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Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Central Florida drives UF's recruiting

By Derek Tyson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- South Florida used to be where college football coaches would flock to try to land the next great football star. For the most part, that is still the case -- but Florida's focus appears to have shifted north.

Since Florida coach Will Muschamp took the reins at UF, the Gators have finished with recruiting classes ranked Nos. 12, 4 and 2 in the country.

Of the 61 players signed in those three classes, only 18 percent (11) were from South Florida.

The Gators signed 43 percent (26) of the players in those classes from Central Florida, encompassing the Tampa/St. Petersburg, Orlando, Lakeland and Ocala areas.

Seffner (Fla.) Armwood coach Sean Callahan has sent five of his players -- Alvin Bailey, Torrey Davis, Matt Jones, Matt Patchan and Mike Pearson -- to Florida. Callahan says he believes it's because of how well Florida has recruited and also because of the tradition and history of the program.

"Obviously Coach Muschamp does a great job of recruiting in this area," Callahan said. "People just like Florida. We've sent kids there and the name sells itself."

Surprisingly, the Jacksonville area, only 45 minutes away from campus, has placed just five players during the last three years in Florida's signing classes, including four from this past recruiting cycle.

Outside of Florida, Georgia has been the main focal point in recruiting for the Gators. Muschamp has strong recruiting ties to the state dating to when he was the defensive coordinator at Valdosta State in 2000. Florida running backs coach Brian White is the primary recruiter for the Peach State -- and was instrumental in Florida landing Demarcus Robinson, who enrolled at Florida in January.

Apart from Georgia, North Carolina has also been friendly to the Gators. Florida has landed four players from the state in the last three years including five-star offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and four-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard, who both played extensively as freshmen this past season.