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Florida Hosts 2011 Friday Night Lights: Gators’ Biggest Recruiting Night Could Lead To Commitments

On Friday, Florida will host what has become one of the biggest and widely-known camps – Friday Night Lights. The camp circuit has grown in recent years and FNL remains at the top of the heap. This year’s edition is no different than those in the past and will feature some of the nation’s best. With between 150-200 expected to attend, you will see stars and some diamonds in the rough. It is also a great opportunity for Florida to add to its commitment list.

The "sure thing" FNL commitment already happened so now it is up to someone else to surprise. Marcus Maye was considered a lock to use tonight’s event to announce he would join the Gators in 2012, but he could wait no longer and announced earlier this week.

One of the prospects at the top of nearly every program’s list that everyone will be watching is Dante Fowler. Although he has been committed to FSU since December of last year, many think he will make the switch to Florida sooner or later. That switch could happen tonight, but then again, that is just one of a handful of rumors we have heard leading up to FNL. Despite his commitment, however, many think Fowler’s recruitment is not over and the Gators are right there with the Seminoles.

Something fans have wanted for quite some time is a commitment from a top wide receiver. While the Gators have had big names in slash-type positions, a true top receiver is always a desire. Enter Stefon Diggs or Avery Johnson. Either would provide Florida with an unbelievable amount of talent at the position, but both could be hard to get. Diggs is looking at a number of programs and Johnson is currently committed to LSU.

The third member of the North Carolina trio – Carlos Watkins – will be in attendance. Watkins names Clemson, Florida and South Carolina as his top three and beyond that has said he, Jonathan Bullard, and Rhaheim Ledbetter would like to play together. Ledbetter committed to the Gators a week ago, adding speculation to Bullard’s and Watkins’s choices. While Watkins says all three could play together, he also says he "knows" Bullard and Ledbetter will ($).

The nation’s top tight end – Kent Taylor – will be in attendance, but I have a hard time seeing him end up in orange and blue. Not because the Gators will not try and not because he may not want to be at Florida, but because of the depth chart. With Colin Thompson committed as part of the 2012 class and A.C. Leonard and Gerald Christian (if you consider him a tight end) coming in the last two years – not to mention Jordan Reed who would be a redshirt junior during Taylor’s first year on campus – it is hard to imagine another tight end picking Florida.

Although the event will be filled with upcoming seniors, you cannot forget about the juniors as well. Two in particular will be talked about for months and even years to come. The first is Derrick Henry who many (including myself) drooled over only a few short weeks ago. He was thought to be a lock for Florida one day despite being part of the 2013 class which seems too far away. Not long after really hitting the national spotlight, he committed to Georgia. That definitely left many scratching their heads, but now the Gators have their turn.

The other to keep an eye on is another Taylor – Kelvin Taylor. The son of Gators great Fred Taylor has a bright future ahead of him and has already been destroying high school defenses. Florida has to be considered the top school for Taylor’s services, but as his recruitment heats up, it will be hard for him to not consider every option. Taylor could easily be one of the top players in the 2013 class and will be number one of the boards of many programs. Expect him to be a priority for the Gators for the next 19 months.

Take it all in because this is one of the best camps there is. Plenty of top prospects will be on hand and all will be looking for their next football stop. There is still plenty of time until signing day and even more for those like Henry and Taylor, but there is also an aura about FNL. The night could bring good news or it could be enough to push a prospect in a certain direction. And if you are not into the recruiting aspect of the game, it does mean we are getting even closer to the start of the season.

(Side note: Nelson Agholor was included in this piece initially. It now appears as if he will not attend.)