Florida Gators: Georgia Bulldogs

MARIETTA, Ga. -- The Nike SPARQ combines have grown with each passing year, and on Saturday there was a record turnout. If the 1,993 prospects who attended weren't impressive enough, the performances by several top prospects who came to compete certainly left spectators turning heads.

Here is a rundown of some of the event's top performers.
  • ESPN Junior 300 running back Taj Griffin posted one of the top SPARQ scores of the day. Griffin checked in at 5-foot-10, 174-pounds, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 4.35 shuttle, had a 46-inch vertical leap and a 36-foot power ball toss for a combined score of 124.29. On the recruiting front, Oregon, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Tennessee continue to stand out the most.

  • No. 3 junior offensive tackle Chuma Edoga posted an impressive score of 94.65. After measuring at 6-4 and weighing 276 pounds, Edoga ripped off a 5.01 40-yard dash, a terrific 4.69 shuttle and had a 33.8-inch vertical jump and 37-foot power ball throw. Following his impressive effort, he said his top four schools in order are Tennessee, Southern California, Georgia and Stanford with a decision likely on May 25, his birthday. The big news might have been that he currently prefers the Volunteers, but his mother is in the corner of the Bulldogs and Cardinal.
  • No. 252 prospect C.J. Sanders made the trip and did not disappoint. He checked in at 5-9 and 176 pounds, ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, had a blazing 4.09 shuttle run, leaped 36.5 inches and tossed the power ball 41 feet. On the recruiting front, USC, Notre Dame and Georgia are the latest to offer, joining Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He visited USC last week, and lists Reggie Bush as his childhood idol. Sanders is the son of former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver Chris Sanders. His mom played basketball at Michigan. He reports his family favors Duke and USC early on with a decision slated for the summer.
  • Class of 2016 prospect Ben Cleveland is already considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, and the 6-7, 317-pounder showed why Saturday. He clocked a very impressive 5.22 40-yard dash and 4.87 shuttle, and had a 25.8-inch vertical leap and 41.5-foot power ball throw for a score of 99.78. He has offers from Georgia, Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Texas with Alabama expected in the near future. He made an unofficial visit to Clemson two weeks ago.
  • Class of 2015 running back Jaylen Burgess posted a 118.44. The 5-10, 214-pounder ran a 4.66 40-yard dash and a 4.38 shuttle, and had a 36.7-inch vertical leap and 42.5 power ball throw. He is receiving interest from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Duke and a number of other ACC schools. Duke and Tennessee are the coaching staffs Burgess talks to the most. He posted more than 1,500 all-purpose yards as a junior.
  • Class of 2016 linebacker and defensive end Charles Wiley checked in at 6-3, 203 pounds. He clocked a 4.68 40-yard dash and 4.45 shuttle, and also leaped 35 inches and threw the power ball 34.5 feet. He has an early offer from Virginia Tech.
  • Class of 2015 athlete Jeremiah Mercer is flying completely under the recruiting radar. While he had to sit out the 2013 season due to transfer rules, he made his mark Saturday posting a score of 97.47. The 5-11, 163-pound running back and wide receiver ripped off a 4.48 40-yard dash and 4.18 shuttle, and added a 36.2-vertical leap and 31-foot power ball toss. He is receiving interest from Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and lists Florida State as his dream school.
  • Class of 2016 inside linebacker Tyler Reed posted a very impressive score of 104.91. After measuring 6-2, 234 pounds, Reed ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and 4.59 shuttle, and had a 35.5-inch vertical leap and 41-foot power ball throw. He recorded 130 tackles as a sophomore.
  • Class of 2015 running back Eric Montgomery posted a 115.47, one of the day’s top scores. The tailback checked in at 5-11, 185 pounds, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 4.19 shuttle, and jumped 36 inches and threw the power ball 38 feet. On the recruiting front, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others, are showing interest.

Best SEC classes by position 

September, 10, 2013
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Top to bottom, the Southeastern Conference is recruiting better than any conference in the country. Thirteen of 14 SEC schools are ranked in the top 40 of the recruiting rankings, including six schools ranked in the top 10. Here's a closer look at which SEC school has the top recruiting classes at each position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Alabama
This is the hardest position to determine who has the strongest class. Four of the top-five quarterbacks in the final Elite 11 rankings -- Sean White (Auburn), Kyle Allen (Texas A&M), Will Grier (Florida) and Jacob Park (Georgia) -- are committed to SEC schools. Alabama, however has the top-ranked quarterback, David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) in the ESPN 300. The Under Armour All-American is the 32nd-ranked player in the nation. At 6-foot-5, 241-pounds, Cornwell has a big-time arm and ideal size for the position.

Running back

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LSU coach Les Miles doesn't have a problem playing eight SEC opponents every season.

Miles also realizes the Tigers could play nine SEC games in the very near future.

Miles just doesn't think it's fair that LSU has to play Florida every season, while other teams in the SEC West don't.

