Florida Gators: Miami Hurricanes

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South Florida is arguably the most fertile area in the country for recruiting, and college football coaches annually flock to the talent-rich area to try to land a small piece of a very large pie. The large area located south of Lake Okeechobee that includes the football hotbeds of Broward, Palm Beach and Dade counties has produced 45 ESPN 300 members in the last two recruiting cycles and almost half (22) signed with out-of-state schools.


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Gators add ESPN 300 RB Brandon Powell

January, 10, 2014
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Florida was able to get its second commitment in as many days as four-star athlete Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) switched his commitment from Miami to Florida on Friday morning.

The news was first reported by Zach Abolverdi of the Gainesville Sun, and Deerfield Beach head coach Allen Jackson later confirmed via text message. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound athlete, who is being recruited by Florida to play running back, is expected to enroll in classes at Florida sometime on Friday.

The Powell addition is important for the Gators. After Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), the No. 4 running back in the country, flipped his commitment from Florida to Florida State, the Gators were left with a void at running back. Powell has speed and playmaking ability that has been missing from the Florida backfield in the last two seasons.

"Powell is reminiscent of Miami's Duke Johnson, but shorter and leaner,” his Recruiting Nation scouting report reads. "On pure skill-set alone, Powell would be considered one of the elite backs in this class, but he just isn't blessed with the measurables coveted by coaches. High-risk, high-reward player who could be a feature return specialist. Durability is always going to be a concern.”

With Powell on board, the Gators now have 21 verbal commitments including 12 ranked in the ESPN 300.

As for Miami, Powell was the second South Florida prospect to change his commitment in the last two days. The other, cornerback Nigel Bethel II (Miami/Booker T. Washington) flipped his commitment from Miami to Texas Tech on Thursday evening. The Hurricanes still have 26 commits including 11 ranked in the ESPN 300.

Week 2: Did ACC tilt balance of power?

September, 10, 2013
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Miami Hurricanes Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe Miami Hurricanes celebrated an upset win over the Florida Gators on Sept. 7.
For four months, ESPN The Magazine will follow the march to the Vizio BCS National Championship, moment by moment, culminating in our Story of the Season double-issue on Dec. 27. Every Tuesday, Mag senior writer Ryan McGee will pick the previous week's biggest moments and tell you why they'll have the most impact on potential BCS title matchups. If you disagree, send a tweet to @ESPNMag and tell us why your moment matters more, using the hashtag #StoryoftheSeason. Who knows? Your moment (and tweet) might just end up in our issue.


ON PAPER, Week 2 didn't exactly appear overrun with BCS-altering showdowns. But by the time the final whistle had blown in the Pacific time zone, there were indeed dashed postseason hopes scattered among the wreckage.

If Week 1 was the Saturday that the FCS-FBS line officially blurred, then Week 2 was the Saturday that the BCS storylines officially started to take shape. Let’s just call it Power Shift Saturday. And let’s start in South Florida.

The previous five times the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes played, the winner finished the season ranked in the top 5 in the AP poll. The programs have been on-again, off-again rivals, part of a longstanding, round-robin tourney (along with Florida State) to be the kings of the Sunshine State.

Sensing that this will be the final regular-season matchup between the two teams for the foreseeable future, the oft-maligned Sun Life Stadium crowd actually showed up. Officials even uncovered extra seats, a practice normally reserved for the Orange Bowl, not Hurricanes fans who don’t typically bother with the drive from Coral Gables.

With the heightened stakes, the blood was up early on both sidelines -- early as in before the game started. During warm-ups, the two teams started edging closer and the jawing became so intense that game officials had to give a polite warning. “There was so much smack talk, I can’t even describe it,” Miami quarterback Stephen Morris said after the game.

To open the game, the Gators' offense, led by Jeff Driskel, marched down the field on an eight-play drive, only to fumble in Miami territory. They marched again on a seven-play drive that bled into the second quarter, only to have Driskel throw a pick inside the Miami 5. And again they marched, only to have an 11-play drive stall after a failed fourth-and-1 at the Miami 16. Finally, a 12-play drive ended on a Trey Burton fumble in the red zone, with less than a minute to play in the half.

