New and notes from the week in Florida recruiting.
-- Florida had seven commits and plenty of targets at Nike's 'The Opening' in Beaverton, Ore. The event was held at Nike's headquarters July 5-8. The players participated in a 7-on-7 tournament, the SPARQ combine and were coached and mentored by players such as Joe Haden, the Pounceys and Ndamukong Suh. In addition to competing against some of the nation's top prospects, it was also an opportunity for committed prospects to target players who haven't announced their college decisions.
More after the jump.
-- Of Florida's seven commits at 'The Opening' Ahmad Fulwood and Keanu Neal were the most impressive. Fulwood is no stranger to national attention, being considered one of the top receivers in the country for a while now. Neal, on the other hand, has been an up-and-comer on the national stage, and his performance last week certainly impressed. Neal turned in a 4.59-second forty, which is pretty impressive considering most the forty times at the event were a little on the slower side. His team also won the 7-on-7 tournament.
-- Caleb Brantley, Quinton Powell, Nick Washington, Tre Bell and Kelvin Taylor were the other five commits who participated. Brantley rekindled his rivalry with FSU commit Ira Denson ($). There was a bunch of smack talk between the two leading up to the event. It may have taken Bell some time to adjust to the level of competition. He's small at 5'11", 165 -- not necessarily the prototypical Muschamp corner -- and he certainly had his ups and downs at the event.
-- Florida safety target Marcell Harris had one of the more impressive showings. He was all over the field making interceptions and making things difficult on quarterbacks, including five-star USC quarterback commit Max Browne. There's a chance Harris could eventually grow into a linebacker -- he's 6'1", 210 now -- but I like him fine at safety. I expect an announcement from Harris sometime near the end of the summer and the beginning of fall. Texas is Florida's main competition, but I feel confident in saying he's most likely picking UF.
-- Vernon Hargreaves III attended 'The Opening' but an ankle injury forced him to miss most of the action. Late last night, he tweeted that USC is his leader.
He's currently on USC's campus for a visit (he visited Oregon earlier this week), so it could be a caught-up-in-the-moment type of thing. He won't announce till close to National Signing Day, so naming a leader right now doesn't mean a whole lot. Still, USC is a major threat to nab VHIII away from the home-state Gators. And now I'm getting painful flashbacks to the last week of Nelson Agholor's recruitment.
And then there's this, so...
@VHargreaves24 always man.. And if this is the place for you, I'll be here holding you down— Nelson Agholor (@NelsonAgh3) July 12, 2012
-- Another Florida target, defensive end Ebenezer Ogundeko, was at 'The Opening'. He didn't have the best performance, but he's a viable option at defensive end with guys like Elijah Daniel and Joey Bosa off the board and DeMarcus Walker possibly picking Alabama. Ogundeko was one of the prospects being recruited by the Florida commits in Oregon. He'll visit Syracuse July 16 and will choose from Florida, Notre Dame and Syracuse on July 24.
-- Not really Florida recruiting related, but it is recruiting related. Addicted To Quack, SB Nation's Oregon Ducks blog, has a post wondering why people enjoy following recruiting so much. So here's why I enjoy it.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football programs. The powerful what-ifs that can be based off one recruit's decision -- What if Tim Tebow picked Alabama over Florida? I like following the drama as it unfolds, not hearing about it years down the road. I enjoy reading crazy stories about last-minute visits or changes of plans that ended up altering college football. The Pounceys leaving a FSU visit and stopping by UF on their way home and committing to Florida all in the same day, for example. Which would have meant Chris Rainey to FSU, too, by the way.
Recruiting offers year-round competition off the gridiron. Florida and Florida State fans can go back and forth about who's going to land Kelvin Benjamin. Auburn and Alabama fans can go at it over who's going to land T.J. Yeldon. And on National Signing Day, someone's going to have the top recruiting class in the country. Bragging rights. It keeps the dialogue going year round.
Recruiting is important. Following recruiting isn't, but I enjoy it. It's certainly not for everyone. It's a hobby, obviously, so not all college football fans have to keep up with it. I choose to because I find it compelling and entertaining.