Florida Gators: Travonte Valentine

Signing day wrap: SEC

February, 5, 2014
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The Southeastern Conference had a strong finish the 2014 recruiting class. Alabama, which received a commitment from four-star outside linebacker Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) on Wednesday, finished with the top overall class by a landslide, and seven of the top 10 recruiting classes in the country are in the SEC. Here’s a closer look at some of the top news from around the SEC on national signing day.

Top class

[+] EnlargeRashaan Evans
AP Photo/Butch DillESPN 300 OLB Rashaan Evans, who chose Bama over Auburn, made a great class even better.
There is no question Alabama had the top overall class. The Crimson Tide finished with 27 signees, including 19 ranked in the ESPN 300 and five five-star prospects. In addition to the incredible class Alabama put together leading up to signing day, the Crimson Tide were also able to land Evans, the No. 52 player in the country. Evans chose Alabama over arch-rival and hometown Auburn Tigers.

The Alabama class was led by the No. 1 offensive tackle in the country, Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, La./West Monroe), the No. 2-ranked defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and the No. 2-ranked cornerback in the country Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen), who is already enrolled.

The SEC West alone had three schools, Alabama, LSU and Texas A&M, finish in the top five of the final recruiting team rankings. In all, 13 of the 14 SEC schools finished in the top 40 of the team recruiting rankings.

South Carolina, LSU and Georgia finish strong

South Carolina had arguably the best finish of any class in the SEC. The Gamecocks were able to flip ESPN 300 defensive end Dexter Wideman (Saluda, S.C./Saluda) from Florida State and defensive tackle Blake McClain (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) from Nebraska. They were also able to land ESPN 300 defensive backs Chris Lammons (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Plantation) and Wesley Green (Lithonia, Ga./Martin Luther King) giving the Gamecocks a very athletic secondary.

If South Carolina was the best, LSU wasn’t far behind. The Tigers were able to land the No. 1 wide receiver in the country Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Hialeah, Fla./Champagnat Catholic). Dupre chose LSU over UCLA, Ole Miss, Alabama and FSU. Valentine had decommitted from three different schools – Louisville, Florida and Miami -- over the course of his recruitment before finally settling on LSU. The Tigers were also able to hang on to defensive end Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, La./Plaquemine), who had been wavering on his commitment leading up to signing day.

Georgia, meanwhile, added five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), who chose the Bulldogs over LSU, FSU and Florida. They also added four-star wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage). The ESPN 300 wide receiver wasn’t even considering Georgia until earlier this week, but a late offer from the Bulldogs was enough for McKenzie to pull the trigger and sign with Georgia.

Several schools lose commits

Signing day was full of surprises, including several prospects who backed off of their commitments and signed with a different school. Three-star defensive tackle Cory Thomas (McCalla, Ala./McAdory), a long-time Tennessee commit, spurned the Volunteers and signed with Mississippi State. But not all was good news for Mississippi State. Ole Miss was able to steal junior college defensive back Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes CC), the No. 22-ranked player in the ESPN JC 50. The Vols took another hit when three-star offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) unexpectedly signed with Oklahoma. The Volunteers, however, were able to land four-star defensive tackle Michael Sawyers (Nashville/The Ensworth School), and had the No. 5 recruiting class in the country -- one that included 11 players ranked in the ESPN 300.

Quarterback Treon Harris (Miami/Booker T. Washington) backed off his pledge to FSU and signed with Florida. Offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino) was only a part of Vanderbilt’s class for one short day, but the three-star tackle flipped on Tuesday night and signed with Florida on Wednesday. Four-star Alabama safety commit Chris Williams (Kingsland, Ga./Camden Co.) flipped and signed with UCF because of personal family reasons. Four-star wide receiver DeSean Blair (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood) flipped his commitment from Louisville and signed with Missouri.

Vanderbilt able to rebound

The Vanderbilt class may not be filled with four- and five-star prospects, but the job new head coach Derek Mason did to rebuild the Commodores’ class is nothing short of amazing. After James Franklin left to take the head coaching job at Penn State and a string of decommitments followed, Vanderbilt was down to eight verbal commitments. After an impressive few weeks of recruiting the Commodores finished with 22 signees, including 17 prospects ranked three stars or higher.

The class is led by ESPN 300 defensive tackle Nifae Lealao (Sacramento, Calif./Capital Christian) and four-star running back Dallas Rivers (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson). After losing ESPN 300 quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels to Washington, Vanderbilt was able to flip Pitt quarterback commit Wade Freebeck (Fort Lauderdale, Fla/St. Thomas Aquinas) and former ECU commit Shawn Stankavage (Raleigh, N.C./Cardinal Gibbons).

Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 31, 2014
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The last official visit weekend is here. While the majority of prospects have committed and are set for national signing day, there are still several uncommitted ESPN 300 prospects for whom SEC programs are battling down to the wire.

Here is a look at 10 key visits this weekend. Numbers indicate ranking in the ESPN 300.

Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 27, 2014
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Less than two weeks remain until national signing day, and this was the second-to-last official visit weekend before Feb. 5. There were a couple of big decommitments, a few commitments and several key official visits. Here’s a closer look at all the latest recruiting news around the SEC.


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Key recruiting visits -- SEC 

January, 24, 2014
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The Class of 2014 is down to two official visit weekends remaining. As expected, there are several official visits that potentially impact the SEC this weekend, including visits by some of the top national prospects on the board.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

January, 6, 2014
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College football recruiting is currently in a dead period, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a ton of recruiting news around the SEC. There were several commitments during the Under Armour and U.S. Army Bowl All-America games, including the top player in the country, Leonard Fournette, announcing his decision. There were also some decommitments and new, important offers were handed out. Here’s the latest news around the SEC.