Still, the Gators' defense gave the offense a chance to win, eventually locking down what started as a runaway Hurricanes offense and limiting them to less than 2 yards per rush.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Miami led 14-9, but Florida was driving (again), with a third-and-3 at the Canes’ 16-yard line. Driskel took the snap from the shotgun and immediately fell into the habit that plagued him all day: His eyes betrayed him.

As soon as he had the ball, he was looking right, where two wide receivers were running quick outs. With an onrushing Miami defender in his face, Driskel rocketed a pass toward the sideline and wideout Quinton Dunbar, who was at the Miami 7, just beginning his turn to the quarterback.

“This is where you see Driskel get himself into trouble as a one-level thinker,” an NFL scout told me on Sunday, watching film of the play on my laptop. “It’s a boom-boom play; he’s not supposed to take a lot of time, but damn, he never even considered another option. He already had his mind made up who the ball was going to, come hell or high water.”

The play had a designed safety valve, which was Burton, running toward the sideline at the 12. Instead, Driskel fired it past Burton to Dunbar, who was cut inside by cornerback Tracy Howard, who essentially iced the game with an interception. The Gators did get the ball back, but turned it over (again), this time on a Driskel fumble deep in their own territory. Florida’s final TD made the 21-16 result look closer than the game was.

“[Driskel] does this the whole game,” the scout said, taking my laptop and scrolling back to the second quarter, when Driskel appeared to be first-option only, gunning blindly into nearly quadruple-coverage for an INT. “That play was designed to the running back on the left. If he’s not there, then he’s got a clear out to run. But again, he’d decided where he was going with it before the play even started. You can’t be a real title contender like that. Did you see Tennessee against Western Kentucky? Ball hawks. That team might intercept this kid five times.”

If the Vols do so on Sept. 21 in Gainesville, Florida -- which dropped from No. 12 to No. 18 in the AP poll -- is nearly guaranteed an opening SEC loss. During the Will Muschamp era, the Gators are 19-9. In those 19 wins, they’ve committed 18 turnovers, good for a plus-20 turnover margin. In the nine loses, that margin falls to minus-21.

As for the power shift, The U scored its first win against a top-15 opponent since 2009 and easily its biggest since knocking off No. 3 Virginia Tech in 2005. The Canes, which went from unranked to No. 15 in the poll after the win, reinforced the ACC media’s preseason decision to vote them as the Coastal Division favorites. But more importantly, they reinforced the ACC itself. For the second straight week, the conference knocked off a highly ranked SEC foe. The coach who earned that first power-shifting win was quick to acknowledge the trend.

“How about that ACC?” Clemson’s Dabo Swinney said as he wrapped up his postgame news conference Saturday after trouncing South Carolina State. “Spunky little league.”

Then he threw up Miami’s trademark "U" hand gesture and walked off the stage.

Of course, he doesn’t have to face the Canes during the regular season, unlike Jimbo Fisher and Florida State, who do on Nov. 2.


