Florida Gators: Demarcus Walker

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.

Walker flips from Alabama to FSU 

January, 8, 2013
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ESPN 150 defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) decided to stay in-state after all...in Tallahassee.

"I prayed," Walker said. "I just had to follow my heart. I am committed to Florida State University."

In a shocking last-minute switch, the 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior flipped from Alabama to Florida State and announced his decision just moments after the Crimson Tide defeated Notre Dame 42-14 to win back-to-back BCS National Championships. He will enroll in school tomorrow according to Sandalwood head coach Adam Geis.

GatorNation weekend recruiting recap 

January, 7, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators have had their ups and downs in recruiting this past week. Florida commits Kelvin Taylor, Vernon Hargreaves III, Caleb Brantley, Rod Johnson, Alvin Bailey and Keanu Neal all played for Team Highlight in the Under Armour All-America game on Friday, and all of the Florida commits had a solid week of practice. They capped it off by earning a 16-3 victory over Team Nitro.

Brantley, a four-star defensive tackle, unexpectedly decommitted from Florida on Wednesday and started planning visits to LSU, Alabama and Oklahoma. After speaking with several Florida coaches Friday after the game, Brantley decided to recommit to the Gators.

"I sat and talked to all the coaches except for coach [Will] Muschamp and coach [Dan] Quinn and I realized this is where I want to be," Brantley said. "I went with my heart."

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#UAGame practice: Day 4 notebook 

January, 3, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With just a player walk-through Thursday, things were relatively easy in Day 4 of practice at Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports. A four-star defensive tackle gave further explanation about his decision to decommit from an SEC school, several players talked about who impressed them the most, and an ESPN 150 safety changed his decision date.


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OL Johnson makes late arrival count 

January, 2, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Offensive lineman Rod Johnson (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) was a late arrival to the Under Armour All-America Game, but he didn’t take long to get involved in the fracas.

The 6-foot-4, 315-pound senior was a late injury replacement and arrived here around 9 p.m. ET Monday. He will wear No. 54 in Friday’s game, which will be televised live on ESPN from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.


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4-star DE Walker torn between Bama, UF 

January, 1, 2013
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end commit DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) is torn between Florida and Alabama. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound four-star athlete has been committed to Alabama since August but will visit Florida this upcoming weekend.

Walker, the No. 4-ranked defensive end in the country, said the loss of Alabama secondary coach Jeremy Pruitt to Florida State was a big loss to him.

"For me it was a real big loss," Walker said. "Because that's the coach who I trusted the most out of their whole staff. Seeing that he left it was kind of hard."

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DeMarcus Walker wavering? 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will take an unofficial visit to Florida this upcoming weekend.

The 6-foot-4, 271-pound ESPN 150 member has been committed to Alabama since Aug. 24, but Walker said taking a trip to Florida has been on his mind for a while.

"It's just been on my mind for a long time," Walker said. "Even though I've already taken a 1,000 visits, I'll just take another one."

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2014 LB Daub decommits from LSU 

November, 6, 2012
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Linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) is no longer a commitment for LSU's 2014 class, his mother confirmed Tuesday.

Daub's reversal is the latest blurb in a long line of recruiting news for the Tigers this week -- though this is the first instance of bad news for LSU. The ESPN Watch List member projects to be one of the top players in the state of Florida next season, and he'll likely be one of the best defenders in the nation.

The decommitment doesn't come as a huge surprise with Daub, as he recently allowed earlier this season that he'd reopen his recruitment to other schools after having shut it down. The Tigers were hoping to reaffirm their status with Daub during last weekend's massive home game against Alabama, but he was unable to make the nine-hour trip.

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Recruits react to Florida win

October, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida had several prospects on hand to watch the Gators win convincingly over SEC East opponent South Carolina. After the game, several prospects talked about what they thought of Florida's 44-11 win over the Gamecocks.

DB Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), class of 2014 -- "It was a great game to be at. The crowd was insane. It was just great. I love the coaches because they always show me lots of love."

RB Tony James (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville), class of 2014 -- "This game meant way more to the Gators then it did to beat LSU. The energy was positive and it helped even more that South Carolina had so many turnovers."

(Read full post)

Dawson, Tunsil among UF visitors 

October, 19, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With their second top 10 matchup in three weeks, the Florida Gators will once again be bringing in several top prospects for Saturday's game against the No. 7-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The list is heavy on prospects who are verbally committed to other schools, but there will be at least two big uncommitted prospects in attendance.

Four-star offensive guard David Dawson (No. 87 in ESPN 300; Detroit/Cass Tech) decommitted from Michigan just last week, and the Gators appear to be in the driver's seat for his services. Dawson, who will be taking his official visit to UF, said he is looking forward to spending time with other Florida commits on his visit to Gainesville.

"I'm just looking forward to seeing the campus, getting to chill with some of the other Florida commits again," Dawson said. "I'm also looking forward to seeing the facilities and all the Nike gear they have."

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Chomp Confidential: UF recruiting 

October, 12, 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:

  • New interest in RB
  • What the LSU victory meant
  • Going after committed players

Check out the weekly Chomp Confidential.

Gators looking at Alex Collins

Florida visited ESPN 300 running back Alex Collins on Thursday. The Gators have two four-star running back commits including Kelvin Taylor, the No. 1-ranked running back in the country, and Adam Lane an ESPN 300 member. So why show interest in Miami running back commit? For one, Collins is a do-it-all type of back and should help whatever team he signs with early on in his career. The interest in Collins is no knock on either Florida commit, as both players are extremely talented. The Gators, however, feel like Collins is talented enough to at least gauge his interest in the program. I don't believe it will affect either Florida commit for now.