SEC schools land big commitments: There was a flurry of commitments during and after the All-American games this weekend. SEC schools landed commitments from eight different players during the Under Armour All-America game and the U.S. Army Bowl. Here’s a closer look at who committed where. All eight players were ranked in the top 150 players of the ESPN 300.

RB Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) -- Committed to LSU over Alabama and Texas.
DT Gerald WIllis III (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Florida over LSU and Alabama.
S Laurence “Hootie” Jones (Monroe, La./Neville) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU and Ole Miss.
ATH Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr) -- Committed to Texas A&M over LSU.
WR Frank Iheanacho (Houston/Westside) -- Committed to Texas A&M over Missouri, LSU, Oregon and Arkansas.
OL Brian Wallace (Saint Louis/Christian Brothers College HS) -- Committed to Arkansas over Alabama and Missouri.
S Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) -- Committed to LSU over Florida.
DB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas) -- Committed to Alabama over LSU.


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Dalvin CookTom Hauck for Student SportsFlorida went into Miami's backyard to get a commitment from ESPN 300 RB Dalvin Cook, but the Hurricanes aren't exactly ready to concede him to the Gators.
Florida and Miami face off this weekend in what could be the last match up between these two in-state teams for the foreseeable future. The Hurricanes and Gators have had some memorable games on the field, but also some fierce recruiting battles off it. Here's a closer look at 10 recent recruiting battles -- five that Florida won and five that Miami won.


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Summer recruit wrap: Florida 

July, 23, 2013
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GatorNation looks at five themes of Florida's 2014 recruiting class to date:

Friday Night Lights will be loaded


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GatorNation: Recruiting mailbag 

April, 26, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip into 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.

ga8or22: Who are the Gators most interested in at TE? We are a little thin at that position in my mind.


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GatorNation: Recruiting mailbag 

March, 1, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip into 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.

kendallland1: Justin Thornton, should we count him as a soft commit to UF?


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OSU extends offer to Watch List DT 

February, 27, 2013
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Urban Meyer was at it again Wednesday with yet another offer to a defensive lineman.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida lost its first recruit from the Class of 2014 on Saturday when defensive tackle Travonte Valentine announced via Facebook that he was decommiting.

The 6-foot-4, 295-pound Valentine (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside) said on Facebook that he needs to "take a step back and [weigh] out my options."

The Watch List prospect later confirmed he had decommitted.

Valentine had previously been committed to Louisville before he told UF coach Will Muschamp last July 29 that he was giving his pledge to Florida.

The Gators have six players committed: Watch List QB Will Grier (Davidson, N.C./Davidson Day), Watch List WR Ryeshene Bronson (Fort Myers, Fla./Dunbar), Watch List S Duke Dawson (Cross City, Fla./Dixie County), OT Benjamin Knox (DeLand, Fla./DeLand), Watch List OG Travaris Dorsey (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) and Watch List linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, S.C./Spring Valley).

GatorNation recruiting mailbag 

December, 20, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s time to dip into 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.

Scot5013: How seriously is top RB [Alex] Collins considering UF?

A: Very seriously. He had a great visit to Florida over the weekend and the Gators are at or near the top of his list. He still has an official visit to Miami to keep an eye on. Florida is also very tight on scholarships, so to me the question is will Florida have enough room to take three running backs? They would hate to miss out on one of the top running backs in the country, but they still need to add a defensive end, a receiver and possibly a corner. A lot will depend on if there is any more attrition.

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Recruiting rivalries: UF, FSU in 2014 

December, 4, 2012
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With just a few short months left until national signing day, Florida and Florida State, as always, have two of the best recruiting classes in the country. 2014 will be no different. Here's a look at some of the top prospects Florida and Florida State will battle for next year.

DE Andrew Williams (McDonough, Ga./Eagles Landing): The ESPN Watch List defensive end visited Florida over the summer and came away impressed with the Gators. Williams also visited FSU for its game against the Gators. Other schools will be heavily involved in Williams' recruitment, but these two schools are sure to be near his top schools throughout.

DE Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview): Ware has been committed to FSU since September, but the Gators continue to pursue the talented defensive end. Ware took an unofficial visit to Florida for a game this year and came away impressed. He remains firmly committed to FSU, but Florida is still lingering.

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Gators get jump on 2014 ESPN Watch List 

September, 27, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators are currently holding down the No. 3-ranked recruiting class in the country for the 2013 class and have just a handful of spots remaining. Florida has also given its attention to a loaded 2014 class. With the talent in Florida next year, there will be plenty of prospects to chose from.

The state of Florida has an impressive 53 players on the ESPN Watch List. The Gators already have commitments from two players, defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside) and wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson (Ft. Myers, Fla./Dunbar), and are heavily involved with several other top in-state prospects.

In addition to Bronson, the Gators are hoping to add a few more wide receivers from this list, and there are several good ones to chose from. Artavis Scott (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake) and Johnnie Dixon (Palm Beach, Fla./Dwyer) are two of the top prospects on Florida's wide receiver board, but Corey Holmes (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas), FSU commit Jake McCary (Miami/Coral Reef) and Trevion Thompson (Durham, N.C./Hillside) are also in the mix.

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Florida home to 53 Watch List recruits 

September, 27, 2012
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There are several things that stand out about the 53 2014 prospects from Florida included on the ESPN Watch List.


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Recruiting Pitfall At Florida, Michigan
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