Florida Gators: Boise State Broncos

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When it comes to running backs, the state of Texas is loaded. Ten running backs represent the Lone Star State in the ESPN 300. Of those 10, five are committed. A total of seven running backs in the state have reported FBS commitments.

ESPN 300 RBs from the state:

No. 50 Ronald Jones II: Ranked the nation’s No. 3 running back, Jones is an explosive, game-changing back who -- as scary as it might sound -- will only get better. Jones committed to Oklahoma State on April 6 and finished his junior season with more than 2,400 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns.

videoThe Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Florida pulled off a trifecta Monday that established Travaris Robinson as a leading candidate for recruiter of the year, Baylor landing K.D. Cannon is not a small thing, and who has the respect of recruiters in the Mountain West.

Big Monday for Gators


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp has decided to go with a special teams coordinator after all.

Muschamp announced the hiring of UTEP defensive coordinator Jeff Choate on Wednesday morning as the Gators’ special teams coordinator and outside linebackers coach. He replaces Bryant Young, who resigned last week for personal reasons.

"He is a high-energy coach, an outstanding recruiter and evaluator, and has a reputation as one of the top special-teams coaches in the nation," Muschamp said in a statement. "He sees the big picture and will be a great addition to our staff.

"I got to know Jeff several years ago when I as at Texas and he was at Boise State. He visited Austin and we spent a lot of time talking defensive and special teams schemes. He also visited us in Gainesville last spring, and we are very much on the same page philosophically."

The Gators split up special teams duties in the spring because D.J. Durkin was promoted from linebackers coach/special teams coordinator to defensive coordinator after Dan Quinn resigned to become the defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks. Young’s resignation, however, gave him an opportunity to bring the units under one person’s control.

Choate, who joined the UTEP staff after spending the 2012 season as the linebackers coach at Washington State, has been a special teams coordinator for nine seasons at Utah State (2003-05), Eastern Illinois (2005) and Boise State (2006-2011). Choate also coached running backs, linebackers and nickel backs at Boise State.

"I’m excited about the opportunity to join the Gator staff and have the chance to compete at the highest level," Choate said in a statement. "I’ve gotten to know Coach Muschamp over the past couple of years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a coach and a person. I’m looking forward to continuing the great special teams tradition that has been established here and can’t wait to get to work."

Gators 10th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

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Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There are still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. Florida will have some reloading to do, but is still No. 10.

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ATLANTA -- Two of the Peach State’s top outside linebackers recently met in the backfield of the Rising Seniors Bowl game and threw down the West team’s quarterback, Brooks Barden (Cartersville, Ga./Cartersville). Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) came of the right end and Dante Sawyer (Flowery Branch, Ga./North Gwinnett) crashed the left side and both caught Barden before he could slip away. While it was clear Barden never had a chance, credit for the sack was a highly-contested debate.

“Oh, that was my sack.” Allen-Williams said. “Look, Dante and I had a little bet going on to see who would get the most sacks, so we ended up tying on them. So you know [when] there are two good ends on this field, you’re bound to have a good pass rush every now and then.”

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McCrary decommits from Florida State 

November, 16, 2012
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ESPN Watch List wide receiver Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef) has decided to remove himself from Florida State's 2014 commitment list.

The junior prospect has added a bunch of offers since his commitment to the Seminoles last July and now has options including Boise State, Clemson, Florida, Kansas State, LSU, Marshall, Ohio State and USF.

McCrary has not shut the door on Florida State, though. He says he will continue to continue considering the Seminoles as his recruitment progresses, but wanted to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.

With the removal of McCrary's name, FSU is down to six commitments for the class of 2014. C.J. Worton (Homestead, Fla./South Dade) and J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) are the lone wide receiver commitments in the class, although JoJo Robinson (Miami/Northwestern) could end up at the position as well.

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Bryson Allen-Williams tries new spot 

November, 6, 2012
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DECATUR, Ga. -- Defensive end Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) got his first start at middle linebacker Friday night, and the ESPN Watch List member loved it. He finished with double-digit tackles, multiple quarterback hurries, an interception and a forced fumble that teammate Daletavius McGhee returned 74 yards for a touchdown.

“That was my first game playing linebacker and I think I did OK,” Allen-Williams said.

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Five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) remains wide open with his recruitment, but the 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete said Wednesday he is close to deciding which official visits he will take.

"I haven't planned anything right yet, but it's getting close to where I'm going to start to plan some visits," Alexander said. "I'll probably take two unofficial visits out of state and then all five of my official visits."

Alexander, who will play in the U.S. Army Bowl in January, said that although he hasn't officially set his visits, he knows of some schools he would like to see.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The success of Florida’s offense in 2012 will depend largely on the last 10 or so seconds before the snap.

New offensive coordinator Brent Pease hopes to use that short amount of time to create confusion in opposing defenses by using various shifts and motions. The goal is to create mismatches or blown assignments that the Gators can exploit for big gains and touchdowns -- something the offense didn’t have a ton of last season.

