Florida/LSU recruiting glance: Defense

A look at how two of the nation's top teams break down on the defensive side of the ball.

Florida/LSU recruiting glance: Offense

Defensive End

1st Team

LSU: Sam Montgomery (4-star, No. 7 DE, 2009), Ken Adams (3-star, JC TE, 2010)

Florida: Sharrif Floyd (5-star, No. 1 DT, 2010), Ronald Powell (5-star, No. 1 DE, 2010)

2nd Team

LSU: Barkevious Mingo (4-star, No. 6 SLB, 2009), Lavar Edwards (3-star, No. 23 TE, 2008)

FLORIDA: William Green (4-star, No. 7 SLB, 2008), Kedric Johnson (3-star, No. 72 DE, 2009)


Sharrif Floyd's signature was a big one for the Gators

Note: This is where it really starts getting good for the Gators. With 28 commitments in 2010, Florida finished with the No. 1 class in the nation – thanks in large part to commitments from Pennsylvania’s Floyd and California’s Powell, both five-stars and the No. 1 players at their positions.

LSU had its out of state success the year prior. With South Carolina native Sam Montgomery down to LSU and a handful of East Coast schools, a late-night phone conversation between Miles and Montgomery’s mother helped the Tigers seal another out-of-state commitment into a 2009 class that already had Georgia’s Kevin Minter and Texas tandem Russell Shepard and Craig Loston.


Defensive Tackle

1st Team

LSU: Michael Brockers (4-star, No. 16 DE, 2009), Bennie Logan (3-star, No. 65 DE, 2009)

FLORIDA: Jay Howard (3-star, No. 38 DE, 2007), Dominique Easley (5-star, No. 2 DT, 2010)

2nd Team

LSU: Josh Downs (4-star, No. 9 DT, 2009), Anthony Johnson (5-star, No. 1 DT, 2011)

FLORIDA: Omar Hunter (5-star, No. 2 DT, 2008), Leon Orr (4-star, No. 28 DT, 2010)

Note: Florida’s memorable 2010 class was strengthened on the interior by Easley, a five-star prospect out of Staten Island, N.Y., who went back-and-forth with his commitment to Penn State before eventually settling on the Gators – though many expected him to announce for Oregon. Easley went public with his pledge at the Under Armour All-American game in Orlando, the same day five-star wide receiver Chris Dunkley announced for the Gators.

LSU secured Brockers and Logan in 2009 with the idea of moving the high school defensive ends inside to tackle, where both have turned into starters. The future belongs to Johnson, a five-star and the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle last year. The New Orleans native had offers from nearly every school in the country, but settled on LSU after running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Frank Wilson, also a New Orleans native, left the Tennessee staff to fill his current post in Baton Rouge.


Weakside Linebacker

1st Team

LSU: Ryan Baker (4-star, No. 7 MLB, 2008)

FLORIDA: Jelani Jenkins (5-star, No. 1 WLB, 2009)

2nd Team

LSU: Lamin Barrow (3-star, No. 20 SLB, 2009)

FLORIDA: Dee Finley (4-star, No. 5 S, 2008)

Note: Baker always has fun during Florida game week, and it’s easy to see why. The Blountstown, Fla., native’s mother, Lynn Baker, is a Florida graduate and diehard Gators fan. His father, Terry Baker, is a Florida State graduate. Baker committed after a summer visit in 2007, but Florida and Florida State still pressed for a switch. On his official visit the following January, Baker spent time with future NFL stars LaRon Landry and Glenn Dorsey, which helped keep the four-star committed to the Tigers through signing day.

LSU fans are just as familiar with Florida starter Jelani Jenkins, the Olney, Md., native who held over 40 offers and kept the Tigers around until his final decision. With a focus on playing early and prepping for medical school, Jenkins took his decision to the end before he signed with the Gators.


Middle Linebacker

1st Team

LSU: Karnell Hatcher (4-star, No. 16 S, 2008)

FLORIDA: Jon Bostic (4-star, No. 3 WLB, 2009)

2nd Team

LSU: Kevin Minter (4-star, No. 4 MLB, 2009)

FLORIDA: Michael Taylor (3-star, No. 10 MLB, 2010)


Kevin Minter gave LSU the nation's No. 4 MLB prospect

Note: A Delray Beach, Fla., native, Hatcher saw the in-state schools quiet on him during his senior season, leaving South Florida as the lone program to put the press on come January before signing day. The departure of LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini to Nebraska left Hatcher questioning his decision, but he stayed on board when Miles told Hatcher that he was staying put in Baton Rouge for the long haul. His backup, Minter, was an even bigger coup for the staff. Ranked as the No. 4 middle linebacker in the nation, Minter was the next Georgia linebacker to choose LSU after Stone Mountain duo Kelvin Sheppard and Perry Riley jumped on board in 2006.

