Florida Gators: avery young

SEC's lunch links

April, 7, 2014
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There were 80 fires put out and 21 arrests in Lexington on Saturday night after Kentucky defeated Wisconsin to reach Monday night's college basketball national championship game. Whatever happened to "Act like you've been there before?"
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There's no consolation prize when you lose a recruiting battle, just an empty feeling and an empty space on the big board.

It hurts even more to lose a player on signing day, when there is no tomorrow and no other players on the big board to turn to.

Under coach Will Muschamp, Florida has had its share of wins on the recruiting trail. It's also had some impactful losses.

Here's a look at some of the top players the Gators missed on in recent years.

2011
ESPN class rank: No. 12


[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsThe Gators were once a frontrunner for Timmy Jernigan, but he ended up at FSU where he became one of the nation's top defensive tackles.
It would hardly be fair to pin most of the Gators' head-to-head recruiting losses in this class on Muschamp, who was hired in mid-December 2010. He inherited a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 from then-retired coach Urban Meyer, and Muschamp was commended for keeping the bulk of the class together. For example, Muschamp had less than a week to make an impression on Nick Waisome before the nation's No. 2-ranked cornerback decommitted from Florida and flipped to FSU. Not Muschamp's fault.

But the head coach and his staff did have several weeks to take the recruiting baton and try to close with a couple of uncommitted gems from the state of Florida. The Gators were considered frontrunners at one time for DT Timmy Jernigan and LB Curt Maggitt, who ended up at Florida State and Tennessee, respectively. In both cases, Muschamp was unable to capitalize on his reputation for defense and lost the two prospects to offensive-minded head coaches.

2012
ESPN class rank: No. 4

The Gators suffered a painful loss in January when DE/LB Jordan Jenkins picked Georgia. He was a top priority and the UF coaching staff had put a lot of time and effort into his recruitment. The bad news foreshadowed what can only be described as a signing day nightmare, as Florida struck out with eight uncommitted recruits and another who made his decision shortly thereafter.

Desperate for help at receiver, Florida was spurned by two of the top prospects in the nation, Nelson Agholor (USC) and Stefon Diggs (Maryland), who have already shown flashes of brilliance on the field. The Trojans were also the beneficiary of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who said he made up his mind on the morning of signing day. Florida was a painfully close second, and Williams made an instant impact as a freshman starter.

Muschamp also felt good about keeping offensive lineman Avery Young in his home state, but he ended up at Auburn, where he started on last season's national runner-up. Another Floridian, the nation's No. 1 cornerback, Tracy Howard, was considered a lock for the Gators until he took a visit to Miami on the last weekend before signing day and changed his mind.

And who could forget the gripping saga of No. 1 outside linebacker prospect Josh Harvey-Clemons? He announced his decision to go to Georgia in the morning on ESPNU's signing day show. His family was shocked. They wanted him close to home in Valdosta, Ga., and thought he would choose UF. The situation turned surreal when his grandfather and legal guardian refused to sign the letter of intent. It took a full day to sort out, but Harvey-Clemons faxed his letter of intent to attend Georgia the morning after signing day.

2013
ESPN class rank: No. 2


The headline in the local newspaper was "Muschamp set up for stress-free signing day". Indeed, most of the drama took place in January when Florida signed eight early enrollees, including three top-rated players who flipped to Florida late in the process. It was a strong rebound for a coach who took some criticism with the way he closed out his class the year before.

But there were some misses, recruits who could have played a big role for the Gators in what turned out to be a woeful 2013.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker, both top-40 prospects in the ESPN 300, picked FSU over Florida. Walker, from Jacksonville, Fla., originally committed to Alabama over UF. When he wavered many thought the Gators would be the beneficiary. Instead he flipped to the Seminoles just before enrolling in January. Ramsey, who had been committed to USC for months, changed his mind when Trojans coach Lane Kiffin came under fire. Instead of choosing the Gators, where his high school teammate QB Max Staver was committed, Ramsey ended up at FSU and made a huge impact as a starter on the Noles' national championship team last season.

Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, ranked No. 1 at his position and No. 5 overall, was another tough loss. Like Jernigan two years before, Florida was a frontrunner at one time. Both prospects went to the same high school in Lake City, Fla, just 45 minutes north of Gainesville. Tunsil ended up at Ole Miss, where he started all but four games as a true freshman.

Florida O-line needs infusion of talent

December, 12, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With a strong desire for early playing time, new Florida offensive tackle commit David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) couldn't help but see plenty of opportunity with the Gators.

Florida's offensive line has been a sore spot for the past two seasons. It's been beaten up by marauding defensive linemen, battered by injuries and called soft by head coach Will Muschamp. The O-line became an easy scapegoat on an offense that has struggled not only to throw forward passes but to keep quarterbacks healthy and clean.

