Just under two weeks remain until National Signing Day 2014, and Florida is poised to reel in a class that far outstrips its performance on the field in 2013, thanks to Will Muschamp's success in identifying and securing Florida's quarterback of the future, the appeal of playing defense for Florida, and his ability to flip prospects late in their recruitments.
But there's still a little more to be done, too, and Florida might land a few more commitments in the sprint to February 5. Here's an exhaustive rundown of the players the Gators have in hand, and the ones they're still pursuing.
QB Will Grier
You know plenty about Grier at this point, so I won't belabor the point here: Grier was the keystone of this class from the moment he committed, and, though his fellow five-star offensive commits have left the flock, has never not been the most important recruit of this 2014 class. Grier is poised to redshirt and/or serve as Florida's backup quarterback in 2014 and prepare for a starting role as soon as 2015, though his health and Jeff Driskel's lack of it might make for a quarterback "controversy" in the spring and his hype might prompt calls for him if Driskel struggles in the fall.
QB/ATH Deiondre Porter
Florida secured Porter's commitment on Monday, completing a flip from USF that took less than a week. Porter's unlikely to play quarterback at Florida with Driskel and Grier in front of him in the pipeline, but his versatility and athleticism could find him a home at either wide receiver or cornerback.
QB/ATH Treon Harris
Harris is the son of Booker T. Washington head coach Tim "Ice" Harris, and the brother of former Miami defensive back Tim Harris Jr., but, more importantly, he's a more mobile quarterback than Grier, and would be an interesting complement to Grier if Kurt Roper wants to continue using multiple quarterbacks, as he did at Duke. Harris officially visited Florida last weekend, and came away pleased; though he's Commits to Florida State, he says he'll make a final decision in February.
Florida's biggest issue at quarterback is depth, with the departures of Tyler Murphy and Max Staver since the end of the 2013 season leaving the Gators with only Driskel, Grier, and Skyler Mornhinweg as scholarship quarterbacks. (Walk-ons Jacob Guy and Chris Wilkes are still listed on Florida's roster, but neither seems likely to provide depth in the near future.)
While Driskel and Grier clearly both have excellent talent, adding Harris would give Florida more insurance at quarterback, and make it easier for the Gators to focus on one quarterback in the 2015 class; Harris is also a versatile enough player that accepting his commitment would hopefully not produce scenarios similar to the John Brantley-Cam Newton and Driskel-Jacoby Brissett battles that cost Florida quarterback depth in the past. Porter is probably going to end up at a position other than quarterback, and he would clearly be behind Grier in the pecking order, so there are no similar concerns with him.
RB/ATH Brandon Powell
Florida swooped in and snagged Powell, who was set to be an early enrollee at Miami, just hours before the final day of UF's Drop/Add period. A speedy back from Deerfield Beach, Powell can't replace or compare to Dalvin Cook on pure talent, but they're similar players, and Florida did well to steal an in-state recruit from a rival at the 11th hour.
Florida's only running back commitment prior to Powell was Cook, also an early enrollee. When Cook flipped to Florida State, he reopened Florida's class at the position.
RB Jeff Jones?
RB Derrell Scott
RB Darrell Williams?
Florida looked into Jones, a bruising back from Minnesota and current Minnesota commit, while he was starring at Under Armour All-America Game practices, but it appears Jones has slipped off Florida's board. Grades may be an issue for him, but Michigan is also interested, and Ann Arbor's a lot closer to Minnesota than Gainesville.
Scott is another quicker back, closer to the Cook/Powell mold, but is thought of as a South Carolina-Tennessee battle, with the Vols holding an edge of late. It would be a surprise if Scott ends up in this class.
Williams is another hard-running big back, and is an LSU commit from Louisiana, so he was always likely to be a difficult pull, but Florida's plans to host him on a visit appear to have fallen through. He's a "target" if he's anything.
Florida's got the starter it needs at running back in Kelvin Taylor, and can pair him with Matt Jones if he's healthy, but Cook's flip really hurt Florida's chances of getting a game-breaker in the backfield. Powell could be that player down the road, but Cook would probably have been that player in 2014. Here, Florida must develop the players it has, and hope to land one of a few big-time in-state running backs in 2015.
Florida was never really after an early enrollee wide receiver in this class.