  • Georgia, the team that Swinney and Clemson beat Aug. 31, last week knocked off the team that the Tigers hope to beat on Nov. 30: Jadeveon Clowney and South Carolina. The Dawgs’ 41-30 win over the then-No. 6 Gamecocks also indicated a significant power shift. UGA snapped a maddening three-game losing streak to its SEC East rival. Yes, Georgia still managed to make the SEC title game the past two years, but the South Carolina losses always dogged its potential BCS title game status. Should Aaron Murray and company return to Atlanta this season, they still will have the Clemson loss hanging over them. But if the Tigers win out (they will certainly be favored in all of their remaining games), then they could potentially meet the Dawgs again in Pasadena. Then again, South Carolina could ruin the party for both if it beats Clemson in Columbia, something it has done in four straight seasons.
  • Michigan’s 41-30 victory over Notre Dame signified a bit of a power shift: The Wolverines managed to beat a ranked opponent, something they did only once in five tries last season. Meanwhile, the Irish, who were ranked No. 14 last week, failed their first test of 2013 after beating an all-star list of schools during their improbable unranked-to-BCS title game run of 2012. Last season, Michigan lost to South Carolina (No. 11), Ohio State (No. 4), Alabama (No. 2) and yes, Notre Dame (No. 11). Now both teams have done something they couldn’t a year ago -- one beat a ranked team, and the other lost a regular-season game.
  • Speaking of power shifts ... was it really just eight years ago that Texas and USC played for the national title at the Rose Bowl? In case you need to be reminded, both suffered surprising upsets Saturday. And if you’re a member of either of those fan bases, safe to say you’re also upset. The Longhorns fired one-time wunderkind defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after just two games, a decision accelerated by BYU’s unthinkable 550-yard rushing performance. As for the Trojans’ fall (at the Coliseum, no less), the closing minutes of the loss to Mike Leach’s Washington State squad were played among "Fire Kiffin!" chants. USC has lost seven of its past nine games; Texas has dropped three of its past five.
Miami Hurricanes, Florida GatorsESPN The Magazine
Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick (Port Saint Lucie, Fla./Centennial) joined Florida's No. 1-ranked recruiting class on Wednesday morning, making the announcement in a ceremony at his high school. Bostwick picked the Gators over Alabama and Miami.

He is the 27th-ranked player nationally at his position and 286th in the ESPN 300.

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2015 ATH Hayward receiving interest 

December, 14, 2012
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Class of 2015 athlete Jaylin Hayward (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) might be just a sophomore, but the talented prospect is already receiving heavy interest from the in-state programs.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound athlete, who totaled three receptions for 35 yards in Godby's 21-20 state championship victory over Immokalee (Fla.) Immokalee on Friday, said he is receiving heavy interest from several top programs.

"I'm hearing a lot from Alabama, Florida State, Florida, Miami and hopefully Oregon soon, but I'm not sure," Hayward said. "I have offers from Kentucky, FSU, Miami and Florida already."

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ESPN 150 LB Powell decommits from UF 

December, 10, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Just one day removed from landing three verbal commitments, the Florida Gators lost a linebacker commit on Monday night. ESPN 150 linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) has reopened his recruitment after officially visiting Florida this past weekend.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound linebacker is still considering USC, Miami (Fla) and Oregon. He is planning to take official visits to all three schools.

Powell announced his decision via his Facebook status update: "Yes I Decommited from Florida, nothing against the program just needed to re-evaluate my choices."

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Five-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) remains wide open with his recruitment, but the 5-foot-11, 175-pound athlete said Wednesday he is close to deciding which official visits he will take.

"I haven't planned anything right yet, but it's getting close to where I'm going to start to plan some visits," Alexander said. "I'll probably take two unofficial visits out of state and then all five of my official visits."

Alexander, who will play in the U.S. Army Bowl in January, said that although he hasn't officially set his visits, he knows of some schools he would like to see.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- It was easy to see why four-star tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) is the No. 4 rated tight end in the country at the IMG Madden 7-on-7 National Championships on Saturday. Smith opened the day with a long 30-yard touchdown catch in the first game and never looked back. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete finished with several big plays.

To no one's surprise, the home-state LSU Tigers have always been considered a favorite for the talented tight end, but another team is making a strong push for his services -- the Florida Gators.

"They are recruiting me hard," Smith said. "They are one of the top teams on my list. As of now I'd say LSU and Florida are at the top for me. Coach [Derek] Lewis is doing a great job recruiting me. They respect me and I respect them. As of now it's close. Florida is in it real big. It's going to be a hard decision."

The No. 143 player in the ESPN 150 said he was surprised with what LSU showed him when he visited Baton Rouge for their spring game.

"I loved the way they surprised me at the spring game," Smith said. "They threw the ball excellent, and that's what surprised me the most when I was there."

Smith, who will make his decision at the U.S. Army Bowl in January, said leaving home would be difficult, but that he looks as college as a life-long opportunity.

