We’re almost at that time of year when the Florida Gators sports cease to be. The "major" ones have come and gone and the remaining few will close up shop as we reach the summer. At that point, most of our discussions will revolve around recruiting, upcoming seasons,
arrests, and possibly history. So it's high time to start discussing Florida's football recruiting.
Florida got off to a furious start when it comes to recruiting and has picked up verbal commitments from some top prospects both instate and across the Florida-Georgia border. It’s extremely hard to predict how many of these current commits will end up wearing the orange and blue one day. Tougher considering even early enrollment is more than half a year away. But look at the bright side – the bigger your commitment list now, they higher number you’ll hold on to (we hope).
Here’s a look at those prospects currently committed to play football for the Florida Gators:
Willie Bailey – DB – 6’1", 165 – Hallandale (Hallandale, FL) – The "stolen" prospect, Florida picked up Bailey after he dropped his previous commitment to Miami (cheer loudly Gator fans). Bailey is also a track star and likes the idea of playing football and competing on the track at Florida. He’s a tall cornerback – which Will Muschamp loves – but needs to add some weight before he gets on the field in a season or two. Bailey’s speed and height could make him extremely dangerous in the SEC. With so much time left in the current recruiting process, don’t expect Miami to give up on Bailey. The Gators may have the inside track to remain in the lead though – Bailey went to high school with Frankie Hammond Jr. and the two are very close.
Mike Davis – RB – 5’9", 192 – Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA) – Florida picked up commitments from two running backs in a five-day span in February and both seemed to welcome the idea of playing together. Davis is the smaller of the two (Rivals.com lists him at 5’9", but mentions he is 5’11" in a separate article), but still has the size to be a power back when needed. Davis has split carries during his high school career, but that may not be a problem with Matt Jones (more below) also a part of this class. He’s a strong running who tends to fall forward a lot and can also be dangerous catching passes out of the backfield.
Jessamen Dunker – OL – 6’6", 315 – Boynton Beach (Boynton Beach, FL) – You should never complain about getting a commit from an offensive lineman. Any offensive lineman. You should definitely never complain when he’s 6’6", 315 heading into his senior year. Dunker has the chance to be enormous by the time he sees the field regularly as a Gator. With durability such an issue at the tackle spots over the past few seasons, adding players like Dunker is critical. Not only is Dunker big, he possesses excellent agility and footwork, which gives him the potential to be great one day.
Matt Jones – RB – 6’2", 200 – Armwood (Seffner, FL) – Jones might be the star of the class so far and has the potential to be one of the higher-rated recruits when the 2012 cycle is all said and done. He’s a big back, which is something Gator fans have been screaming for over the last few years. The last one Florida really had was fan-favorite Ciatrick Fason. Jones is a power back who is typically described as a downhill runner. He has solid speed and great field vision which should help him develop into a complete back over time. There are some that believe he has the potential to be better at the college level than he has been in high school.
JaFar Mann – DT – 6’4", 275 – Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA) – Stephenson has plenty of talent lined up for the 2011 season and Mann and Davis will be working hard to bring some of their friends to Gainesville with them. One of three currently committed defensive tackles, Mann is being pursued heavily by Georgia (who his family just happens to be die-hard fans of). This one could come right down to National Signing Day as the Dawgs won’t give up. They’ve even gone as far as to offer Mann the chance to play pretty much anywhere he likes across the defensive line.
Dante Phillips – DT – 6’6", 268 – Venice (Venice, FL) – Phillips is a prospect at both defensive line and offensive line. While he’d prefer to play on the defensive side of the ball, he could be one of those players switched between both over the course of his career. Matt Patchan and Mike Pouncey come to mind, although Phillips isn’t necessarily on their level when it comes to recruiting rankings. Phillips has good size already and never gives up on plays. He could become a fan favorite due to his always running motor.
Latroy Pittman – WR – 6’1", 190 – North Marion (Citra, FL) – If it seems like Pittman has been committed forever, it’s because he pretty much has. Pittman verbally committed to Florida back in August of 2010 – before last season and before the coaching change. As of this moment, he is still a Gator, but plenty of schools are pursuing him. While some analysts don’t believe he’ll drop Florida, Pittman has mentioned he’ll take all of his visits. Pittman brings something to the table many high school wide receivers don’t: he’s an excellent route runner. He has great hands and seems to glide on the football field. He’s not the fastest player on the field, but his overall knowledge of his position makes him a top prospect.
Jeremi Powell – LB – 6’2", 200 – Pinellas Park (Largo, FL) – Year after year, Florida seems to pick up good prospects at linebacker. Year after year, some produce and others seem to fade away (or transfer). Powell is one the Gators will want to hang on to. He has the potential to develop into a prototypical linebacker, but is also so athletic that he could be used to rush the passer in certain situations. He might just be made for the new "Buck" position. You’ll hear about his wingspan over and over again and how it could be an asset to him at whatever position he ends up. Powell is currently considered one of the top recruits from the Tampa Bay area, which is never a bad thing.
Quinteze Williams – DT – 6’4", 295 – Sandy Creek (Tyrone, GA) – The largest of the three defensive tackle commits, Williams figures to be a hole plugger. Williams soured on Georgia early after Mark Richt told him he wanted Williams to be part of his "2012 Dream Team." The problem with that? Williams had already received other offers and didn’t understand why it took Georgia so long if Richt was claiming he was high on their list. Although listed as a defensive tackle, Williams mentions defensive end a lot. Say it with me…"he could end up being on BIG defensive end."
I can't include Nelson Agholor on this list (yet?), but I'll go ahead and apologize ahead of time if I mention him a little too often. No disrespect to former Gator Jim Barrie, but never has a prospect from my tiny high school received this much attention. And rightfully so.