The Gators need playmakers on offense in the 2013 cycle. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
The Class of 2012 has been in the books for some time now, and depending on which side of the fence you’re on, you likely feel the Gators fizzled out on Signing Day or finished strong by snagging Dante Fowler from Florida State. Will Muschamp signed a top-five class, but missed on a handful of elite prospects on National Signing Day, including Stefon Diggs, Tracy Howard, Nelson Agholor, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Avery Young.
However, that’s all behind us; the ink has dried, the drama is over. Now, we can all turn our attention to the Class of 2013.
Florida’s 2012 class was defense-heavy, so expect the UF to look for offense in 2013. The Gators will need to sign an elite quarterback and at least four receivers. They already have two running backs committed – Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor – and might look to add a third, change-of-pace type back. Florida also needs to add quality and quantity on the offensive line, after signing only two in 2012.
Let’s take a look at how the big board on offense shapes up.Quarterback: When Charlie Weis was Florida’s offensive coordinator, Brice Ramsey was at the top of the list. Ramsey committed to Georgia, but Weis still made him a priority. With Weis gone, the Gators will still recruit Ramsey, but he’s definitely not the priority.
Cooper Bateman has emerged as a top target. Florida’s current offensive coordinator, Brent Pease, watched Bateman play a few times while he was the offensive coordinator at Boise State and extended an offer to Bateman shortly after being hired at UF. Bateman is an extremely accurate passer, and at 6’3”, 190, has the ideal size for a pocket passer.
Another QB high on Florida’s board is Cody Thomas. Thomas is also a highly rated baseball prospect – MaxPreps ranks him No. 172 nationally – and that could come into play for Florida. Thomas also has offers from the likes of Southern Cal, Notre Dame, LSU and Auburn.
Others on the board: Kohl Stewart, Connor Mitch, Kevin Olsen, Brice Ramsey, Eddie Printz, John O’Korn, Boeing Brown
Running Back: Florida has two solid running backs currently committed in Adam Lane and Kelvin Taylor. Lane missed his junior season with a broken leg, but seems to be regaining his form. He finished with the sixth-best SPARQ Rating at the Orlando Nike Combine early in March. We all know about Kelvin Taylor. Son of former Gator running back Fred Taylor, broke Emmitt Smith’s state rushing record, has his own Android app. Both Lane and Taylor plan on enrolling early.
Florida might try to add a change-of-pace running back to this class. Two Georgia prospects UF will keep an eye on are Alvin Kamara and Josh Mercer. Both are slasher backs and can provide the lightning to Lane and Taylor’s thunder.
Others on the board: Derrick Henry, Christian Green, Greg Bryant, Tarean Folston, Micah Green, Fred Coppet
Wide Receiver: Florida really, really needs to add some star power at receiver. After missing on Nelson Agholor and Stefon Diggs in 2012, UF needs quality and quantity. Stacy Coley and Ahmad Fulwood are 1a and 1b on the big board. Coley doesn’t hide his love for Florida and repeatedly says UF is his top school. Grades might be an issue, but it appears that he’s starting to get things on track.
Fulwood is an interesting case. He seemed all Clemson for a while, then his friend Nick Washington committed to Florida. Fulwood visited UF with Washington and nearly committed. His mom, who wants him to leave the state for college, doesn’t think Florida is a good fit for her son. A lot of times, if you recruit the mom you get the recruit, but that’s not always the case. If Florida gets a commitment from defensive end Demarcus Walker, another one of Fulwood’s good friends, it would shock me if Fulwood didn't end up with the Gators.
Florida has a commitment from one receiver -- Rodney Adams -- and will sign three or four more in the 2013 cycle. Let’s say Coley and Fulwood take up two spots. That would leave Florida with one or two more spots to fill. Who takes those spots? The coaches will probably wait to evaluate the receivers and get a better idea of what they’re working with. There are a lot of receivers getting interest from Florida.
Others on the board: Demarcus Robinson, Taj Williams, Reggie Davis, Alvin Bailey, Richard Benjamin, Carlos Burse
Tight End: Not a whole lot going on at tight end. It’d be ideal for Florida to sign one quality tight end this cycle, but it doesn’t seem there’s a high-rated prospect with too much interest in the Gators. It’s not a big deal, considering Florida signed Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor in 2012. But if something happens and there’s attrition at tight end, Florida will add one in ’13. Until then? I doubt Florida signs one.
Others on the board: DeSean Smith, Hunter Henry, Standish Dobard
Offensive line: Laremy Tunsil. That’s the most important recruit for Florida at any position in the Class of 2013. Rated a top-five national prospect by every major recruiting service, Tunsil spent many practices at Columbia High School protecting his quarterback from current Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. A few reasons why Florida absolutely has to get Tunsil: 1) He’s had Florida as his leader for a while. 2) He plays for Columbia in Lake City, about 45 miles north of Gainesville. 3) If Florida loses another stud from Columbia to a rival school (Tunsil also has interest in Florida State, Georgia and LSU), it won’t be pretty. 4) Offensive line is a huge position of need. Adding Tunsil into the mix with a core of D.J. Humphires and Jessamen Dunker will be a great start in shoring up the line for the next few seasons. 5) Having a stud tackle like Tunsil on board would be alluring for a quarterback.
After Tunsil, the offensive line board is starting to take some shape. The Florida coaches will wait on some players so they can evaluate them more – much like with the receivers – and go from there.
Roderick Johnson is a name that keeps coming up. The 6’6”, 300-pounder has had Florida as his leader for some time and could pop in the near future. Johnson would be an excellent start at this critical position. Florida needs quality and numbers in a bad way after only signing two offensive linemen in 2012.
Others on the board: Joshua Outlaw, Joe Fennell, Hunter Bivin, Tristan Nickelson, Denver Kirkland, Derwin Gray