Johnny Townsend flips to Florida: Gators grab punter, former Ohio State commit

Scott Halleran

Florida's coup de grace in the 2013 recruiting class? One final flip — of punter and Ohio State commit Johnny Townsend.

Florida kind of lost a recruiting battle to Ohio State on National Signing Day, when James Clark announced that he would head to Columbus instead of Gainesville. But the Gators got their revenge on Thursday: Ohio State-committed punter Johnny Townsend has flipped to Florida, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel before being confirmed by Florida.

Townsend, from Orlando's Boone High School — those with keen memories may recall that former Florida basketball recruit Schuyler Rimmer is a Boone senior — is a three-star prospect according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, but he's also the No. 2 punter in the country, and was rumored to be an Alabama target on Wednesday. Instead, he's headed to Florida, where he could be a redshirt freshman in 2014 when Kyle Christy is a senior, and where he should figure in more exceptional special teams play from a program that has committed to making that a fixture.

His commitment and faxed-in Letter of Intent gives Florida 29 signees and 30 commits (Trevon Young is the lone non-signee commit) in the 2013 class, making this group the Gators' largest recruiting class ever. It has signed scholarship prospects at every position save for kicker — and Florida's bringing on Ocala's Danny Krysalka as a walk-on kicker to join two other scholarship kickers.

So, yes, needs have been met.

Townsend is also the first prospect that Florida has gotten to flip from Ohio State since former Florida coach Urban Meyer took over in Columbus, but his flip is less of a middle finger to the Buckeyes and more of a necessity: Ohio State was going to be right up against their scholarship limit thanks to NCAA sanctions, and needed some extra space in its class. It wouldn't surprise me if Meyer made that clear to Townsend and let Will Muschamp know of his availability, but I'm told Ohio State would have taken Townsend and cleared another spot had he wanted to remain in Ohio State's class.

That would make his choosing Florida instead a true flip, and, if the tea leaves are read to show Florida offering Townsend a scholarship just yesterday...

Clay Townsend stressed that Ohio State did not pull his son's scholarship offer, but instead his son had more scholarship offers from which to choose and that caused the delay in his decision.

...it seems that Muschamp did close with a prospect, albeit a punter.

I think I'm also safe in saying WOO TAKE THAT URBIE WE GOT YOUR PUNTER.

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