WR Ryan Sousa
WR/TE Moral Stephens
Sousa flipped from Florida State in November, and looks like a possession slot receiver that could come in handy in a more open passing offense. He's been very, very productive for Lake Nona in his career.
Stephens is a big, physical wide receiver who has the potential to grow into a tight end, and might actually be more accurately listed there. He's a little slower than I'd like a wide receiver to be, but Florida could use a mauler at wide receiver who can box out defensive backs for goal-line fades.
WR/CB/ATH Adoree' Jackson
WR Eric Lauderdale (JUCO)
WR/ATH Isaiah McKenzie
WR Travis Rudolph?
WR C.J. Worton
Jackson would be the most exciting offensive recruit for Florida in the 2014 class. He's a potential world-class track athlete — and is interested in the long jump, which dovetails with Florida a) employing Mike Holloway, who coached the 2012 U.S. track team and b) producing long jumper Will Claye, who won bronze in the event in London — but he's also a burner wherever he's put on the football field, whether that's receiver, corner, or returner. Jackson's been high on Florida in the past, but he's yet to take an official visit to Gainesville, and has one remaining. If he does trek to the 352, I'll feel pretty confident about Florida's chances; if not, I think the Gators are going to end up just missing on Jackson, who is being hotly pursued by a half-dozen schools, most notably Tennessee and USC.
Lauderdale is a JUCO wide receiver who was previously committed to Tennessee, and has looked like a Florida lean for the lion's share of the time since his decommitment. But a recent visit to Arizona State may have helped sway Lauderdale — and it's possible that Florida is looking to save its spots at wide receiver for players who will have more years to play than Lauderdale.
McKenzie is a project at wide receiver, but a playmaker as a returner. Nicknamed "Joystick," he spent 2014 eluding tacklers in space.
McKenzie is likely a Notre Dame-Florida battle, but Florida has home-state advantage, and was the first of the Sunshine State's Big Three to come calling, so the Gators have a strong chance with him.
It's not clear if Rudolph is a legitimate target for Florida — he's one of Florida State's most prized commitments — but he had interest in the Gators after his decommitment from Miami in early 2013, and Bud Elliott's heard the same whispers I have.
Florida #Gators trying to get back in with #Noles commit @TravisRudolph5? Oh the crazy season of recruiting. Let's see if he visits.— TomahawkNation.com (@TomahawkNation) January 21, 2014
Worton is another current Florida State commit — the theory behind FSU wide receiver commits being poachable is that Rudolph and Ermon Lane, who is expected to commit to FSU, would push out less highly-regarded players — and the brother of J.J. Worton, who starred for UCF in 2013, memorably making an acrobatic game-tying touchdown catch for the Knights against Temple. And the younger Worton has been sniffing around for a while; if Florida's his best offer other than FSU, and he feels squeezed out by FSU, he may make a flip.
Florida's chance at an immediate game-changer at wide receiver likely went out the door when Cook flipped, as his friend Ermon Lane, who was widely expected to follow shortly after, eventually did. I'm not sure I buy Florida having a legitimate chance with Rudolph, who is by far the most college-ready player of the bunch discussed here, especially given his Thursday affirmation of his commitment to ESPN's Derek Tyson, so this class looks more like it will provide depth behind the talented 2013 class that featured Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson, with contributions coming years down the road after players develop.
TE DeAndre Goolsby
Goolsby is a pass-catching tight end, something Florida sorely lacked in 2013, and his early enrollment gives him a chance to bulk up and potentially see the field in the fall.
TE C'yontai Lewis
You may remember C'yontai Lewis from his commitment (and its potential ramifications for Bo Scarbrough) or his vicious block on a player during a game this fall. He appears to be set to come to Florida in the summer.
Florida's really not in it for any other tight ends, as far as we know.
In Goolsby and Lewis, Florida reloads a bit at tight end, but neither player looks like a surefire star at the position. Then again, Florida recruited two players that did look like surefire stars two years ago, in Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson, but Taylor has transferred after doing very little to get on the field and Thompson has been beset by injuries throughout his Florida career. Florida doesn't need a star at tight end as much as it merely needs an outlet.
OT/DE Taven Bryan
OT Kavaris Harkless
OG Nolan Kelleher
OT Drew Sarvary (JUCO)
Harkless flipped from Louisville to Florida earlier this month after Charlie Strong left for Texas, and is a Florida boy, hailing from Jacksonville. His highlights are so old that they're set to a song off Drake's 2012 album, but he's got a big body, and won't be expected to contribute for a while.
