Florida Gators: TCU Horned Frogs

States of strength: Texas RBs 

May, 15, 2014
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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.

Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
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Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.


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Top position classes: QBs 

February, 10, 2014
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With national signing day in the books, RecruitingNation is looking at the top position classes. For the full series, click here.

Nationally (and SEC)
The Florida Gators had a major need at quarterback in the Class of 2014, and Will Muschamp and staff more than filled it, signing two of the nation’s top signal-callers. Third-ranked dual-threat prospect Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day School) is already on campus and preparing for spring practice, while No. 7 dual-threat prospect Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) was a huge signing-day flip from Florida State. Both prospects are great athletes who are accustomed to operating uptempo offenses. This should also help newly hired offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, who will install a similar scheme in Gainesville.

The Gators had the nation's best QB class; here's which schools had the best in each of the remaining power conferences:


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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Offensive lineman Demetrius Knox has had an interesting recruitment thus far. The one-time Texas commit is now no longer considering the Longhorns and will likely head out of state.

The four-star lineman has a current top five of UCLA, Ohio State, Florida State, Florida and TCU and says he still needs to further evaluate these programs to see which is the best fit for him.


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The Big 12-SEC dream games

May, 16, 2013
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The SEC and Big 12 announced an annual challenge on the basketball court, but colleague Edward Aschoff wondered what it would look like if that challenge extended to the football field.

There are already two games on the schedule this season -- between TCU and LSU, and Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. What else would I like to see?

Let me start by saying that renewing the Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas rivalries are a given. I'm omitting those matchups, but I'd love to see them.

Let's get started:

Oklahoma State vs. Alabama: OSU narrowly missed out on playing for the national title back in 2011, and both are among their conference favorites again in 2013. When the BCS "snubbed" the Pokes after the 2011 regular season, OSU coach Mike Gundy half-jokingly suggested these two play for the right to play LSU in the title game. It would be fun to see this one finally played out on the field.

Baylor vs. LSU: Straight up offense vs. defense. That's the Big 12 vs. SEC debate at its heart. Baylor just might be the Big 12's best offense, and LSU will put together another strong defense. These are the matchups we want to see. The Big 12 has faltered on the big stage, helping the SEC stretch its run of national titles, but seeing Bryce Petty sling it around against an athletic defense would be a lot of fun.

Texas vs. Arkansas: Arkansas' exit from the Southwest Conference helped usher in the birth of the Big 12 after the SWC crumbled. Texas has bigger rivals like Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but these two played some of the greatest games in college football history, and as an Arkansas native, I've seen up close how much Razorbacks fans detest the Longhorns to this day. The result would be a great game and a hyped atmosphere.

TCU vs. Texas A&M: Texas A&M fans take exception to the idea that TCU was an on-field "upgrade" over the Aggies in the Big 12. The Aggies largely struggled in the Big 12 after some early success and a Big 12 title under R.C. Slocum. Since leaving for the SEC, the Aggies have gone nowhere but up, and ended 2012 as the hottest team in college football. Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel has a Heisman Trophy. Could he shred the Frogs? Want to prove TCU is not an upgrade? Beat TCU on the field.

Kansas State vs. Florida: Kansas State is perpetually underrated and wins with a bunch of junior college guys, and high school players overlooked by major programs. Florida won big under Urban Meyer, but has been largely overrated since Meyer left and was whacked by Louisville to end 2012. The Gators would be suiting up an army of recruiting stars, but could Bill Snyder, the Manhattan Magician, grab a win for the Big 12?
Oklahoma vs. Georgia: Mark Richt and Bob Stoops have one big thing in common: Neither fan base truly appreciates what their coach has accomplished. Consider this an opportunity for both to quiet the hot-seat talk. It's been a lot more intense for Richt, who endured a 6-7 season back in 2010, but he's won the SEC East in each of the past two seasons. Stoops has averaged just over 10 wins a season at Oklahoma, and Richt has averaged just under 10 wins. Call this the "Underappreciated Bowl."

Gators 10th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
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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.

Also see:

#BlueChipBattles: Nov. 2

November, 2, 2012
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RecruitingNation has summoned its writers from around the country to compile a list of the top 10 battles for elite football recruits Insider leading up to February's signing day. We'll update our rankings periodically to reflect a change in a player's status (i.e., new offers, trimmed-down list or a positive/negative official visit).

Our writers have debated the list for weeks, but we value your input as well. Voice your opinion on Twitter (@RecruitingESPN) using#BlueChipBattles or vote for which player should hold the No. 1 spot on Facebook.

