Florida Gators: FNL-2012

Podcast: The Verbal Commitment

August, 2, 2012
GatorNation recruiting writer Derek Tyson joined Dave Hooker on The Verbal Podcast (around the 8-minute mark) on Thursday to talk about Florida's success surrounding its Friday Night Lights camp last week. Florida got five commitments in five straight days.

RecruitingNation 411: Tyson on Florida

August, 1, 2012
In this segment of RecruitingNation 411, Derek Tyson from GatorNation breaks down just how successful Florida has been on the recruiting trail lately. You can watch the entire 411 video here.

Video: Max Staver interview from FNL

July, 31, 2012
Florida quarterback commit Max Staver (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood) talks with GatorNation writer Mike DiRocco about the experience of Florida's Friday Night Lights, his commitment to the Gators and his excitement for the recruiting class UF is building for 2013.

Florida ILB commit Hearns talks FNL 

July, 30, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Although he didn't participate at Friday Night Lights, James Hearns (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln) still had a purpose inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Observing some of the top recruits taking part in Florida's showcase, was fun even if he would have preferred to go through it himself. But Hearns wasn't just standing around.

With uncommitted targets around, Hearns wanted his voice to resonate.

2014 DB Randolph optimistic after FNL 

July, 29, 2012
Among the near dozen offers that Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln defensive back Kendall Randolph has, there isn't one from Florida. At Friday Night Lights the 5-foot-11, 170-pound defensive back worked out in hopes of changing that.

After the showcase Randolph felt confident that Florida would be the next program to offer.

"Coach [Travaris] Robinson told me a lot of good things and worked with me quite a bit," Randolph said. "It was a good event and I thought I showed the coaches enough good things. When I talked to Coach Robinson he was pretty optimistic at where I could fit in here."

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Video: Friday Night Lights recap

July, 29, 2012
GatorNation recruiting writer Derek Tyson and RecruitingNation analyst Corey Long recap Florida's Friday Night Lights camp.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Just a few short days after naming Florida State his top school, 2014 defensive lineman Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside) decided to commit to Florida on Sunday.

The 6-foot-3, 295-pound tackle prospect announced his decision on Facebook. Valentine wrote: "ITS OFFICIAL IM A GATOR I FEEL PROUD ABT IT TOOO #CHOMP CHOMP."

Valentine, who chose Florida over offers from offers from FSU, Louisville, Auburn and Miami, said after thinking it over this weekend, he decided to choose the Gators.

"I talked to coach [Will] Muschamp, he was real excited," Valentine said. "He was telling me that I will be a good fit in their defense.

"I thought about it all weekend. I talked it over with my mom, some of my friends and girlfriend, and they were saying 'Gainesville is a good city, the coaches treat you with respect, you like it there. So why not commit?' "

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Nigel Patten (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) wrapped up his summer tour at the University of Florida for Friday Night Lights.

The 5-foot-8, 159-pound cornerback showed off his blazing speed in taking home one of the awards for the defensive back position.

"Yeah, I really enjoyed my time," he said. "I came out here and competed and I won the fastest man in the defensive back challenge."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Corey Holmes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) had always wondered what it would be like to run around inside The Swamp at the University of Florida. At Friday Night Lights, he got his chance.

"I tell you this, going inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium was something special," he said. "I've always wanted to see what it looked like. I feel like it was a great experience."

Working with some of the assistant coaches at Florida was valuable. Holmes took away several nuggets that he plans on adding to his game when the season starts this fall.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Two parts of Akeem Jones participated in Florida’s Friday Night Lights.

There was the person grieving for a fallen friend and dedicating himself to preserving his legacy. There also was the football player, a quarterback from Miami, Fla./Carol City who had an impressive night and won the best quarterback award.

That performance was the direct result of Jones’ desire to honor his former teammate’s memory every time he steps on the field.