Kelleher is a mauler of an offensive guard, and his highlights are about as impressive as an interior lineman's can be. He's mobile, physical, and plants people repeatedly. Look for him to factor into Florida's line as early as 2015.
Sarvary was a solid lineman at a Texas junior college, earning all-conference honors for his play. With the departure of graduate transfer Ian Silberman, Sarvary, with his college experience, could be a plug-and-play player or a key reserve.
OG Travaris Dorsey
OT David Sharpe
Dorsey is the longest-standing Florida commit in this class other than Grier — and only Grier and Travonte Valentine committed before he did — and could provide depth up front down the road.
Sharpe is currently the crown jewel of this offensive line class. He has the frame and athleticism to be a star at offensive tackle for years to come, and though he's probably going to need some more seasoning and coaching to make an impact, and is blocked at the position, the future for him is very, very bright.
Dontae Angus, who committed to Florida last summer, is unlikely to qualify at Florida after an uphill battle in the classroom, and has been quietly removed from most sites' commitment lists without a public decommitment.
OT Yodny Cajuste
OT Andrew Mike
OT Damian Prince
Cajuste is a project player who might get squeezed out of a spot if higher-profile targets commit, but he's got the profile you want in a project tackle: Big, lean, and new to football.
Mike is an Arizona tackle with an official visit to Florida on the docket, but it will be hard to get a read on where he's heading until that visit's concluded. I think Florida's got a decent shot at him.
Prince would be just as big a get as Sharpe, as he's another offensive tackle with the size and feet to be a great player down the line. Florida's main competition for Prince appears to be Maryland, a troubling prospect for any big-time D.C.-area player as long as Mike Locksley is at Maryland, but the Gators will get Prince's final official visit just days before National Signing Day, and that makes Florida's chances of landing Prince better than faint.
After taking thin classes of offensive linemen in 2011 and 2012, Florida is rebuilding depth up front, and a class with six or seven players in it would be a long stride toward having the numbers necessary to survive even the catastrophic injuries Florida dealt with in 2013. Sharpe and Kelleher seem like the best bets to play as freshmen, but neither has a great shot to do so, and every line position is developmental, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.
DE/OT Taven Bryan
Bryan is a jumbo athlete, and was probably the best football player in the sparsely-populated state of Wyoming, which makes evaluating him very difficult. He'll begin his Florida career at defensive end, but he's raw clay at this point — it wouldn't be a shock to see him end up at defensive end, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him end up at a tackle position on offense.
Gerald Willis was potentially an early enrollee, but had to delay his enrollment until the summer.
DT Khairi Clark
DT Thomas Holley
DE/BUCK Justus Reed
DE/DT Gerald Willis
Clark is a space-eating defensive tackle who has been in Florida's class for a long, long time, and has a little Sharrif Floyd to his game. He's been in Florida's class for so long, in fact, that it's likely that fans have forgotten that he was once looked at as a huge get for the Gators; he still is, too, but has been joined by two other high-profile linemen.
One of them is Holley, who flipped to Florida from Penn State last week, and oozes potential. As a career basketball player who is still new to football, he possesses the athleticism to develop into a Dominique Easley-esque player, and his flip has been seen as one of the most consquential developments of the young year on the recruiting trail.
Reed pledged to Florida in July 2013, and is seen as a developmental edge rusher. It's unlikely that he'll see the field in 2014 with a slew of older pass-rushers ahead of him, but with none of those players but Dante Fowler Jr. really distinguishing themselves to this point, Reed could surprise with a strong fall camp.
Willis picked Florida at the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Game, stunning many who thought the Louisiana prospect, whose mother is the mother of Landon Collins, was an LSU lock. He's a big, strong defensive end who could grow into a defensive tackle, and would definitely have factored into the mix this fall if he had been able to enroll early. Despite missing out on the spring, Willis will have every opportunity to earn snaps in fall camp.
DE/BUCK Lorenzo Carter
DE Rocel McWilliams
Carter is one of the nation's premier pass rushers in the class of 2014, and he's named Florida his leader and taken an official visit to Gainesville. But both of those events were months ago, and prior to Florida's 4-8 season; while the Gators still have a shot with Carter, it seems like Georgia will be able to keep one of the Peach State's best prospects at home.