[+] EnlargeLes Miles
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireUnder the current SEC scheduling format, Les Miles and LSU play Florida every season.
As SEC presidents, athletics directors and coaches convene this week for the league's annual spring meetings in Destin, Fla., long-term scheduling has become the hot-button issue.

The league is expected to vote whether to change its current 6-1-1 format, in which teams play each opponent from their respective division, along with one rotating foe and one permanent opponent from the opposite division. SEC officials could vote this week to add a ninth conference game or at least eliminate permanent crossover opponents.

The SEC adopted its current scheduling format to ensure that longstanding rivalries like Alabama-Tennessee and Georgia-Auburn would survive expansion.

By drawing the Gators as a permanent crossover opponent, Miles believes the Tigers drew the short end of the stick.

Miles won't complain about the scheduling format publicly, but he knows LSU is at a disadvantage.

And Miles is probably right.

"When they give us our schedule, I'm looking forward to having a great competition," Miles said.

Since 2000, LSU has played Florida and Georgia -- two of the SEC East's best programs -- a total of 17 times. Auburn is the only SEC West team which has faced those teams more often, playing them 19 times. Arkansas, Mississippi State and Ole Miss have faced them a total of 10 times each, while Alabama has played them only eight times.

While it's not fair that LSU has faced the Bulldogs and Gators nearly twice as often as Alabama has played them since 2000, Miles' argument might fall on deaf ears. Auburn and Georgia aren't going to surrender the longtime series -- the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry has been played 116 times since 1892. Likewise, Alabama and Tennessee have played 95 times since 1901, a game so revered it's named for its traditional place on the calendar, the Third Saturday in October.

And Ole Miss would probably rather play Vanderbilt every season instead of Florida, Georgia or South Carolina, and Mississippi State isn't going pass up a chance to play Kentucky every year.

"There's never going to be a fair way," said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose Aggies drew Missouri as a permanent crossover opponent. "If you look back seven or eight years ago, you would have said the SEC East was the strongest division. You can't say what's fair, because things change in this league. You can't look at tradition. Ten years ago, you might have wanted to play South Carolina. Now you don't want anything to do with them. You don't know what Tennessee is going to do with a new coach. I know Butch Jones is going to do a great job."

Florida-LSU has become one of the league's most anticipated games every season. They've been two of the league's most dominant teams over the past decade. They've combined to appear in seven SEC championship games since 2003, and they've combined to play in nine BCS bowl games, including five BCS national championship games. In their past 10 meetings, LSU and Florida were both ranked in the top 25 of the coaches' poll nine times. Conversely, Alabama and Tennessee were both ranked only once in their past 10 meetings.

The loser of the Florida-LSU regular-season game has paid dearly over the past 10 seasons. LSU's 23-10 loss at Florida in 2006 knocked the Tigers out of the SEC championship game (the Gators defeated Arkansas 38-28 and then blasted Ohio State 41-14 to win the BCS title). Last year, LSU's 14-6 loss at Florida probably cost it a spot in the AT&T Cotton Bowl, if not another trip to a BCS bowl game.

Florida's losses to LSU in 2002, '05 and '07 kept them out of the SEC championship game and potentially BCS bowl games.

DBs from SEC blanket combine

February, 22, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites took a look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins today in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Click here to read the entire predraft series. Today: Defensive backs and special teams.

Florida Gators


The Gators might have another first-round pick in today’s group and two other players who might not get drafted. S Matt Elam has been projected to go late in the first round -- most often to New England with the 29th pick -- after a junior season in which he was named an All-American. S Josh Evans and K Caleb Sturgis might very well not get drafted in April. Sturgis is one of the nation’s top kickers, but some teams are reluctant to draft kickers even in the later rounds if they have other needs. Then again, there are the Jacksonville Jaguars, who drafted a punter in the third round.

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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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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Garrett Brumfield (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory School) will likely be one of the top interior linemen in the Southeast next season. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound 2014 guard/center prospect visited Florida for its game against LSU on Saturday and came away impressed with what he saw from the Gators.

"I enjoyed it," Brumfield said. "It was my second time getting out to Gainesville. I had a pretty good time. It was a good opportunity and a good experience. Both teams played pretty well and both teams' defenses played awesome.

"Florida was able to capitalize on some mistakes by LSU and it turned out great for them. Florida's offensive line really stepped up in the fourth quarter and was able to get some good blocks and make some big holes."

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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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Derrick Henry sets decision date 

August, 31, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- On a record-breaking night, ESPN 150 athlete Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) has set his announcement date to choose between Alabama, Tennessee and Georgia.

Derrick Henry
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comDerrick Henry will announce his college decision on Sept. 28 and one team still remains out in front.
In a 51-28 loss to Gainesville High School Thursday night, Henry rushed for 336 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. Henry broke former Jacksonville (Fla.) University Christian star Willie McClendon's streak of 33 consecutive 100-yard rushing games from 1985-87. Henry has still never rushed for under the century mark in his high school career.

At 8,200 career rushing yards, Henry moves in to third place on the state of Florida's all-time career rushing list, trailing only Emmitt Smith and Florida running back commit Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glades, Fla./Glades Day).

