Florida Gators: Rutgers Scarlet Knights

CLIFTON, Va. -- Five-star defensive tackle Tim Settle, No. 10 in the ESPN 300, will not be making an early commitment, that much has been known from the start. What is also known about Settle is that he intends to go through the entire process and take all five of his official visits.

What wasn’t known is that Settle has started to think about what schools will make the cut.

“I’m going to trim it down in August to 14,” said Settle, who earned an invitation to The Opening Saturday after a stellar performance at the Nike Football Training Camp at Centreville High School in Clifton, Va. “The reason I’m going to trim it down in August is two-a-days and getting ready for the season. I don’t want a lot of pressure on me. I just want to play and have fun my senior season.

Three programs remain in the hunt for one of the nation's top senior risers, ESPN 300 wide receiver and returner Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage).

The nation's No. 286-ranked prospect took an official visit to Florida last weekend, and this weekend visited Oxford, Miss., to take in Ole Miss.


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SEC Saturday roundup

September, 21, 2013
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There won't be any BCS implications in today's marquee SEC games -- so long as the big favorites in a couple of traditionally important divisional matchups take care of business.

No. 6 LSU (3-0) and No. 19 Florida (1-1) are both double-digit favorites over Auburn (3-0) and Tennessee (2-1), respectively. And both have controlled the recent history of series that have been much more competitive in the past.

Formerly THE most important annual game in the SEC East, Florida-Tennessee has become less interesting in recent seasons now that the Gators have won the last eight meetings, with only two of those games being decided by fewer than 10 points. Likewise, LSU has won five of the last six against Auburn, although the games have typically been more competitive.

We'll learn a lot more tonight about whether a last-minute win against Mississippi State last Saturday was a sign that Auburn is on the way back. The last two times Auburn visited Baton Rouge, it lost by 21 points (2009) and 35 points (2011), which was the biggest win by either team in series history. Tiger Stadium is a notoriously difficult place for the road team to win, so Gus Malzahn's Tigers certainly face long odds if they are to remain undefeated by the end of the night.

Meanwhile, Florida has been sulking for two weeks after repeatedly choking in the red zone against Miami and Tennessee has had a week to stew over its blowout loss to Oregon last Saturday. Only three Eastern Division teams have played a conference game yet, so today's winner in Gainesville will take a big step toward contending in the division.

Butch Jones' Vols could prove a lot about themselves by stealing a win in The Swamp -- and they'll have a chance if Florida doesn't clean up its act on offense. This will be a big game for Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel to begin progressing toward the more consistent play that Will Muschamp and Florida's coaches expected from him this season.

Those are the only two league games this week, with the rest of the SEC schedule featuring nonconference matchups that carry varying levels of interest (Vanderbilt AT UMass? What went into that decision?). Here are a couple more that could carry some intrigue:

Arkansas (3-0) at Rutgers (2-1) is perhaps the most interesting measuring-stick game outside of league play this week. The Scarlet Knights' 35-26 win in Fayetteville came in the middle of the Razorbacks' 1-4 start of the season -- a stretch that also included a 52-0 loss to Alabama and 58-10 defeat against Texas A&M -- and helped lead to Bret Bielema's hiring as Arkansas' head coach. It has been so far, so good for Bielema at Arkansas, with the Razorbacks beating three overmatched nonconference foes behind the running back duo of Alex Collins (second in the SEC with 139.3 rushing yards per game) and Jonathan Williams (third with 131.0).

Today will provide their toughest test yet -- their first game outside of Arkansas and a matchup against a team that has reached a bowl in seven of the last eight seasons. If Arkansas wins again today, a bowl bid becomes a much more likely possibility despite a murderous conference schedule that starts with a visit from Texas A&M next week.

And if the scoreboard at Kyle Field is still functional after the 91 points from last week's game against Alabama, SMU (1-1) at No. 10 Texas A&M (2-1) might place a further strain on its electrical supply. Texas A&M possesses the nation's fourth-highest-scoring offense at 53 points per game and should have little difficulty moving the ball against Saturday's visitors. The problem, though, is that the Aggies haven't shown an ability to stop anyone on defense. SMU is averaging just 27 points per game, but A&M has given up an average of 36 ppg to Rice, Sam Houston State and Alabama, good for 107th nationally.

SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert is third nationally in total offense, averaging 393.5 yards per game -- 352.5 through the air, which ranks fourth nationally. Defending Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel (379 ypg) is fifth in total offense, with 328 of his yards coming via the pass.

We fully expect Texas A&M to keep lighting up the scoreboard, but the Aggies might have to earn a stop to win one of these shootouts. They haven't demonstrated much of an ability to do that yet.

Here's today's lineup:
Vanderbilt at UMass, Noon ET, ESPNews
North Texas at Georgia, 12:21 p.m., SEC TV
Arkansas at Rutgers, 3:30 p.m., ESPN
Tennessee at Florida 3:30 p.m., CBS
SMU at Texas A&M, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Colorado State at Alabama, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Troy at Mississippi State, 7:30 p.m., FSN
Auburn at LSU, 7:45 p.m., ESPN
Missouri at Indiana, 8 p.m., Big Ten Network

Video: Official Visit talks class rankings

August, 14, 2013
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video

Alabama takes over the top spot in the RecruitingNation class rankings after landing the nation’s top offensive guard. Florida and Rutgers also make significant leaps thanks to recent additions. Craig Haubert breaks down the changes with Michele Steele.

ESPN 300 offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) has said he’s going to concentrate on his senior season and then take his official visits.

Right now, the 6-foot-5, 286-pound Prince has a top 10 of Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Maryland, Ohio State, Rutgers, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vanderbilt.

