Florida Gators: leonard williams

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.

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.

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.

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.

Chomp Confidential: Signing day intel 

February, 2, 2012
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

Florida's NSD filled with near misses 

February, 1, 2012
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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What to expect on signing day 

January, 31, 2012
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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Florida recruiting: Hot Five trending 

January, 30, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. --Two weeks ago GatorNation released its Hot Five list of Florida's top targets remaining on the board. With only a short time remaining until signing day we will revisit that list. Here is the Hot Five prospects and where they are trending.

1. Stefon Diggs (Olney Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) -- Trending:
Diggs visited Ohio State this past weekend and by all accounts enjoyed his visit to Columbus. He will make his announcement on Feb. 10. Diggs' mother did not make the trip with him, as she did on his Florida visit. The Gators still stand a great chance with him, but Ohio State has certainly closed the gap.We have him as trending down, not because of anything Florida has done, but more based on what Ohio State has done recently.

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Big recruiting weekend on tap at Florida 

January, 20, 2012
[+] 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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Leonard Williams loves FSU visit; USC next 

January, 17, 2012
ESPNU 150 defensive end Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) took his official visit to Florida State this weekend and left with a new outlook on his recruitment.

Going into the visit, Williams had Auburn and Florida at the top of his list. Now he says there are no favorites.

"I don't think it's right to list a favorite right now," Williams said. "I loved my visit at Florida State, and I was really impressed with the coaches and how much the coaches and players interacted.

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Florida Recruiting: Hot Five 

January, 17, 2012
[+] 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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Agholor highlights huge FSU visit weekend 

January, 13, 2012
Florida State will entertain ESPNU 150 prospects Nelson Agholor, Ronald Darby and Leonard Williams this weekend.

Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep), the nation's 41st-ranked prospect, has said that the Seminoles are part of his top group of schools with Notre Dame, Florida, USC and Oklahoma.

This is his fourth official visit, with the final one expected to be USC.

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The AggreGator: Recruiting All-Stars

January, 3, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It can't be repeated enough: There's a lot of content coming out of the Worldwide Leader these days when it comes to recruiting. The blog updates are too numerous to quantify because the Under Armour All-America Game and U.S. Army All-American Bowl preparations are under way. Here's an attempt to give you links to everything written about the Florida Gators' commits and top targets who are participating ...

East Team Army notes (Insider)
Included are notes on Florida commits TE Kent Taylor and OL/DL Dante Phillips as well as Florida targets WR Stefon Diggs and CB Tracy Howard. There's also a note on former Gator RB commit Mike Davis if you still care.

West Team Army notes (Insider)
Four-star offensive tackle Kyle Murphy says Florida is among his final teams and has a shot, but most think he'll choose from teams closer to home (USC, Stanford, Cal and Oregon).

Under Armour Day 1 notes (Insider)
Florida CB commit Brian Poole thinks the White team has a great defense. Florida's top WR target Nelson Agholor is sidelined with a sore shoulder.

Day 2 highlights (Insider)
Florida safety commit Marcus Maye is playing linebacker. Top DL target Leonard Williams is making a strong impression. Top buck target Jordan Jenkins says he won't accept any more home visits while he and his family deliberate. He's likely to choose between Florida and Alabama.

Day 3 notebook (Insider)
FSU linebacker commit Dante Fowler is trying his best to not be considered a Florida lean. Tennessee commit WR Alton Howard is reconsidering and may look to UF in the wake of some of UT's top recruiters leaving for Washington.

And here's a link to the Under Armour archive page. It's handy. Not everything is Insider content, but if there was ever a time to subscribe ...

UA Florida notes: Poole shines on Day 1 

January, 1, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Florida defensive back commit Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast) was one of six Florida verbal commitments to compete in the first day of Under Armour All-America game practices on Sunday afternoon.

Poole was in on several pass break-ups, including one while covering fellow Florida commit Latroy Pittman (Citra, Fla./North Marion).

Pittman said he was impressed with Poole’s play.

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Williams slowly narrowing down his list 

December, 31, 2011
Four-star prospect Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) is starting to narrow down his list of schools.

The defensive lineman is considering Florida, Florida State and Auburn. Williams, who attended an FSU practice in Orlando before the Seminoles' victory over Notre Dame in the Champs Sports Bowl, said that two schools are standing out for him.

"I don't really have a leader but Florida and Auburn are my top two schools," Williams said Saturday at the Under Armour All-American Game check in. "I just always liked Florida growing up, they have a great program -- they were my favorite team as a kid. I have a great relationship with the D-line coach Dan Quinn."

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DE Williams to delay announcement 

December, 21, 2011
ESPNU 150 defensive end Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) will likely delay his decision until signing day.

Originally he had planned to announce at the Jan. 5 Under Armour All-America Game.

"I think I'm going to do the announcement with my team instead," Williams said.

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Weekend visitor preview 

December, 16, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida won’t have many visitors this weekend, but all four will be important in how the Gators' 2012 recruiting class unfolds. Here’s an unofficial list of who will be here:

Leonard Williams (6-4/260, Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) Williams is being recruited by Florida as a strongside defensive end or defensive tackle. At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, he is big and athletic enough to play either. Williams has said recently that Auburn and Florida were his top two schools but sounded like Auburn seemed to have the slight advantage over the Gators. This visit and the departure of Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof to Central Florida could go a long way in Williams recruitment.

Visesio Salt (6-3/340, Walnut, Calif./Mt. San Antonio C.C.) Salt visited Cal last weekend and came away very impressed. With his massive frame, Salt is the big defensive tackle Florida is looking for to play in their 3-4 defense. Cal appears to be the leader at this time, but things could change after he visits Gainesville.

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GatorNation recruiting mailbag 

December, 7, 2011
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s been a rough week for Gator recruiting. Could there be good news on the horizon? It's time to dip in to the GatorNation recruiting mailbag and answer the questions you want to know. There were some great questions this week, but due to the amount of questions we’ve received, we won’t be able to get to all of them here. We encourage you to ask your questions on our Insider forum, The Chompions Club.

Kendallland1: Is Avery Young more Orange & Blue than that awful Red & Black?

A: There is no doubt Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) offensive tackle Avery Young (6-foot-6/292) enjoyed his visit to Gainesville on Thanksgiving weekend. Young gave his Florida visit a 10 and said Auburn and Florida were his top two schools.

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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.