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators will be bringing in a handful of prospects to watch Florida take on Bowling Green in The Swamp on Saturday afternoon. Georgia offensive tackle commit Trenton Brown (Albany, Ga./Georgia Military College) will be the only official visitor for the Gators.

Trenton Brown
Radi Nabulsi/ESPN.comSophomore Trenton Brown is a 6-foot-8, 350-pound offensive tackle at Georgia Military College.
For Florida, the visit by Brown is very important. The Gators are looking to add two more offensive linemen in this class, and Brown appears to be wavering on his Georgia commitment.

"I am committed to Georgia, but not as solid as I was," Brown said on Tuesday night. "I have been hearing that they are telling Laremy Tunsil that they are going to put me at guard and him at tackle. I asked coach [Will] Friend about it, and he said they put the best five on the field. That led me to believe that they are saying that, but I am going to talk to coach [Mark] Richt about it because I am not trying to play guard.

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Friday Night Lights storylines 

July, 26, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Friday Night Lights, Florida's marquee recruiting event is set for Friday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Gators will host several top prospects from all over the country. Here is a closer look at what to watch for on Friday night.

[+] EnlargeWill Muschamp
Courtesy UF CommunicationsCoach Will Muschamp will have plenty of prospects to evaluate during Friday's camp.
Last impression

Four-star defensive end Demarcus Walker (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) will be making the short trip over from Jacksonville. The No. 24-ranked player in the country seems to be wavering back and forth between Alabama and Florida with signs pointing to Alabama as the frontrunner. The Gators will have the final chance to impress Walker, as he is scheduled to announce his decision on Aug. 3.

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Gators game preview: Georgia

June, 27, 2012
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ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is Georgia (Oct. 27 in Jacksonville, Fla.).

GEORGIA

Mark Richt and Will Muschamp
AP/Photo Stephen MortonGeorgia coach Mark Richt and Florida coach Will Muschamp exchange pleasantries before their first game last year in Jacksonville, Fla.
2011 record: 10-4 (7-1 SEC), lost to Michigan State 33-30 (3 OT) in Outback Bowl.

Coach: Mark Richt, 12th season (106-40).

Series record: Georgia leads 47-40-2 (Note: Georgia records indicate Bulldogs lead 47-39-2).

Top returners: QB Aaron Murray (238-403-14, 3,149 yards, 35 TDs); RB Isaiah Crowell (850 yards, 5 TDs); LB Jarvis Jones (70 tackles, 13.5 sacks); S Bacarri Rambo (55 tackles, 8 INTs).

Did you know? Murray needs just 14 more TD passes to surpass David Greene's school record (72).

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[+] EnlargeLaremy Tunsil
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comFive-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil now has a top three of Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Five-star offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) visited Alabama, Georgia and Florida over the last week. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound tackle named a top three after his visit to Florida on Sunday.

"I would say they are my top three," Tunsil said of the three schools he visited. "It's a tie right now with all of them."

Tunsil, who camped at Alabama last weekend, visited Georgia on Friday and Saturday before heading to Gainesville on Sunday. The No. 3-ranked player in the country said he was impressed by what Georgia had to offer.

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The SEC/Big East Challenge may not quite have the longstanding cachet of its ACC/Big Ten brethren, nor should it. The ACC/Big Ten Challenge is 13 going on 14, and as the years piled up and the Atlantic Coasters just kept winning -- the ACC won the first 10 challenges, which seems almost impossible, before the Big Ten rebounded with three straight wins -- the dominance created a weird sort of intrigue all its own.

The SEC/Big East Challenge is just five years old, and probably less well-known than its counterpart, but it's getting there -- and the 2012 matchups should only help.

Said matchups were released by the fine folks over at ESPN programming today, and they are as follows:

Thursday, Nov. 29
Marquette at Florida
Seton Hall at LSU
Kentucky at Notre Dame
South Carolina at St. John’s

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DADE CITY, Fla. -- Pasco High School defensive tackle Joey Ivie has seen his stock soar over the last few months. The 6-foot-4, 271-pound athlete now has over 20 scholarship offers, including Florida, Florida State, Miami, Texas Tech, Rutgers and many other schools.

Joey Ivie
Courtesy Ivie FamilyDefensive tackle prospect Joey Ivie is racking up offers, including the big three schools in Florida.
In addition, Ivie says there are two SEC schools that are close extending offers to him.

"Bama and Georgia are recruiting me right now, but neither have offered," Ivie said. "The Georgia coach said they have a recruiting meeting and he would bring my name up. He told me to call him this weekend and they will let me know. I honestly don't know a whole lot about Georgia other than I like their team colors red and black."

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Spring game recruiting notebook 

April, 8, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPNU 150 Watch List defensive end Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) visited Florida on Saturday to watch the Gators' annual spring game.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker said the visit impressed him enough that he would like to return in the fall.

"I had a great time," Allen said. "It was a great atmosphere for a spring game. I definitely want to get back there for a game during the season."

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Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton
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