[+] EnlargePease
UF CommunicationsFlorida offensive coordinator Brent Pease held the same position at Boise State last season.
"It makes the defense think a lot more," receiver Frankie Hammond said. "We come out in this formation and it looks totally different, but in actuality it might be the same play (they ran earlier in the game), but it looks different to the defense.

"Stuff like that definitely makes it easier for us."

Last season the Gators’ offense made things easy for opponents. Florida finished 105th nationally in total offense (328.7 yards per game) and 71st nationally in scoring (25.5 points per game). The Gators scored 47 points in four SEC games in October -- one point less than they scored against Kentucky -- and converted only 32.1 percent of their third downs, the worst single-season total in school history.

Quarterback John Brantley and coordinator Charlie Weis are gone, but the Gators will have an inexperienced quarterback, a new starting running back and an inconsistent and unproductive group of receivers. The shifts and motions that Pease brought with him from Boise State should help.

Several players could shift spots and motion across the formation before the snap. For example, tight end Jordan Reed might line up in the slot on the left side but then motion across the formation and then line up as an in-line tight end on the right side. Or fullback Hunter Joyer could line up in the backfield, then move to an H-back spot on the left side. Or both things could happen.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- If Florida fans are expecting the Gators’ offense under Brent Pease to be as productive as Boise State’s offense was last season, they will be disappointed.

That would be unrealistic because what the Broncos did in 2011 -- 44.2 points per game (fifth nationally) and 481.3 yards per game (ninth nationally) -- was the culmination of more than just training camp.

It was more than a decade in the making.

It began when current head coach Chris Petersen was hired as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator in 2001, continued when he was promoted to head coach following for the 2006 season, and culminated with quarterback Kellen Moore’s senior season in 2011.

"We won’t be at this point in our season being able to throw the volume or the library of plays (and) schemes (at the players) that we did when I was at Boise State," Pease said Wednesday. "That was an accumulation of when I was there for six years, but more importantly back even when Chris Petersen (was hired).

"You can’t put those (11) years into seven or eight months."

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The Clemson Tigers added another big piece to their defensive line Tuesday as ESPN 300 four-star defensive tackle Scott Pagano (Honolulu/Moanalua) committed to head coach Dabo Swinney. Pagano joins No. 1 overall player Robert Nkemdiche (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) and No. 6 defensive end Elijah Daniel (Avon, Ind./Avon) in the Tigers’ class.

It was something of a surprise announcement, as Pagano wasn’t truly considering Clemson until late last week. He, along with his mother and sister, took an eight-day trip to visit four schools in the Southeast, though Pagano was ready to cut one of the school visits.

“It was just fate,” Pagano said. “To be honest, I didn’t even want to visit Clemson. But when I went there, it was just so awesome. The players and the coaches are down to earth and it felt so right to be there.”

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ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett
Icon SMI, Getty ImagesWith true freshmen QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett forced onto the field, Florida struggled to convert third downs in 2011.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Offense is what kept Florida from being a better team in 2011.

The Gators had one of the nation’s better defenses last season. UF ranked in the top 10 nationally in third-down defense (second, 27.3 percent), pass defense (seventh, 166.8 yards per game) and total defense (eighth, 299.5 yards per game). But that couldn’t overcome an offense that scored just 27 points in losses to Alabama, LSU and Auburn, and scored 12 or less points in five of its six losses.

The biggest reason for the offensive struggles -- other than the injury to quarterback John Brantley -- was the Gators’ ineffectiveness on third down. UF converted just 32.1 percent of its third downs (51-of-159), which ranked 111th nationally (out of 120 teams) and was the second-worst percentage in school history. Only the 1979 team (26.1 percent) was worse.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida had just two players drafted over the past three days: defensive tackle Jaye Howard (fourth round, Seattle) and running back Chris Rainey (fifth round, Pittsburgh). Here are some numbers and stats to put that into perspective:

The Gators have had fewer than three players drafted in one year just five times since 1980: 2012, 2008, 1993, 1982 and 1980.

UF has had at least one player drafted in the first three rounds for the past 18 seasons. The last time UF didn’t have at least one player taken in the top three rounds was 1993 (Lawrence Hatch was a sixth-round pick by New England, and Will White was a seventh-round pick by Phoenix).

Florida’s streak of consecutive years with at least one first-round selection ends at five. Entering the draft, it was the longest active streak in the nation.

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Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) has become accustomed to receiving scholarship offers this spring. But Wednesday morning, while speaking with coaches from USC, he was caught off guard.

"I thought they just wanted me to come to their spring game," Goodman said. "I was not expecting them to offer. It was a surprise."

Goodman, a 6-foot-2, 190 pound safety, has now collected nearly two dozen scholarship offers, from schools such as Boise State, Florida, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. He had been in touch with the USC coaches and visited the campus for a junior day in February, but when an offer wasn't extended then at that point, he assumed he wouldn't receive one this early.

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