#BlueChip Battles: Oct. 26

October, 26, 2012
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Pitt doesn't want WR Robert Foster to leave the Keystone State and USC hopes to keep CB Max Redfield in Cali. The local programs' bid to keep those two stars in-state highlights this week's #BlueChipBattles Insider.

#BlueChipBattles is the Twitter hashtag to use if you want to voice your opinion on our list or to view other fans' reactions as the commitments begin to roll in. Get recruiting updates on the players above as well as the nation's other top football prospects here: @RecruitingESPN.
The Big 12's held on all season, but the SEC finally passed it for the No. 1 spot in the ESPN Stats & Info Conference Power Rankings.

The Big 12 still has the No. 1 spot in the computer polls, but the Big 12 took a hit in the human polls after just four Big 12 teams showed up in Sunday's AP rankings. The SEC took the lead by a full point after steadily creeping up on the Big 12 since the rankings debuted.

What was the biggest factor for the move? From the Stats & Info Blog:
Losses by Top-5 teams LSU and Georgia did not impact the SEC’s conference ranking because they lost to teams that were also in the Top 10.

On the other hand, losses by TCU and Texas Tech impacted the Big 12 in the rankings since they lost to teams with worse records entering the game.

The computers still favor the Big 12 over the SEC due to the depth of the conference, but the gap has narrowed. The SEC’s dominance in the polls has vaulted the conference into first place for the first time since the final conference power rankings of the 2011 season.

It's going to be a tight race all season, but for now, the SEC's pulled ahead by a nose.

UF WR Ja'Juan Story heading to TCU

August, 17, 2012
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Former ESPN 150 wide receiver Ja'Juan Story will transfer to TCU immediately according to Brooksville (Fla.) Nature Coast assistant coach Rob Kazmier said.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver was at the school on a visit and posted his intentions on his Facebook page.

"I've been getting blown up all morning about it and I finally got a hold of Ja'Juan and he said it was happening," Kazmier said. "I talked to him on late Thursday too and he said he was having a great time there. It's going to be a good situation because Jaime Byrd is there and they grew up together."

Kazmier said that Story never felt comfortable with the offense at Florida. When he committed to the program, Urban Meyer was head coach. During the offseason, Meyer resigned from his position and head coach Will Muschamp came in with then-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in late December. Weis left Florida after the 2011 season to take the head coaching job at Kansas.

"When Ja'Juan committed there, Coach Meyer knew he was going to be a project and he was excited to work with him," Kazmier said. "But the offense changed when coach Weis came in and things just never worked out.

(Read full post)

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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Gators make preseason top 25

May, 18, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach sees brighter days ahead for the Florida football team, which is why he has the Gators ranked No. 20 in his latest top 25 that was released today.

In his explanation on why UF is No. 20, Schlabach says the Gators "might not be too far away from contending for another SEC East championship" because of the improved offensive line, the work new offensive coordinator Brent Pease has done with the quarterbacks, and the projected emergence of running back Mike Gillislee and receiver Latroy Pittman.

There are still a lot of questions about UF heading into the 2012 season, specifically about quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett and whether the receivers will finally become a productive unit. The addition of new offensive line coach Tim Davis and new strength and conditioning coordinator Jeff Dillman has already made a difference with the offensive line.

You can see Schlabach's top 25 here, but below is a quick breakdown:

(Read full post)

Offer No. 15 a special one for Josh Outlaw 

February, 22, 2012
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The offers continue to pour in for offensive lineman Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), and after making a trip to one of the top programs in the Southeast, the 6-foot-4, 275-pound prospect got big news that he had been waiting on.

[+] EnlargeJoshua Outlaw
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comMLK High teammate Blake Tibbs, a 2012 UGA commit, has already started to bend Josh Outlaw's (above) ear about being a Bulldog.
Last weekend, Outlaw was in Gainesville to check out the University of Florida. The Gators offered him in mid-December, so while on campus he was able to focus on getting to know the coaches vying for his signature. They made sure to let Outlaw know his position was a priority for the 2013 class.

“I enjoyed spending time with the staff at Florida,” Outlaw said. “Coach [Will] Muschamp was very up front with me in letting me know that they need offensive linemen. It seems like with the depth chart right now there is an opportunity to play early there.”

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ESPNU signing day times

January, 31, 2012
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ESPNU's national signing day coverage kicks off at 9 a.m. ET. Here's the list of the announcements and time for some of the top prospects.

NOTE: Bold names are announcements, all others are interviews.

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