NCF On The Trail: Justus Reed

Gators have needs to fill in recruiting

December, 24, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With a 15-player senior class and seven players transferring or leaving since the end of the season, Florida has plenty of holes to fill.

Considering all seven of those departing players were from the offensive side of the ball, it's obvious where much of the Gators' recruiting efforts are focused.

Florida has 23 scholarships available with cornerback Louchiez Purifoy forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Here's a breakdown of Florida's biggest needs in restocking its roster with talent.

Will Grier
Miller Safrit/ESPNWill Grier is the nation's No. 2-ranked quarterback.
Quarterback: The Gators have a starter in Jeff Driskel, who is expected to recover from a broken bone in his lower leg that required surgery. Their most experienced backup, Tyler Murphy, surprised the coaching staff when he decided to transfer, but Skyler Mornhinweg remains. He started UF's last three games of the season as a redshirt freshman, but it remains to be seen how Mornhinweg will fit into Florida's new offense.

The numbers are obviously low with just two scholarship QBs on the roster, but help is on the way. Florida expects Will Grier, the nation's No. 2-ranked quarterback, to enroll in early January. Now that Murphy has departed, expect the Gators to add a second quarterback to their 2014 class. A dual-threat QB who can bring a more athletic dimension and schematic flexibility to the position makes the most sense. Coach Will Muschamp will let his new offensive coordinator find the right fit.

Offensive line: Florida graduated three starters and lost reserve Ian Silberman to transfer along with two others who were buried at the bottom of the depth chart. That's six departures -- a lot for any season. Muschamp likes to have at least 15 offensive linemen on his roster, so expect a handful of newcomers. Offensive line has been a sore spot for the last two seasons, and injuries decimated Florida in 2013. The Gators return five players with starting experience, but depth must be created as only four other scholarship linemen remain. With so few bodies, at least one of the incoming prospects can expect to make the two-deep roster.

Florida needs the most help on the edges, which is why the headline OL commitment is David Sharpe, the nation's No. 2-ranked offensive tackle prospect. The Gators recently signed Drew Sarvary, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound juco OT who could also play inside. Of all the newcomers, he'll have the inside track to play first. Florida also has pledges from three of the nation's top-30 guard prospects in Nolan Kelleher (6-5, 310), Travaris Dorsey (6-3, 314) and Dontae Angus (6-5, 310).

Offensive skill positions: Florida's QBs haven't had much time to develop in the passing game in recent years, and some of the blame can be directed at the offensive line. But nothing is more obviously missing in the Gator offense than playmakers at the wide receiver and tight end positions. The Class of 2013 saw five talented freshmen WRs join the program, three of whom saw action. But with two senior starters leaving, it's imperative that UF continue to add talent and numbers to its receiving corps. The Gators' top wide receiver commit for 2014 is Ermon Lane, the No. 2 WR prospect in the country. Keeping him in the fold is a top priority.

UF also has pledges from former FSU commit Ryan Sousa and Moral Stephens. At 6-3 and 200 pounds, Stephens would give UF a prospect with some size who could play H-back or grow into a full-time role at tight end. Florida has just three scholarship TEs on its roster, but has commitments from DeAndre Goolsby and C'yontai Lewis, both three-star prospects. The Gators have plenty of talented options returning at tailback but lack a game-breaking home-run hitter who can gain the edge. That's why it's so important they hang onto the commitment of Dalvin Cook, the nation's No. 4 RB prospect. Coaches presume he would have a role as a true freshman in 2014.

Defensive line: Florida is in good shape with 10 returning scholarship players. But Muschamp's multiple-scheme defense, which uses 4-3 and 3-4 alignments up front, puts a heavy emphasis on defensive linemen making plays and disrupting the opponent's offense. Florida has three commitments -- DT Khairi Clark, DE Taven Bryan and DE Justus Reed. Bryan could end up on offense, so the object of much of Muschamp's hard work on the recruiting trail is adding another difference-maker who can rush the passer.

Cornerback: The Gators graduated two cornerbacks and are losing Purifoy to the NFL. If he is joined by fellow starter Marcus Roberson, who is projected as a first-round pick in ESPN Insider Todd McShay's first mock draft, there will likely be immediate playing time available. That's Muschamp's sales pitch. It's also why Florida is trying to load up on DB prospects. The nation's No. 10 athlete, J.C. Jackson, is committed, as are Chris Lammons, Quincy Wilson and Duke Dawson. Wilson and Dawson could end up at safety, so Florida must close strong in adding at least one more pure cornerback with the talent to contribute right away. Florida hit the jackpot last year in signing All-SEC first-team CB Vernon Hargreaves III. Few prospects enter the college ranks as technically skilled and prepared as he, but the Gators are hoping another recruiting bounty will keep the pipeline of impact cornerbacks flowing.
ORLANDO -- The Florida High School Athletic Association's class 1A through 4A state championship games were played this weekend in Orlando, Fla. The games featured several prospects who are committed to top programs, as well as some uncommitted prospects. Here's a closer look at who had some of the best performances.