"It's going to be hard, but at the same time I want to look at other options than just staying at home," he said. "I want to major in criminal justice, which you can really find anywhere, but this will be a decision with me that will stay with me for the next 40 years.

"It's going to come down with how they do this year, how are they producing on the field. It's going to come down to the offense and what quarterbacks they got coming in."

Miami back in the mix for Sherit

Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough defensive end Jordan Sherit admitted that Miami had fallen behind in his recruitment, but after a late push by the Hurricanes, the Canes right back in the picture.

"I made one comment that I haven't heard from them in a while," Sherit said. "The next thing I know I get messaged from everyone on coaching staff for a couple weeks now. Especially with the addition of Travis Johnson, a great friend of mine that is going there. It makes me think about them again. I'll try to get down there in August."

Sherit, who said Florida and Vanderbilt are recruiting him the hardest, is close to narrowing down his list of top schools, but he already knows several teams that will be on it.

"I think I'll have a top 10 in the next couple of days," he said. "I can't think of all of them off the top of my head but some schools I would put in there are Florida, Miami, Stanford, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt. I definitely want to take a trip out to Stanford when they play Notre Dame."

The four-star athlete has visited Florida three times since the spring began. Sherit said Florida is the most organized school he has been to.

"Coach [Will] Muschamp and their whole staff, as far as being organized and knowing what they are doing, they are ahead of everybody else," he said. "Just the way they run their junior days. You can tell by their committed class, they are one of the top classes in the nation. It's because they are doing the right things coaching, and they just have a helluva staff. I expect big things from Florida whether I'm there or not."

2014 WR Artavis Scott earns big offer

Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide receiver Artavis Scott will be a big-time recruit next year, but the talented junior-to-be, will have to wait his turn to be the star of his 7-on-7 team. Team Tampa features several top 2013 prospects including Sherit, Leon McQuay III, Vernon Hargreaves III, Richard Benjamin, Travis Johnson and Alvin Bailey. Scott said he enjoys the competition.

"I love it," Scott said. "You don't have to come out here and worry about someone else not doing their job. We have it, they are always doing their job. Guys come out here to compete and we have the best on our team."

Scott, who already held offers from FSU, USF, Ohio State, South Carolina, Iowa State, Indiana and Cincinnati, earned an offer from Florida after recently camping in Gainesville.

"I was thankful for it," Scott said. "I was pretty glad that I got that offer. It's close to home and my mom likes that school. So it was pretty good to get that offer."

The 5-11, 165-pound receiver said he hit it off with Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill.

"I think he's a pretty cool coach," Scott said. "After we came back from the field, we sat down in his office and talked for a while. He seems like a pretty nice guy. I communicate with him every now and then. He seems like a pretty cool dude."

Florida commit taking other visits?

Four-star Florida offensive line commit Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) has been committed to the Gators since April, but the guard prospect said he is still receiving interest from other schools.

"I definitely received a lot of attention over the last week," Outlaw said. "I've talked to Miami, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Arkansas. Things have slowed down a little bit, but there are some schools still coming after me. They are still interested."

Outlaw, who said he is still a solid commit to Florida, said he will likely take some other visits.

"Those schools want me to come and check them out," Outlaw said. "I definitely will probably take some because of my teammates. I don't want to be too shy and not take any visits and just sit at my house, so I'll probably be pretty active and check out some things."

Other Notes

  • Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton), a five-star cornerback, might have had the play of the day. He was beaten by a few steps on a deep route but recovered and made an acrobatic interception just before stepping out of the back of the end zone.
  • Florida 2014 commit Ryeshene Bronson (Ft. Myers, Fla./Dunbar) caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the first game of the day. The 6-3 wide receiver caught the ball over another defender and barely tapped his feet in the back of the end zone for the score.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- 2014 offensive lineman Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory School) attended the Will Muschamp football camp recently. After his trip to Gainesville, the 6-foot-3, 272-pound guard/center prospect named Florida as his leader.

