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Florida commits show faith in Muschamp

2/20/2012

The 2011 season wasn't kind to Florida head coach Will Muschamp. The Gators were assigned arguably the hardest schedule in the SEC and by the middle of October they were mentally and physically beaten down.

Although the season was somewhat salvaged with a Gator Bowl victory over Ohio State, a 7-6 record doesn't go over well in Gainesville and in order to improve that record it was clear that Florida needed better players.

Although Florida landed a top-five recruiting class and made major upgrades on the offensive line, defensive line and secondary, fans were only interested in the prospects that didn't come through. Tracy Howard, Nelson Agholor, Avery Young, Leonard Williams, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Stefon Diggs were all late misses and all seemed to have Florida out front at one point during their recruitment.

With Muschamp's ability to coach and close being questioned it was important for him to make a huge recruiting splash early in this cycle. Six verbal commitments during Saturday's junior day was the sort of statement that will ease some minds in Gainesville.

ESPNU 150 Watch list running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glades, Fla./Glades Day) was a must get. Besides filling a need at running back, Taylor is a legacy with his father, Fred, one of the most popular Gators of all time. Although the commitment of the 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior wasn't a huge shock, it was a big relief.

Taylor joins Winter Haven (Fla.) running back Adam Lane in this class and with incoming freshman Matt Jones and redshirt sophomore Mack Brown the Gators should finally have a full complement of running backs by the start of the 2013 season.

Lakewood (St. Petersburg, Fla.) wide receiver Rodney Adams fills another major need for the Gators -- playmaking wide receiver. Adams had 25 receptions for 742 yards and 10 touchdowns during his junior season.

The rest of the commitments were on the defensive side of the ball. Linebackers Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) and Dillon Lawson (Crestview, Fla./Crestview) give the program four linebackers in this class and the bodies needed to effectively run a 3-4. Powell and First Coast (Jacksonville, Fla.) linebacker Daniel McMillan, who committed to Florida earlier in the month, have superstar potential.

Watch List defensive back Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian) could be the top safety in the class and South Sumter (Bushnell, Fla.) safety Keanu Neal is a big, athletic, physical presence in the defensive backfield.