The recruitment of Bostic came down to Florida, LSU and Miami, and Bostic visited Death Valley before making a 2008 trip to The Swamp to see the Gators host the Tigers. Bostic later said that a visit to Friday Night Lights with close friend Chris Dunkley sealed the deal for the Gators, and the Palm Beach Central High standout announced his decision at U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January 2009. His backup, Taylor, an Atlanta native, was once high on LSU and tried to commit, but later backed away and pledged to Tennessee. A month short of signing day, Taylor and his mother made a trip to Gainesville, and before he left Meyer’s office, Taylor switched his decision for a final time.


Strongside Linebacker

1st Team

LSU: Stefoin Francois (4-star, No. 8 S, 2007)

FLORIDA: Lerentee McCray (4-star, No. 11 WLB, 2008)

2nd Team

LSU: Tahj Jones (3-star, No. 19 WLB, 2009)

FLORIDA: Gideon Ajagbe (3-star, No. 26 OLB, 2010)

Note: McCray, a self-proclaimed lifelong Miami fan, visited LSU in late 2007 amidst swirling rumors that Miles was headed to Michigan. McCray said that Miles gave him his word that he would remain the head coach at LSU, and a few weeks later Miles went public with the same statement. But after double-digit visits to Gainesville over the course of his recruitment, Meyer turned up the heat near signing day, and on Jan. 16, 2008, McCray announced that he had been a silent verbal to the Gators for weeks.

LSU stayed at home for both Francois and Jones, but it wasn’t easy keeping both prospects in the Bayou State. Francois visited Florida State the weekend before signing day and rated the visit a 10. But the following Wednesday, he faxed his letter of intent to Baton Rouge.




1st Team

LSU: Mo Claiborne (3-star, No. 90 WR, 2009), Tharold Simon (4-star, No. 13 CB, 2010)

FLORIDA: Marcus Roberson (4-star, No. 4 S, 2011), Cody Riggs (4-star, No. 9 CB, 2010)

2nd Team

LSU: Tyrann Mathieu (3-star, No. 31 CB, 2010), Ron Brooks (4-star, No. 6 WR, 2007)

FLORIDA: Moses Jenkins (3-star, No. 54 CB, 2007), Jaylen Watkins (4-star, No. 5 CB, 2010)

Note: Between Claiborne and Mathieu, LSU found a few gems in the 2009 and 2010 classes. Claiborne’s biggest offers were from Nebraska and Texas A&M, but the Shreveport native settled on the Tigers because of connections to former LSU athletes Ronnie Prude and Stromile Swift. When Mathieu committed to the Tigers, his biggest offer outside of LSU was Tennessee. The others read Southern Miss, SMU, Tulane, and Florida International.

For Florida, there was some sweating for Roberson – the nation’s No. 4-ranked safety. The Fort Lauderdale native first committed to Texas Tech on Jan. 18, then Auburn on Jan. 31. A couple of days later, Roberson went public with a commitment to the Gators.



1st Team

LSU: Brandon Taylor (4-star, No. 17 CB, 2008), Eric Reid (4-star, No. 4 S, 2010)

FLORIDA: Matt Elam (5-star, No. 2 S, 2010), Pop Saunders (3-star, No. 37 CB, 2011)

2nd Team

LSU: Craig Loston (5-star, No. 1 S, 2009), Sam Gibson (3-star, No. 40 S, 2010)

FLORIDA: Joshua Shaw (4-star, No. 7 S, 2010), Josh Evans (3-star, No. 21 S, 2009)


Josh Shaw took a look at LSU and Florida, but favored the Gators throughout

Note: Reid and Loston were the most hyped safety prospects to come into LSU since Chad Jones signed in 2007. Despite once being committed to Clemson, Loston, a five-star prospect out of Houston, followed cousin Russell Shepard to Baton Rouge.

The same season that LSU secured a local boy in Reid, getting into Dwyer and landing Elam was just paramount for the Gators. The darkest days came when Elam committed to Florida State on Dec. 31, giving the Gators only a month to flip the state’s top-ranked prospect back to the Florida side. Despite Meyer’s departure, the Gators won out in the end, bringing Elam back into a 2010 class that finished at the top of Scout.com’s team rankings.


Additional notes: This is when Will Muschamp runs Florida out of the 4-3. When they go to a 3-4, Ronald Powell slides out to the BUCK linebacker position as a stand-up pass rusher who moves all over the field. In the 3-4, Floyd and Easley play the edge with Howard at defensive tackle.

LSU will spend a majority of the game in nickel, where an extra defensive back – Mathieu – will substitute in for Francois. Hatcher will also work in a rotation with Minter at middle linebacker.

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