Brumfield, who will also camp at Miami on Wednesday, said he hit it off with new Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis.

"It was a great experience," Brumfield said. "I just came out here hoping to compete and hoping for the best. From working with Coach Davis at practice, he really liked what I was able to do. He liked my flexibility, he liked my athleticism, he liked my effort. He just liked the way I played."

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Vanderdoes names his top 15 

June, 18, 2012
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Monday was a busy day for commitments in the West region, but defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) isn't exactly ready to jump into the commitment scene. More than half of the top 30 players in the West have already made verbal commitments, but Vanderdoes is taking things slowly. On Monday, the 6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman took to twitter to release a list of his top 15 schools.

Alabama, Baylor, California, Florida, Georgia Tech, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, UCLA, USC and Washington all made the cut. Vanderdoes included in his tweet that he will be cutting that down to a top 10 group soon.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Defensive end prospect Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr) will only be a junior this coming year, but he is already familiar with what college football recruiting is all about. Willis is the half-brother of Alabama safety signee Landon Collins, the No. 1 safety in the country last year.

[+] EnlargeGerald Willis
Miller Safrit/ESPN.com2014 defensive end Gerald Willis has visited LSU, Alabama and Florida.
Collins spurned the home-state LSU Tigers and instead signed with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Willis said he wants to follow his brother's lead by not being afraid to get out of Louisiana -- but only if it's the best decision for him when it's time to make his college decision.

"It really don't matter if I go far from home," Willis said. "I just know that I have a home to come home to. My brother proved that he wasn't just going to stay at home. He could have stayed at home, but he thought he could go further if he went to Alabama. So I'm going to follow in my brother's footsteps. I might stay at home or I might go somewhere. I just don't know."

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Top 2014 safety names leaders 

June, 12, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Class of 2014 safety prospect Quincy Wilson (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova) was one of the top defensive backs at Florida's football camp on Tuesday. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound athlete has seen his stock soar in recent months.

Though Florida has already offered Wilson, he says he used the camp experience to further impress the coaching staff.

"It went great. I just showed them my talents," Wilson said. "I showed them I am coachable and showed them what I can do."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end prospect Jordan Sherit from Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough visited Florida with his mother and stepfather on Saturday. The 6-foot-4, 238-pound athlete said he was blown away by his experience.

"It was great, it really was," Sherit said. "I've been to Florida before but this was like the pinnacle. I saw everything from the O'Dome to alligators. I got to share this opportunity with my parents and show them what it's all about. I think their opinion is better than what it was before."

Florida offered Sherit in early April. This was the first time his parents had been to Gainesville with their son holding an offer from a school that was one of his childhood favorites.

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star defensive end Jordan Sherit of Tampa (Fla.) Hillsborough was one of the top defensive ends to participate at the Orlando NFTC on Sunday. But the 6-foot-4, 238-pound athlete's day was cut short when he went down with a shoulder injury during one-on-one drills and was not able to return.

The competitive Sherit was disappointed with the injury but said he was able to take in some valuable coaching lessons during the camp.

Jordan Sherit
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSDefensive end Jordan Sherit (on the right) of Hillsborough (Tampa, Fla.) is a top recruit at his position, but saw his Sunday cut short at the Orlando NFTC due to a shoulder injury.
"I felt I did well during these drills," Sherit said, "but the one-on-one's I didn't really get an opportunity to do as much as I would have liked. Overall, I thought I learned some things and I did well. I can go back to my school and build on these things and get better all around."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Miramar (Fla.) linebacker prospect Jermaine Grace is no stranger to recruiting. After all, he watched his highly sought-after teammates Tracy Howard and Malcolm Lewis go through the tireless process last year. Both signed with Miami.

Grace's recruitment is just starting to heat up. He claims offers from Miami, Florida, Florida State, South Florida, Texas A&M and Texas. Grace said he is planning to visit Gainesville for Florida's Friday Night Lights camp in July.

He talked with ESPN.com's Florida recruiting writer Corey Long about the latest in his recruitment.

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