Florida Gators: Recruiting

With a combined six national titles and five Heisman Trophy winners since 1993, Florida State-Florida has been one of the top rivalries in college football during the past 30 years. The intense rivalry extends beyond the field and into the recruiting world.

The two schools, which are located roughly two hours apart from each other, are being considered by many of the top recruits in the talent-rich state of Florida. Florida State signed 14 ESPN 300 recruits from Florida in 2014, two of whom (Dalvin Cook and Ermon Lane) flipped their commitments from Florida. The Gators, meanwhile, where able to flip three prospects (J.C. Jackson, Treon Harris and Ryan Sousa) from FSU.

Flipping commitments from an in-state rival is an inevitable part of the recruiting process. Florida State quarterback commit De'Andre Johnson is stuck right in the middle of this heated rivalry and knows just how intense the process can be.

Getting to know Jeffery Holland 

April, 1, 2014
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

BRADENTON, Fla. -- On a team loaded with talented prospects, do-it-all athlete Jeffery Holland takes a back seat to no one. The 6-foot-2, 226-pound outside linebacker plays multiple positions for Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian, including running back, tight end, wide receiver and, of course, linebacker -- the position most schools recruiting him want him to play. Holland even lined up at cornerback for a game during the IMG 7v7 Southeast Regional championships in Bradenton, Fla., over the weekend.

The No. 8 player in the country, his athleticism is something that comes naturally, but it doesn’t hurt that he has pretty good bloodlines too. Holland’s uncle, Carey Holland, won an SEC basketball title at Auburn in 1985.


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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.

Marcell Harris sets decision date 

October, 31, 2012
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) has set his college decision date for Nov. 16.

The 6-foot-1, 207-pound safety will chose between Florida, Florida State, Oklahoma and Texas. Harris hyperexented his knee in Dr. Phillips game last Thursday. The injury isn't severe and will only keep him out a few weeks, but Harris said it was enough for him to rethink his recruiting strategy.

[+] EnlargeMarcell Harris
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comMarcell Harris is ranked the No. 66 overall prospect in the ESPN 150.
"I took four official visits to Texas, Oklahoma, Florida State and Florida," Harris said. "I don't think there will be a fifth one with everything that's going on. My recruiting has been going pretty good. I've been talking with my coaches almost everyday. I think I'll have my decision by Nov. 16."

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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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Dawgs, Tide out in front for Laremy Tunsil 

October, 19, 2012
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MIDDLEBURG, Fla. -- Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) will take an unofficial visit to Florida for its game against South Carolina on Saturday. For the 6-foot-6, 295-pound No. 1-ranked offensive lineman in the country, this will be his second visit to Gainesville in the last three weeks.

Tunsil, who visited Florida for its game against LSU, said he enjoyed his trip to the Swamp.

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Big win opens eyes of top UF targets 

October, 9, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators hosted several top prospects for their 14-6 victory over LSU on Saturday. Though Florida only had one official visitor, wide receiver Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek), the Gators also brought in five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), Notre Dame linebacker commit Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, Pa./Wyomissing), four-star safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips), four-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly Co.) and Florida State offensive line commit Ira Denson (Madison, Fla./Madison Co.).

Denson, the No. 3-ranked guard in the country, was impressed with Florida's offensive line enough that he set his official visit to Florida for the South Carolina game in two weeks. Florida's offensive line paved the way for running back Mike Gillislee, who was named offensive player of the week in the SEC. The Gators have been chasing Georgia and Alabama for Tunsil's services, but after a dominating performance by the line the Gators could be right back in the picture for the talented left tackle prospect.

Anzalone has been to Florida a few times since he committed to Notre Dame. The four-star prospect declined to speak with ESPN's GatorNation because he said Notre Dame coaches asked him not to do interviews after his visit to Florida.

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2014 QB Will Grier has "great" trip to UF 

October, 7, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Top 2014 signal-caller Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day) played a game on Friday night, then drove in an RV with his family down to Gainesville to watch Florida take on LSU in the Swamp. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound quarterback said he loved what he saw from the Gators on Saturday.

"I had a great trip to Florida," Grier said. "The game was amazing and the stadium was extremely loud. I wanted to get dressed out and play."

Despite Florida's offensive struggles early on in the game, Grier says he could see himself playing for the Gators.

