Florida Gators: Willie Bailey

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Not everybody can get on the field right away. Some players take longer than others to develop.

Florida signed 23 players in 2012 and several made an immediate impact: offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, defensive linemen Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr., and linebacker Antonio Morrison were Freshmen All-SEC. Others, however, didn’t get a single snap of playing time.

Here’s how we see the rest of the class shaping up:

Top of the class

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida freshman cornerback Willie Bailey is transferring.

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Bailey enrolled in January and redshirted in 2012. The former Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale High School standout was a three-star recruit and ESPN's No. 24 cornerback. He chose Florida over Miami, North Carolina and South Florida.

The loss doesn't impact Florida's secondary much at all. Florida's top four corners (Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy, Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins) return in 2013. Freshmen Rhaheim Ledbetter, Marcus Maye and Brian Poole were ahead of Bailey on the depth chart. The Gators also have commitments from Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton), the nation's No. 1 cornerback, as well as three other defensive backs: Keanu Neal (Bushnell, Fla./South Sumter), Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) and Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian).
ESPN’s GatorNation is previewing each position leading up to the start of the season with a short video. Each Friday until the season kicks off, Michael DiRocco and Jeff Barlis will analyze a position group, tell you who is starting and why, and provide a breakdown of the depth at the position. This week it’s the secondary.

The starters: CB Marcus Roberson (So.), S Matt Elam (Jr.), S Josh Evans (Sr.), CB Loucheiz Purifoy (So.)

The backups: CB Jaylen Watkins (Jr.), CB Jeremy Brown (RJr.), S Cody Riggs (Jr.), S Jabari Gorman (So.), S De’Ante Saunders (So.), S Valdez Showers (RFr.), DB Willie Bailey (Fr.), CB Brian Poole (Fr.), S Rhaheim Ledbetter (Fr.), S Marcus Maye (Fr.)

Comment: The secondary is loaded with a good mix of young and veteran talent. Elam is a potential first-round NFL draft pick. Roberson started 10 games last season before going down with a neck injury. Purifoy had a great spring and pairs with Roberson to give the Gators a pair of big corners. Watkins, Saunders and Riggs all started games last season. Gorman had a good spring and led all tacklers in the spring game. Plenty of opportunities on special teams for the other freshmen.

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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. -- Florida is one of only five SEC programs to make the top 25 in ESPN’s team recruiting rankings in each of the past five seasons.

In fact, the Gators finished in the top five in four of those five years. But somehow that hasn’t translated to consistent on-field success.

Florida lost just two games combined in 2008 and 2009, but very few of the members of those signing classes contributed significantly -- which shows how good UF’s roster was in those two seasons. Since then, however, the Gators are a combined 15-11, and while some of those highly touted signees have turned into very good players, UF has slipped from its spot among the national elite.

But things are looking brighter entering 2012. The core of this year’s team is comprised of members of the 2009 and 2010 classes, and several members of the 2011 class appear to be ready to become significant contributors or are on the verge of being elite players.

Here’s a look at those signing classes (see chart below):

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida held its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. It was closed to the media and public, but coach Will Muschamp said the following:

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee
Courtesy UF CommunicationsFlorida running back Mike Gillislee was singled out for praise after Saturday's scrimmage.
Running back Mike Gillislee was the offensive player of the day. The senior continues to hold onto the No. 1 spot atop the depth chart, especially with his improved pass-blocking.

Defensive end Ronald Powell was the defensive player of the day. He had several third-down stops, a sack and several quarterback pressures. Muschamp singled out Powell and Gillislee for having great offseasons.

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Chomp Confidential: Recruiting notes 

January, 26, 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:

• The latest on the quarterback situation
• Will a commit qualify?
• Derek's mock class

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Where UF recruiting stands on defense 

January, 25, 2012
[+] EnlargeMarcus Maye
David De PasMarcus Maye could see early playing time with his ability to play the run and the pass.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's recruiting board is taking its final shape, as detailed in Tuesday's look at the offense. Here is a position-by-position look at where the Gators currently stand on defense:

Commits: Marcus Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter
Prospects: none

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker became the sixth Florida recruit to enroll early, but there is some uncertainty about whether defensive tackle Quinteze Williams will be able to do so this week.

A UF official confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the NCAA Clearinghouse approved Dunker's transcript, and he should be enrolled in classes today. However, there were still some questions regarding Williams' situation, and the school is hopeful it will be resolved by the end of the week.

If Williams is unable to enroll this spring, he will join the rest of UF's signing class and enroll in the summer.

Dunker (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) played tackle at Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach High School but is expected to start his collegiate career at left guard. That's the weakest position on the offensive line heading into spring practice and Dunker could end up winning the job by the time the season begins.

Williams (6-4, 295), who played at Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek High School, was going to compete for playing time in the tackle rotation.

On Monday, five other players enrolled early: offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, receiver Latroy Pittman, defensive back Willie Bailey and linebacker Antonio Morrison.

Five UF recruits enroll early

January, 9, 2012
Five University of Florida recruits -- including two who have a chance to play significantly in 2012 -- have enrolled early and are eligible to compete in spring practice.

Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, offensive tackle D.J. Humphries, receiver Latroy Pittman, defensive back Willie Bailey, and linebacker Antonio Morrison were on the Gainesville campus today, the first day of the spring semester, a UF official confirmed this morning.

Humphries, a five-star recruit from Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek, and Pittman, a four-star recruit from Citra (Fla.) North Marion, are expected to compete for playing time in the fall at two of Florida's biggest positions of need. Humphries (6-foot-6, 275 pounds) is ESPNU's top-rated offensive tackle. Pittman (6-0, 195) is ESPNU's No. 16 receiver.

Florida visitor preview, Agholor tripping 

December, 9, 2011
UPDATE: It appears four-star wide receiver prospect Nelson Agholor, one of Florida's top targets, has changed his mind and is visiting UF after all.

Late Friday afternoon, Agholor tweeted, "Headed to uf" and later followed up with a tweet about having dinner at coach Will Muschamp's house.


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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.