- Derek Tyson, RecruitingNation
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators finished with the No. 2 overall recruiting class in the country last year and are again off to a hot start for the 2014 cycle. Six of Florida's 10 verbal commitments are in the new ESPN 300 rankings.
Running back Dalvin Cook (No. 22), who rushed for 1,501 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior, continues to lead the way for Florida commits. Cook was previously committed to Clemson before making the switch to UF in early April.
Record-setting quarterback Will Grier dropped eight slots from No. 45 to No. 53, but will have a chance to improve his ranking with a strong performance at the Elite 11 camp at the end of the month.
As a junior, Grier set a national record when he threw for 837 yards and 10 touchdowns in a single game.
One of Florida's most recent commits, athlete J.C. Jackson, dropped from the No. 48 prospect down to No. 72. Jackson had been committed to FSU as a receiver but backed off that pledge and less than a week later committed to the Gators as a cornerback.
Defensive tackle Anthony Moten dropped out of the ESPN 150, falling from No. 143 to No. 152. Like Grier, Moten will have a chance to improve his position with a solid performance at The Opening in July.
Making their debut on the ESPN 300 are defensive back Duke Dawson (No. 240) and offensive tackle Ben Knox (No. 267).
Dawson said he was honored to be on the list, but admits it took a lot of work.
"You have to work hard to get where you are at and that's what I try to do," he said. "I come out and work hard in everything that I do and improve my skills. It feels great to be on the list."
The Gators are hoping to add several more targets that appear on the ESPN 300.
Five-star targets Da'Shawn Hand and Adoree' Jackson, ranked No. 4 and 5 respectively, both have the Gators near the top of their lists. Hand named Florida in his top three last Wednesday despite having never visited Gainesville.
Jackson, who is also a top track prospect, likes the idea of playing both sports at UF and the Gators just recently won the national championship in outdoor track and field.
In addition to Hand and Jackson, the Gators are also in contention for ESPN 300 members such as athletes Speedy Noil (No. 9) and Stanton Truitt (No. 198), linebackers Raekwon McMillan (No. 13), Clifton Garrett (No. 59) and Gavin Bryant (No. 235), offensive tackle David Sharpe (No. 14), cornerbacks Jalen Tabor (No. 16) and Parrker Westphal (No. 91), safety Jamal Adams (No. 24), wide receivers Ermon Lane (No. 25), Johnnie Dixon (No. 43) and Artavis Scott (No. 89), defensive tackle Gerald Willis III (No. 29), safety Quincy Wilson, defensive ends Trent Harris (No. 114) and Justus Reed (No. 262).
27mDavid Ching and Edward Aschoff