NCF On The Trail: Keanu Neal

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Most of the attention has been on the five receivers Florida signed on Wednesday.

But the Gators had a pretty good haul in the secondary, too.

UF signed four defensive backs, including the nation’s No. 3 overall player in CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton), on Wednesday. But more importantly, those players were committed to UF as early as last February and never wavered.

Signing day primer: Florida 

January, 23, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There are just a couple of short weeks remaining until national signing day, and the Florida Gators have met a majority of their recruiting needs. With graduation, transfers and players leaving for the NFL draft, there are a few areas Florida head coach Will Muschamp would still like to shore up.

Key holes to fill

The Gators lost key personnel along the offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, running back and secondary and are hoping to replenish their talent with junior college transfers and incoming freshmen.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida lost defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday. Quinn helped orchestrate one of the best defensive line units in the SEC last season and was a big reason Florida has landed commitments from nine defensive players that are ranked in the ESPN 300.

Here is how some of those recruits reacted the new of Quinn's departure:

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Hackenberg, Olsen earn UA Game starts

January, 3, 2013
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Black Team offense

Quarterback: Christian Hackenberg (Penn State)

Running back: Alvin Kamara

Receiver: Alvin Bailey (Florida), Robert Foster (Alabama), Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington)

Tight end: O.J. Howard (Alabama)

Offensive tackle: Darius James (Texas), Denver Kirkland

Offensive guard: Grant Hill (Alabama), Joas Aguilar (Texas A&M)

Center: Hunter Bivin (Notre Dame)

Captains: Kelvin Taylor, Hunter Bivin, Robert Nkemdiche, Ben Boulware

Black Team defense

Defensive end: Robert Nkemdiche, Elijah Daniel

Defensive tackle: Greg Gilgmore (LSU), Kennedy Tulimasealii (Hawaii)

Inside linebacker: Ben Boulware (Clemson)

Outside linebacker: Alex Anzalone (Notre Dame), Matthew Thomas

Safety: Keanu Neal (Florida), Leon McQuay III

Cornerback: Vernon Hargreaves III (Florida), Tarean Folston (Notre Dame)

Black Team special teams

Long snapper: Tyler Kluver (Iowa)

Kicker/punter: Sean Covington (UCLA)

White Team offense

Quarterback: Kevin Olsen (Miami)

Running back: Keith Ford (Oklahoma)

Receiver: Laquon Treadwell, Ryan Green (Florida State), Jalin Marshall (Ohio State)

Tight end: Hunter Henry (Arkansas)

Offensive tackle: Derwin Gray (Maryland), Dorian Johnson (Pittsburgh)

Offensive guard: Patrick Kugler (Michigan), David Dawson (Michigan)

Center: Scott Quessenberry (UCLA)

White Team defense

Defensive end: Carl Lawson (Auburn), Joey Bosa (Ohio State)

Defensive tackle: Henry Poggi (Michigan), Kelsey Griffin (South Carolina)

Inside linebacker: Reuben Foster, Yannick Ngakoue

Outside linebacker: Trey Johnson

Safety: Max Redfield, Antonio Conner

Cornerback: Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Shaq Wiggins (Georgia)

White Team special teams

Long snapper: Brendan Turelli

Kicker: Ryan Santoso (Minnesota)

Punter: Shane Tripucka

Captains: Ryan Green, Hunter Henry, Patrick Kugler, Reuben Foster

Florida weekend visitor preview 

December, 6, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida is hosting its annual football banquet this weekend and as usual it will use this time to bring in several recruits. With Florida having a majority of its class already filled, most of the visitors will be committed players or underclassmen.

Quinton Powell
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSFlorida hopes to reaffirm the commitment of linebacker Quinton Powell on his official visit to the school this weekend.
Linebacker commits Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) and Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) have been looking around. Powell wants to take visits to USC and Miami (Fla), while McMillian has visited Ohio State recently. Both players will be officially visiting Florida this weekend. Florida will try and reaffirm McMillian's and Powell's commitments.

Powell said he's excited to be around the other Florida commits.

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Hargreaves, Taylor jump up in ESPN 150 

November, 7, 2012
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With 20 verbal commitments, the Florida Gators continue to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. In the updated ESPN 150/300 rankings, Florida has an impressive 13 players listed, including nine in the top 150.

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida's only five-star commitment, continues to lead the way for Florida's No. 2-ranked class. Hargreaves, now the No. 3-ranked player in the country, jumped offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil in the latest update.


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Scouts: Hargreaves is ready now 

July, 26, 2012
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Florida strikes big in-state with the top corner in this class and a guy we feel will be able to step in immediately and help Will Muschamp and the Gators defense. Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton) joins four-star corner Tre’ Bell (Jersey City, N.J./St. Peter's) and ESPNU 150 safeties Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) and Keanu Neal (Bushnell, Fla./South Sumter) to give UF a very talented secondary headed to Gainesville in 2013. It was a unit in need of talented young prospects, particularly on the perimeter, and couldn’t have been filled any better than with Hargreaves III, a coach’s son with polished technique and rare natural ability.

It is very difficult to find projected college corners who actually play the position fulltime in high school and possess a vast understanding of both zone and man concepts with the talent to execute them at a premier level. Hargreaves III is that kind of prospect. He has very good speed, great closing burst and range at the position in a well-built frame that is deceptively stronger than it appears, especially when it comes to functional strength; jamming, pressing and supporting the run. Extremely quick to recover, fluid in his change-of-direction and athletic in his ability to play the ball in the air, it will be difficult for Muschamp to keep this young shut-down corner off the field as a true freshman. It’s a position that can hold back even the most talented high school corner prospects from making an impact early at the BCS level due to the learning curve and technique required to succeed at the position, but Hargreaves is ready.

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BRADENTON, Fla. -- Four-star safety prospect Marcell Harris (Orlando, Fla./Dr. Phillips) might be a Florida legacy, but the Under Armour All-American is sick of hearing that he should follow in his dad's footsteps. His father, Mike Harris, played safety at Florida in the mid 90s, but the younger Harris might decide to pave his own career path.

Marcell Harris
Derek Tyson/ESPN.comMarcell Harris is rated the No. 7 safety in the nation and the No. 68 overall player in the ESPN 150.
"It all comes with him being a top athlete in his day," Harris said, "but it gets kind of weary in my mind because I'm my own man and I make my own decisions, and now that I'm older it's all about my decision and where I want to go."

Harris, who was a standout for team Top Recruits at the IMG Madden 7-on-7 National Championship tournament, was teammates with Florida safety commit Keanu Neal (Bushnell, Fla./South Sumter) at the event. Neal says he can sense the frustration with his talented teammate.

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