."
It was the first trip to Gainesville for Jenkins, his mother, father and sister and they felt Florida was a first class program from top to bottom. The Gators landed three from Palm Beach Gardens (FL) William T. Dwyer in the 2010 class and have their sights set for another in 2011.
Curt Maggitt, a 6-3 and 215-pound defensive end, has tremendous upside at the defensive end position. He is currently the nation's No. 19 ranked outside linebacker prospect but once he fills out expect him to slide over to the end position at the next level.
Maggitt appears to want to take some trips and I don't expect him to announce his college destination anytime soon but it would seem that the Gators are the team to beat at this time.
Zeke Pike is one of the many 2012 quarterbacks to keep an eye on for next year. One of the bigger signal callers you will see in the '12 class checking in at 6-5 and 230-pounds. Pike, from Ft. Mitchell (KY) Dixie Heights has a cannon for an arm. More of a straight drop back quarterback Pike will be one of if not the most heavily recruited players on the East Coast.