[+] EnlargeD.J. Humphries
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesD.J. Humphries is all that's left on the offensive line from Florida's 2012 recruiting class.
Getting a commitment from the nation's No. 2 offensive tackle prospect comes at just the right time for a UF program desperate to discover an offensive identity.

Muschamp is fond of calling the SEC a line-of-scrimmage league, but his Gators have missed on a few high-profile offensive linemen in recent years.

Last year it was Laremy Tunsil, the No. 1 offensive tackle prospect in the nation, who lived 45 miles up the road from Gainesville in Lake City. He had significant interest in Florida during his junior year of high school, but it waned throughout his senior year before he signed with Ole Miss. Tunsil lived up to his billing this fall, starting all but four games at left tackle for the Rebels as a freshman.

The Class of 2012 was a strong year for offensive linemen in the state of Florida. But Jacksonville's John Theus signed with Georgia and Palm Beach Gardens' Avery Young chose Auburn. Both are solid starters in the SEC.

UF wound up signing just one of the 2012 Floridian offensive linemen in Jessamen Dunker, who redshirted and was expected to compete for a starting job last spring. But he was arrested, suspended and transferred not long after his first year was complete.

Dunker's departure reduced Florida's already-tiny 2012 OL class to just D.J. Humphries, who started seven games at left tackle this season before a knee injury sidelined him for the final five games.

To bolster depth and stabilize the line, the Gators dipped into the transfer pool. They signed former Maryland left tackle Max Garcia, who stared all 12 games this past season; former Nebraska tackle Tyler Moore, who made eight starts before breaking his elbow; and juco transfer Trenton Brown (five starts).

The roster numbers are dwindling. UF loses three seniors in Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison and Kyle Koehne. The school also announced Thursday that junior guard Ian Silberman is departing, and freshmen Quinteze Williams and Trevon Young will transfer.

That means the Gators will have just two seniors next season in Garcia and Brown among nine returning offensive linemen. Starting right tackle Chaz Green would have been a part of that senior class, but he was injured in preseason camp and missed the 2013 season. With a medical hardship waiver, he can return as a fifth-year junior.

With six linemen leaving, the pressure is on Florida to sign at least the four pledges it currently has in Sharpe, Travaris Dorsey, Nolan Kelleher and Dontae Angus.

Another key to balancing the classes will be the progress of Florida's redshirt freshmen. While the Gators missed on some touted high school prospects, they instead stocked up on projects and players with projectable frames in their Class of 2013.

Florida was able to redshirt the three true freshman offensive linemen it signed. Guard Octavius Jackson drew the most praise in practice and came the closest to playing. Cam Dillard is being groomed to be UF's center of the future. Roderick Johnson has the size (6-foot-5, 315 pounds) to compete for playing time in the spring.

Of course, they'll all have to contend with Sharpe, who plans to see the field in 2014 as well.

Chomp Confidential: Signing day intel 

February, 2, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation brings you the latest installment of Chomp Confidential, a look inside Florida football recruiting for GatorNation subscribers only. As with anything exclusive, what's reported in the weekly Chomp Confidential must stay here. A few things discussed in this week's update:

• Signing day recap
• How close was Howard to choosing Florida?
• Inside scoop
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators started off Wednesday hoping to build on what already was considered by most to be a highly ranked class. But as the ink on the letters of intent began to dry and faxes started pouring in, the hopes for a No. 1-ranked class faded.

Florida got off to a hot start with nine signatures from committed players before 9 a.m., ET. Outside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons then committed to Georgia, followed by cornerback Tracy Howard, who selected Miami over Florida.

The Gators received good news mid-morning when four-star defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., switched his commitment from Florida State to Florida. Fowler had been committed to FSU for more than a year before flipping to Florida.

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Young chooses Auburn over Florida

February, 1, 2012
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Four-star offensive lineman Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Palm Beach Gardens) announced his decision to attend Auburn on Wednesday. Young selected Auburn over Georgia and in-state schools Florida and Miami.

Young said his comfort with Auburn ultimately persuaded him to choose the Tigers.

“Everything about the whole visit and the process, everything was perfect,” Young said. “They had really showed me that it was a great place, and everything about it I liked. It’s a little city, a little country to it, and I felt like I fit in with the whole team.

“I have a good friend [Tre Mason] on the team, but I got along with everyone on the team. I clicked real good with everybody on the team. I just couldn’t find anything wrong at all with Auburn.”

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Let the SEC signing day drama begin

January, 31, 2012
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National signing day is famous (or infamous) for all of its twists and turns.

It looks like some of the drama has already started.