How big was the LSU game for recruiting?

There might not have been any commits coming out of Florida's big 14-6 victory over LSU this past weekend, but believe me it was a very big weekend for the future of Florida recruiting. The Gators already hold the No. 3-ranked class in the country and have put themselves in great position with players such as four-star safety Marcell Harris, Notre Dame commit Alex Anzalone, and numerous 2014 prospects. Florida was thought to be trailing significantly for five-star tackle Laremy Tunsil, but with a dominating performance by the offensive line, the Gators appear to be right back in the mix. Michigan offensive guard commit David Dawson watched the game on television and said he was impressed with how Florida played on Saturday.

"They were completely dominant on the line of scrimmage!" Dawson said in a text after the game. "I LOVE THAT ABOUT A TEAM. Really like what coach Muschamp is doing with the Gators."

Florida also made an impression on top 2014 quarterback Will Grier. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound signal-caller from Davidson (N.C.) Day School, hasn't named a leader, but the Gators are near the top of his list.

Committed players looking at Florida

The Gators only have a few spots remaining in their 2013 class. There are several players committed to other schools who are showing interest in Florida. Lets take a look at which way each player is trending after this past weekend.

OL Ira Denson (Madison, Fla./Madison Co.), FSU commit -- Unofficially visited Florida for LSU game and will officially visit UF for South Carolina game. Trending: Up

OL David Dawson (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech), Michigan commit -- Said he was impressed with Florida's win over LSU. Could potentially still visit Florida. Trending: Up

LB Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing), Notre Dame commit -- Unofficially visited the Gators fo the LSU game and could return for official visit after the season. Trending: Up

CB Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood), USC commit -- Officially visited for Kentucky. Teammate of Florida quarterback commit Max Staver. Trending: Even

WR DeMarcus Robinson (Ft. Valley, Ga./Peach Co.), Clemson commit -- Was planning to visit for LSU game, but decided not to attend. Trending: Down

DE Elijah Daniel (Avon, Ind./Avon), Clemson commit -- Wants to visit Florida but has grade issues. If he gets on campus, could switch to Florida. Trending: Even

DE DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood), Alabama commit -- Said at his Under Armour jersey presentation on Wednesday that he would likely visit UF for South Carolina game. Trending: Down

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2014 LB Kain Daub opening things up? 

October, 10, 2012
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN Watch List inside linebacker Kain Daub (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will likely be one of the top linebackers in the country next year. After the 6-foot-3, 227-pound athlete committed to LSU on July 14, he shut down his recruitment. But now he is thinking about opening things back up.

"My LSU commit is still pretty solid, but I think I'm going to open up the doors up again," Daub said. "Anything could happen, there could be a coaching change and I just want something to fall back on and not just close all doors just because I committed to LSU."

[+] EnlargeKain Daub
Courtesy of Jeff Barlis, GatorNationLinebacker Kain Daub could be one of the top defensive prospects in the class of 2014.
Daub recently transferred from Ponte Vedra (Fla.) Nease to Sandalwood High School and is now playing alongside Alabama defensive end commit DeMarcus Walker. Daub, who has more than 15 offers, said Walker continually tries to get him to switch to Alabama.

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GatorNation recruiting mailbag 

October, 5, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip into the GatorNation recruiting mailbag and answer your questions. Because of the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them today -- but we encourage you to post your questions on our Insider fan forum, The Chompions Club.

eastorwestgatorsarethebest: With Montravius Adams visiting UF this weekend, what are our chances of securing this talented DT?

A: Florida still has a long way to go with the four-star defensive tackle, but this unofficial visit is certainly a good start. There are still several months before signing day, and if Florida can convince him to take an official visit later in the year then the Gators are right in the mix for him. I still believe Auburn is the team to beat here, but if the Tigers continue to struggle this year the Gators could sneak in and make a play for the No. 11-ranked player in the country.

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DeMarcus Walker '110 percent' with Tide 

September, 15, 2012
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 defensive end DeMarcus Walker and his Jacksonville (Fla.) Sandalwood teammates suffered a tough 13-7 loss Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian on Friday night. The 6-foot-4, 274-pound athlete totaled four tackles for loss and a sack in the defeat.

Walker, who committed to Alabama on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation on Aug. 24, said he continues to hear from other schools despite his pledge to the Crimson Tide.

"Matter of fact, [Florida] coach [Will] Muschcamp called me (Friday),”Walker said. “He was asking me if I can come down for a visit. He asked me how I was doing and just checking up on me. He started talking to me about his family and things like that. I might come for the LSU game or the Kentucky game."

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DeMarcus Walker: 'It's not over' 

August, 24, 2012
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Four-star DeMarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) announced his commitment to Alabama Friday afternoon on ESPNU, but the nation's No. 3-ranked defensive end said later in the day that his recruitment is far from over.

DeMarcus Walker
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comTide commit DeMarcus Walker shows off his Alabama gear on the night of his big announcement.
Walker said in an interview with TideNation's Greg Ostendorf despite his commitment to the Tide, he plans to take all five official visits to LSU, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and USC. Noticeably absent was Florida, a school that had been considered one of his leaders for the last several months.

Walker said on Friday after Sandalwood's preseason 29-27 victory over Orlando Evans that he still plans to unnofficially visit Florida this fall.

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