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Weekend recruiting preview 

October, 5, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators will be hosting several top 2013 and 2014 recruits when they take on LSU in The Swamp on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

[+] EnlargeMontravius Adams
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comMontravius Adams is the No. 3 defensive tackle in the ESPN 150.
The list is headlined by five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), four-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams (Vienna, Ga./Dooly Co.), four-star safety Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) and four-star wide receiver Marquez North (Charlotte, N.C./Mallard Creek), all of whom are in the ESPN 150.

This unofficial visit for Adams comes as somewhat of a surprise. Adams, the No. 11-ranked player in the country, has mentioned schools such as Auburn, Georgia, Clemson, USC, Oregon and LSU, but has rarely talked about Florida. The 6-foot-3, 305-pound tackle said he will take this opportunity to learn about the Florida program.

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New Bama commit Henry has big night 

September, 29, 2012
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YULEE, Fla. -- After committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide earlier in the day, four-star running back Derrick Henry capped off his exciting day by helping his Yulee (Fla.) team defeat Kelvin Taylor and his Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day team 42-6 on Friday night. The 6-foot-3, 243-pound Henry rushed for 362 yards and six touchdowns on 35 carries.

Henry has amassed 864 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns over the last two weeks and now has 1,753 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns in only five games this season. He has totaled 9,617 rushing yards in his career and is on pace to break Ken Hall's (Sugarland, Texas) national career rushing record of 11,232 yards. If he continues his current pace, Henry will finish the regular season wih 3,506 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns.

In addition to the career rushing record, Henry has his sights set on yet another rushing record. Former NFL player Travis Henry (Frostproof, Fla./Frostproof) holds the single-season rushing record in Florida with 4,087 yards in 14 games. If Yulee (4-1) makes a playoff run, Derrick Henry has a good chance at breaking Travis Henry's record.

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DE Greg Gilmore rates Florida visit an 11 

September, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 defensive tackle Greg Gilmore (Home Mills, N.C./South View) took an official visit to Florida this past weekend. The 6-foot-4, 285-pound four-star tackle said he enjoyed his trip to Gainesville.

"It was great man," Gilmore said. "I had a great time. It was a good game. The defensive front played well and that's really what I'm looking for is the defensive front. The whole defense, the whole offense, everybody played well.

"I talked to the coaches all the time I was there pretty much. They told me I would be a key essential to putting their defense together. They were saying they need more guys -- more guys that are good coming out of high school and more guys that need less development. I mean everyone needs development, but they are looking for guys that can play early."

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Chomp Confidential: Weekend visits 

September, 14, 2012
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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:

  • Recruiting never stops
  • Quinton Powell wavering?

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Recruiting mailbag: Remaining UF targets 

September, 6, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip in to 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.

rmoreiro: How many more recruits do we take, and can you list the positions?

A: This can be a tricky question because a lot will depend on attrition. Also, if Florida is able to land a transfer such as former Nebraska offensive lineman Tyler Moore, that would affect the final number Florida would take in its 2013 recruiting class. Obviously, with the decommitments of Rod Johnson (Delray Beach, Fla./American Heritage) and Josh Outlaw (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King), the Gators would like to sign at least one more offensive lineman. Florida would also like a linebacker, Marcell Harris at safety and a defensive tackle. If there ends up being room, the Gators would also like to add a tight end. I specify Harris at safety because if the Gators miss on him, I don't believe they will take another safety.

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2014 QB Wade Freebeck has Gators on top 

September, 2, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Wade Freebeck, a 2014 prospect, picked up his first and only offer, from Florida, after camping with the Gators this summer. The 6-foot-3, 168-pound signal-caller from Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) Western returned Saturday to watch the Gators take on Bowling Green.

Freebeck said he is impressed with what Florida has to offer.

"I loved it," Freebeck said. "They treat me right, I liked the experience in general. The atmosphere is unmatched wherever you go. The overall experience was great, though."

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UGA commit Shaq Wiggins visits UF 

September, 2, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN 150 cornerback and Georgia verbal commit Shaq Wiggins (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek) visited Gainesville on Saturday to watch Florida take on Bowling Green. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound Under Armour All-American said he enjoyed his visit to Florida.

"The trip went well," Wiggins said. "If anything, my favorite part was the crowd."

For Wiggins, he says he didn't pay too much attention to the game itself, but focused more on the cornerback play, specifically on Florida sophomore Marcus Roberson.

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