Tuesday, November 20, 2012
UF, FSU often clash for recruits
By Corey Dowlar and Derek Tyson
Timmy Jernigan: Growing up, there was never a question where Jernigan would play his college football. And there wasn't a question if he would make it to the next level. He was elite, even from a young age. And Jernigan loved the Florida Gators.
Defensive tackles coach Odell Haggins didn't waver, though. He continued working hard to get Jerngian on campus, coached him up on camps and eventually made headway. Finally, FSU got a stranglehold on Jernigan. And by the time national signing day rolled around, Florida didn't even send a letter of intent and Tallahassee was his destination.
James Wilder Jr.: A legend in the prep ranks from early on in his career, this powerful running back was considered to be a UF lean for a while. Florida State and Georgia entered the picture, too. All three programs battled it out intensely.
During the summer before his senior season, Wilder decided it was time to make a decision. He wanted it over and done with so he could focus on getting back to the state championship game. Just before the announcement, there were rumors flying around that the SEC, particularly Georgia, was going to be his destination. Instead, it was Florida State.
Nick Waisome: As one of the state's top corners in his class, Waisome was heavily recruited by Florida and Florida State. The Gators, though, appeared to have won out. As with Jernigan, Florida State never let up.
Having been committed to Florida for a while, and intending to enroll early, it looked like Waisome was heading to Gainesville. In a sudden change of events, the Seminoles got him to switch and choose Florida State at the very end and he ended up early enrolling in Tallahassee instead.
Ira Denson: Every season, and for both teams, there are always strong rumors surrounding one commitment as a possible flip. From Florida State's list this year, it is Madison County's Ira Denson.
The four-star guard has visited Florida before and has struck up a good friendship with Gators defensive tackle commit Caleb Brantley. There are no real immediate signs of Denson making the switch, but if Florida is going to make a final move, it will have to be soon. Denson is considering enrolling early.
Dante Fowler Jr.: The ESPN 150 defensive end was committed to play for Florida State for more than a year before making the switch to Florida on national signing day.
Florida coach Will Muschamp, despite Fowler's commitment to FSU, never stopped recruiting the talented defensive end. Fowler's official visit to Florida with just a few weeks remaining until signing day seem to do the trick for the Gators. Fowler has had a solid freshman year for the Gators and figures to be a big part of the Gators defense in the future.
Matt Elam: The safety from Palm Beach (Fla.) Dwyer, committed to Urban Meyer, then Florida's coach. After Meyer initially resigned before Florida's Sugar Bowl game against Cincinnati, then changed his mind and returned to Florida, Elam decided to switch his commitment to Florida State.
After some extensive recruiting, Meyer eventually pursuaded Elam to switch back to the Gators during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Elam is having a big junior season for the Gators and could potentially enter the NFL draft in April.
Andre Debose: The big-time athlete from Sanford (Fla.) High School, was heavily recruited by Miami and Florida State.
Debose was teammates with Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye, who both signed with Miami -- leading many to believe the Hurricanes would be the team to beat. Debose made a visit to FSU with just a few short weeks remaining until signing day. A photo of Debose wearing FSU gear surfaced a few days later and led many FSU fans to believe they were going to land the five-star athlete. Debose, however, liked Urban Meyer's offense and in the end he signed with the Gators.
Caleb Brantley: The four-star defensive tackle from Crescent City (Fla.) High School has been committed to the Gators since January, but FSU is still in the picture.
FSU's Haggins continues to pursue Brantley and has had some success. Brantley has said he will see FSU on an unofficial visit and then an official visit when the season is over. With Haggins' success of recruiting Jernigan and other top defensive linemen, Brantley's recruitment could go down to the wire.