Among the latest developments, while remembering that nothing counts until the papers are signed on Wednesday:
  • Arkansas was able to turn linebacker Otha Peters of Covington, La., after Peters had been committed to Tennessee since August. Peters’ high school coach, Malter Scobel, told The New Orleans Times-Picayune that Peters was concerned about the coaching stability at Tennessee. It’s the second highly rated linebacker the Vols have lost in the past few days. Dalton Santos of Van, Texas switched from Tennessee to Texas last weekend.
  • Alabama has taken the lead for ESPNU 150 defensive tackle Korren Kirven of Lynchburg, Va. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound Kirven is rated as the No. 8 tackle prospect in the country by ESPN, and it was thought a few days ago that his finalists were Tennessee and Virginia Tech.
  • Missouri could be a big signing day winner if receiver Dorial Green-Beckham of Springfield, Mo., signs with the Tigers. It was thought to be down to Arkansas and Missouri, but the Tigers seem to have all the momentum after Green-Beckham visited there last weekend. He’s a five-star prospect rated by ESPN as the No. 1 receiver prospect in the country and the No. 3 overall prospect.

(Read full post)

What to expect on signing day 

January, 31, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Will it be boom or bust for the Gators on signing day?

The hoopla actually gets started early, as defensive end Darius Hamilton will make his decision on Tuesday at 8 p.m., ET. He's down to Rutgers, Florida and Miami.

On Wednesday, several top prospects who have the Gators near the top of their lists will announce. Wish so many unknowns heading into signing day, here's a chronological look at announcement details for some of the top prospects.

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[+] EnlargeMatt Jones
Davide De Pas2012 running back prospect Matt Jones committed to Florida on Feb. 15, 2011.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The countdown is on until national signing day. With just over a week left until the big day, Florida's recruiting board is taking its final shape. Here is a position-by-position look at where the Gators currently stand:

QUARTERBACK
Commits: none
Prospects: Skyler Mornhinweg, Paxton Lynch and Jacob Guy

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[+] EnlargeTracy Howard
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comTracy Howard, ESPNU's No. 1 cornerback, will visit Florida this weekend.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators are bringing in a handful of top prospects this weekend and some commits to help recruit them. The 2012 recruiting cycle is coming down to the wire, as there are less than two weeks left until National Signing Day.

There will be a few prospects visiting next weekend, but this weekend will be the Gators' biggest recruiting push before signing day.

Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md./Our Lady of God Counsel) and Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) headline the list of official visitors. Diggs enjoyed his trip to Auburn last week, but now the talented athlete turns his attention to Gainesville. Diggs will be joined by his mother, his mother’s boyfriend and possibly one of his brothers. Howard, the No. 1-ranked corner in the country according to ESPNU, will be making a trip to LSU next weekend, so expect Florida to pull out all the stops for this shut-down corner.

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RecruitingNation 411: Big battles left

January, 20, 2012
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In this edition of Recruiting Nation 411, ESPN’s recruiting experts take a look at the biggest recruiting battles in their region.
GatorNation brings you the latest installment of Chomp Confidential, a look inside Florida football recruiting for GatorNation subscribers only. As with anything exclusive, what's reported in the weekly Chomp Confidential must stay here. A few things discussed in this week's update:

• Big recruiting weekend
• Latest on Diggs
• Miles a LB

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Florida Recruiting: Hot Five 

January, 17, 2012
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[+] EnlargeStefon Diggs
John Albright/Icon SMIStefon Diggs is the No. 2-ranked athlete in the ESPNU 150.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With just two short weeks left until national signing day, the Florida Gators have 18 verbal commitments. Florida's recruiting class is expected to exceed 25 players. Here is a look at the top five uncommitted prospects still on the Gators' recruiting board.

1. Stefon Diggs (Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel)
Florida has lacked elite playmakers at the wideout position over the last two years and Diggs is electric with the ball in his hands. The Florida offensive coaches visited Diggs at his home on Monday night. It was Diggs' first chance to meet new Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease. Diggs' mom is expected to accompany him on his official visit to Florida this weekend. The Gators have positioned themselves nicely to land the talented receiver.

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Video: RecruitingNation 411

January, 12, 2012
1/12/12
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Michele Steele and ESPN Regional Coordinators Jaime Newberg, Dave Hooker, Damon Sayles, Mitch Sherman, and Jared Shanker take you through the latest news on the college football recruiting scene.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida lost a key recruiting battle to rival Georgia earlier this week and as a result the Bulldogs are right behind the Gators in ESPN's final pre-Signing Day Class of 2012 rankings.

The Gators remained fourth in the rankings, but the Bulldogs moved up from seventh to fifth after landing ESPNU defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Harris County). The two schools will be competing for several other high-profile recruits in the coming weeks -- including four-star linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons and four-star offensive tackle Avery Young -- and the Gators will need to close strong in order to avoid a repeat of what happened between the schools on the field last October: a come-from-behind victory by the Bulldogs.

Florida's class includes one five-star recruit (D.J. Humphries) and 12 four-star recruits, including two (receiver Latroy Pittman and offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker) who have enrolled early. Humphries also has enrolled early. The Gators also have a chance to make the class even better and possibly crack the top three in the final rankings should they finish strong in the next few weeks.

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