Some losses on the recruiting trail sting just as badly as a gut-wrenching defeat on the field.

Just ask the Michigan coaching staff after five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) selected Alabama over Michigan and Florida on Thursday.

Hand’s decision to head to the SEC won’t cause the Wolverines’ class to be labeled a failure; it is ranked as the nation’s seventh best. But with Michigan projected to be in the driver’s seat for almost all of Hand’s recruitment and with a significant need at the strongside defensive end spot, his decision to commit to the Tide is a crushing blow.


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Critical positions in SEC recruiting 

September, 3, 2013
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Each year college coaches prioritize their recruiting needs. Whether it's offensive or defensive linemen or skilled positions, there always seems to be an area that needs more attention than others. Here's a closer look at the most important position for each SEC team in recruiting this year.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: SEC 

August, 26, 2013
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Alabama continued its recruiting dominance by adding an ESPN 300 wide receiver and several SEC commits had huge games to start off the 2013 high school season. Here's a look at the biggest storylines over the weekend.


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Running back commit Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) has a message for any Gators fans who might be worried about his visit to Texas today -- follow the lead of Florida head coach Will Muschamp.


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Gators add ESPN 300 DE Justus Reed

July, 25, 2013
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Just one day before Florida's Friday Night Lights camp, the Gators picked up their second commit in as many days. Thursday night, ESPN 300 defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) gave his pledge to Florida head coach Will Muschamp.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pound athlete chose the Gators over offers from Florida State, Louisville, Ohio State and Miami among many others.

Reed, the No. 262-ranked player in the country, said he has always been a Florida fan.

"It's been my dream school since I was a little kid," Reed said. "I just felt it was right and the right time to do it. I feel really confident and happy about my decision. I just felt it was the right time to do it.

"Just being a Florida boy and growing up around here, there are a lot of people in my area that are big Florida State fans, but after Florida won those two national championships, I've been a really, really, really big fan of theirs and have always dreamed of playing there."

Reed said Muschamp was excited to learn of his decision.

"He was really excited -- he was happy for me," Reed said. "He said they were recruiting me as a defensive end/outside linebacker and all that. He told me he was really excited. He pretty much just welcomed me to the family."

As for what kind of player the Gators are getting, Reed said he will be a beast on the field.

"I'm fast, smart and I'm going to get a lot bigger," he said. "He told me before my freshman year I should be at 245, so I have to put on a lot of weight. I will be a good student off the field and a beast on the field."

If he does continue to add weight, he could be a force on the next level.

"Reed needs to keep filling out his frame but is a good DE prospect with the tools to be a productive college defender," his ESPN scouting report said. "With added size he can be a tough run defender and disruptive pass rusher."

The Gators now have 12 verbal commitments, including seven that are in the ESPN 300.
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.

[+] EnlargeDalvin Cook
Tom Hauck for Student SportsWorkhorse running back Dalvin Cook remains the Gators highest-ranked 2014 commit.
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.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators fans grumbled through a disappointing month of May, suffering through a couple of decommitments as Florida's 2014 class dropped in ESPN's rankings from No. 2 to No. 10.

But after a week-long summer camp loaded with talent and chocked with big-name visits, UF has firmly regained recruiting momentum and the faith of those frustrated fans.

The first day of the camp set the tone as the Gators got a commitment from ESPN 150 athlete J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee) less than a week after he decommitted from FSU. Three days later, Florida landed a pledge from DE Taven Bryan (Casper, Wyo./Natrona County).


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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- While bigger-name prospects come and go on unofficial visits to Florida's summer camp, 2014 defensive end Justus Reed (Clearwater, Fla./Central Catholic) stood out on Thursday by actually participating.

Reed showed up for the afternoon session, warmed up with a couple hundred other campers and did position drills under the watchful eyes of Florida head coach Will Muschamp and defensive line coach Brad Lawing.


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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Justus Reed (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) had himself quite a run in early May.

In the span of about 10 days, the defensive end prospect landed offers from Ohio State, Florida State, NC State, Cincinnati, Iowa State and Michigan State.


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