Here’s a look at why each school could fit for the third-ranked tackle and 22nd-ranked overall player in the nation.

Alabama

Why the Crimson Tide makes sense: Let’s not kid ourselves. Three national championships in four seasons is always enticing for a senior. So is the fact Alabama has a strong lineage of sending offensive linemen to the NFL. Prince isn’t one to shy away from competition either.


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GatorNation week in review 

May, 4, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- We are firmly into the college football offseason, but there's still plenty of Gators news ....

Florida nearly tied the school record for most players drafted in a seven-round format. The Gators had eight players selected -- including DTSharrif Floyd (Minnesota) and S Matt Elam (Baltimore) in the first round -- in last weekend's NFL draft. Miami selected three former Gators: LB Jelani Jenkins, RB Mike Gillislee and K Caleb Sturgis. You can find GatorNation's breakdown of UF's draftees here.

Having eight players drafted is more than a confirmation of last season's 11-2 record. It's also a big recruiting tool, and UF coach Will Muschamp hopes to use it to his advantage.

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Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Abraham Lincoln) grew tired of the questions after every basketball game.

[+] EnlargeThomas Holley
Courtesy of Thomas HolleyBrooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln DT Thomas Holley has an impressive list of offers, even though he has only played eight varsity football games.
Inevitably, someone would stroll up to him on the hardwood and ask if he played football. Underclassmen weren't supposed to be so big, they'd say. And at about 250 pounds, they sure weren't supposed to move that fast.

"I kept saying no, that I didn't play football, and they'd just look at me funny," Holley said with a laugh. "They're like, 'Stop playing with me.' That's always how it's been for me, everywhere I go. So when I started thinking about it, people were all like, 'You should play football.' "

Football was always a lingering curiosity for the ESPN Watch List prospect, who took up the sport less than a year ago. The defensive tackle played basketball since third grade, and he always wondered about the sport. But his mother wasn't a fan of him playing such a rough-and-tumble game.

Holley didn't press the issue because he was over the league's weight limit in middle school anyway. He couldn't play football if he was over 185 pounds -- and he towered over most of his classmates at 6-foot, 230. But when fan after fan kept approaching him after those high school games, Holley couldn't resist.

He had to try it out. He wasn't even sure if he'd like it -- but what did he have to lose? He recruited his uncle to help persuade his mother into allowing him to play toward the end of his sophomore year. Scholarship offers weren't on his mind at that point, so he just focused on maintaining his weight by shedding fat and adding muscle.


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Sometimes it takes a few years for high school prospects to be discovered by major college football programs, but for Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln junior defensive tackle Thomas Holley, it took only eight games.

Holley began his high school career playing basketball at national powerhouse Christ the King in Middle Village, N.Y., but when he began to fill in to his 6-foot-4 frame, he realized his future might be in another sport.


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Only three years into his football career, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic offensive tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty was not too worried about when his first offer would come. He was still new to the game and figured at some point the colleges would come.


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Tashawn Bower ready to travel 

January, 8, 2013
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Tashawn Bower has reason to consider his options. A coaching change at Auburn prompted as much. Fortunately for him, he has plenty of schools interested.

The defensive end will tour the South over the coming weeks. He will take his official visit to Florida State this weekend, followed by Florida on Jan. 18 and LSU on Jan. 25. He'll then take an official visit to Rutgers sometime thereafter.

Yet despite exploring other options, the ESPN 150 defensive end from Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata maintains he still has a strong relationship with Auburn. He committed to the school in June, long before former head coach Gene Chizik was fired and replaced by Gus Malzahn.

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Class of 2014 OL Sam Mustipher has his first visit of 2013 scheduled. It's no surprise that it's a football powerhouse.


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SAN ANTONIO -- Wednesday was a day off for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams. Instead of working out and participating in drills, the players took in visits around the city -- including a stop at the Alamodome for photo opportunities and to see their game apparel -- and used the day to recover from two days of practice.

The teams will return to the fields on Thursday in arguably the most important practice of the week. Here are five things to keep an eye on for Thursday’s practice:

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FSU might get visit from ESPN 150 DE 

December, 18, 2012
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ESPN 150 defensive end Tashawn Bower expected more college interest when Auburn fired Gene Chizik. That has definitely been the case.

College recruiters certainly sensed an opportunity when Bower, who committed to the Tigers in June, lost all connections with Chizik's former staff. The ESPN 150 defensive end from Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata said Florida State is one of the schools that has ramped up its recruitment in light of the changes at Auburn. He's clearly taken notice.

"In my opinion, great school," Bower said when asked what he liked about the Seminoles. "Opportunity to play early."

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Tashawn Bower eliminates Irish 

December, 14, 2012
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Notre Dame is no longer in the running to land ESPN 150 Tashawn Bower.

The four-star defensive end announced that development on his Facebook account on Friday afternoon. He then confirmed the decision to ESPN moments later.

"Feel they are not fully invested in me," Bower stated via text message.

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Four-star DE Bower plans official visits 

December, 10, 2012
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Tashawn Bower's recruitment is coming into focus.

The defensive end from Somerville (N.J.) Immaculata will take official visits to LSU, Notre Dame, Florida and Rutgers, the four-star prospect told ESPN on Monday. Bower has only one date confirmed, to Florida on Jan. 18.

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Florida, Tennessee Excited To Kick Off New Season
Florida coach Will Muschamp talks about the Gators' commitment to winning, and Tennessee coach Butch Jones discusses the Volunteers' recruiting class and future at quarterback.
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SEC SCOREBOARD

Thursday, 8/28
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