McWilliams was a surprise official visitor last weekend, and is Commits to Missouri, but he's from West Florida High School of Advanced Technology in Pensacola, making distance from home a decent pitch, and he displays significant closing speed on tape.
Florida's pretty much set on the defensive line, with one more pass-rushing defensive end being the obvious play for the Gators. Carter would be the ideal fit for that role, but McWilliams seems like a decent fallback plan to me, and Florida really needs a pass-rusher less in 2014 than it does in 2015.
Yes, you read all of those right.
Florida took four linebackers in 2014, and all of them have potential (Alex Anzalone, Daniel McMillian, Matt Rolin) or have made a mark already (Jarrad Davis). But those players are still likely to be backups in 2014, with Neiron Ball, Antonio Morrison, and Michael Taylor all still on Florida's roster, so linebacker was a position where Florida could afford to be selective in 2014. And after Kain Daub, Clifton Garrett, Jacob Pugh, and Raekwon McMillan opted to go elsewhere, and Christian Miller decommitted from Florida in May 2013, Florida has declined to pursue other linebackers, opting to wait for 2015's loaded in-state crop and hope to cherry-pick.
CB Duke Dawson
CB Jalen Tabor
Dawson would be most fans' favorite player in the 2014 class if Grier and Quincy Wilson didn't exist or if anyone remembered that Dawson committed to Florida by trolling FSU. Dawson's not quite the prototype for an outside corner, as he's a bit under six feet, but he could be a dynamite nickel back, and that's likely where he'll start his career at Florida.
If Holley's flip wasn't the biggest one of January, Tabor's probably was: He was Arizona's finest recruit in a long while before changing his mind and settling on the Gators, and he's both a Joe Haden fan and a Joe Haden dopplegänger. There's playing time available opposite Vernon Hargreaves III, and Tabor's got a great shot to lock that position down.
CB/WR J.C. Jackson
CB/S Quincy Wilson
Jackson is a dynamic receiver/defensive back hybrid, and could play either position for Florida. He also was and is seen as a potential candidate to decommit, with Florida State and Miami both putting the heat on him after Florida's 2013 season, but he spent last weekend on his official visit to Florida, and loved it, so there's some renewed confidence on keeping him as of now. But a potential visit to FSU still looms.
Wilson, on the other hand, is as publicly solid to Florida as any non-enrolled commit. He's spent the better part of the last month repeatedly rolling his eyes at Cook and Lane on Twitter, and certainly doesn't lack for confidence — a key component to successful defensive back play. Wilson could end up at corner or safety, depending on how the rest of the secondary shakes out, but he's got the misfortune of enrolling in the summer; Dawson and Tabor might establish themselves in the spring.
Florida's probably set at defensive back, especially if Jackson sticks, but Jackson visiting Florida State might set dominoes in motion.
If Tabor can lock down the spot opposite Hargreaves, Florida will have the consensus best high school cornerback in the nation in 2013 on one side of the field and arguably the best corner in the nation in 2014 on the other side of the field — an almost unfair reloading of a secondary after losing stalwarts Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, and Jaylen Watkins. Also, it's worth remembering that while Florida lost those three guys, all set to be NFL players in 2014, there are a lot of talented secondary players enrolled at Florida, and that Will Muschamp's never really had a problem coaching up defensive backs. Great talents are almost just icing on the cake.
Florida's got a lot of talent coming to Gainesville in 2014, especially on the defensive line and in the secondary, and, in the cases of Grier and Tabor, some of that elite talent is already on campus. While the decommitments of Cook and Lane likely ruined Florida's chances of having a top-five class, this bunch is set to be a top-10 class, despite being recruited during and in the wake of Florida's worst season of their lifetimes.
Florida's immediate future depends more on what Muschamp and his staff can do to develop the players on campus than what they can get out of players yet to arrive, and not even the recruits who enrolled early are likely to make significant plays this season, save for Tabor. But if Muschamp survives 2014, he'll have built a fantastic foundation — and if he doesn't, Florida's next coach will still be able to build from that same foundation.
There's going to be a lot more recruiting stuff in the next month or so, but feel free to ask whatever questions you may have or make suggestions for future coverage in the comments.