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2014 DL Travonte Valentine takes in FNL 

July, 28, 2012
Class of 2014 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside) was one of the many observers at Friday Night Lights this weekend at the University of Florida, and while the 6-foot-2, 285-pound prospect wasn't working out, he was taking mental notes.

"I had a chance to watch the defensive linemen closely and check out all what coach Bryant Young was doing with them," Valentine said. "It was a good to see how he coaches, and overall I enjoyed things."

Valentine committed to Louisville earlier in the summer and decommitted just a few days later. Since then he has taken visits to Miami and Florida State. While he wants to commit again sooner than later, he will not do so before looking at Auburn and Alabama.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Since cornerback Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) committed to the University of Georgia in February, the ESPN 150 prospect has been unabashed in his efforts to bring other top recruits to Athens. Several subsequent commitments have mentioned Wiggins as being in their ear, and as the highest rated Georgia commitment to date in the 2013 recruiting cycle, Wiggins is seen by many as the face of the Bulldogs' class.

Flash forward five months, and recent events have fueled speculation regarding Wiggins’ commitment to Georgia. Wiggins has taken several visits to other programs in the last month, with the latest being to Knoxville. He also has indicated that he and several other players intend to commit to the same school.

“I visited Tennessee because once my recruiting really picked up last spring they were my first SEC offer,” Wiggins said. “I had a lot of interest in them when coach Lance Thompson and coach Terry Joseph were there and they were a place I could have seen myself, and I thought about committing. But once they left they lost contact with me until Coach [Derrick] Ansley came in and came by during the spring.”

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2015 QB Christian Alexander talks FNL 

July, 28, 2012
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Class of 2015 quarterback Christian Alexander (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland Christian) is developing into one of the state's top young signal-callers, and he has the full attention of the Florida staff.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pound sophomore worked out with offensive coordinator Brent Pease for the second time in month and has developed a good relationship with Florida's newest assistant.

"I went up there last month with our running back, T.J. Simmons, and it turned out to be a great experience because they moved back the time of the camp from 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.," Alexander said. "So I had about two hours of just working with Coach Pease."

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[+] EnlargeJordan Sherit
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comDefensive end Jordan Sherit is a four-star prospect ranked No. 254 in the ESPN 300.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators continued their recruiting hot streak, as ESPN 300 defensive end Jordan Sherit (Tampa, Fla./Hillsborough) verbally committed to Florida on Saturday after visiting for UF's Friday Night Lights camp. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound athlete chose the Gators over offers from Florida State, Notre Dame, Stanford and many more.

Sherit, ranked a four-star player, said it was a difficult decision, but in the end, he chose the school that made him feel the most comfortable.

"First of all I want to say this was a very tough decision for me," Sherit said. "The hardest thing for me is when you build relationships with schools like USF and Miami in the beginning and now you have to go away from that. I liked the academics at Stanford, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. But when it came down to it, it was the family environment I felt at the University of Florida. I felt 100 percent comfortable with Coach [Will] Muschamp and the whole coaching staff.

"The fact it's in the SEC conference, it's close to home and not to mention the networking at the University of Florida in the state is bar-none. It's the biggest and the greatest in the state. You can be anywhere in a Gators shirt and someone will just walk up to you and give you the Gator chomp. Really, as far as networking goes, it's Gator Nation -- it's not just fans, it's a nation. Just getting to know the other commits and the players, it's become second nature to me. It was a no-brainer."

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FSU commit DeAndre Johnson sees UF 

July, 28, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida State's most recent quarterback commitment, DeAndre Johnson (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) seemed a little out of place in Gainesville, Fla., for the Gators' Friday Night Lights showcase.

The 2015 dual-threat prospect did not compete, though. Instead, his plan was just to be there for his teammates who were on the field working for offers.

"I am just came to support my teammates, Daniel McMillian and a couple of my receivers that are trying to get offers," he said.

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McElwain discusses new Florida football
SEC Network's Greg McElory and Booger McFarland sit down to discuss the future of Florida football with head coach Jim McElwain.