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Thursday, October 31, 2013
UF-UGA: Past and current recruiting wars

By Derek Tyson and Gerry Hamilton

Though Florida and Georgia have agreed not to host visitors for their annual showdown in Jacksonville, Fla., the game still remains as one of the most attractive games in the country for recruits to watch. The two schools have had some epic recruiting battles in the past and there are several ongoing contests. Here’s a closer look at five recent and five present recruiting battles between the two SEC East rivals.

Recent recruiting battles

LB Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes): Harvey-Clemons was the No. 17-ranked prospect in the country in 2012 and has made a big impact on the field for the Bulldogs. Despite missing a game this season, Harvey-Clemons is third on the team in tackles with 37. He also has 3.5 tackles for loss and four pass breakups.

OL Trenton Brown (Albany, Ga./Georgia Military College): Brown originally committed to Georgia but backed off his pledge in September of 2012. He eventually committed and signed with the Gators. This 6-foot-8, 350-pound lineman also had offers from Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Florida State and a host of other schools. Brown will be making his first career start at right tackle against Georgia on Saturday.

DE Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, Ga./Liberty Co.): The four-star defensive end chose Georgia over Alabama and Florida in one of the most intense recruiting battles over the last few years. At one point, all three of his final schools thought they were the team to beat for his services. Jenkins has made a huge impact on the field. This year, Jenkins has accounted for eight tackles for loss including three sacks. He also leads the team with 15 quarterback hurries.

DE Jermaine Cunningham (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson): The athletic defensive end from outside of Atlanta, had offers from Auburn, Georgia, Florida State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Cunningham had his most productive year at Florida in 2006 when he produced 64 tackles, including 12 for a loss and 6.5 sacks. A second team all-SEC selection in 2008 and 2009, Cunningham was a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft.

Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray grew up in Florida but chose Georgia.
QB Aaron Murray (Tampa, Fla./Plant): Rated as the No. 3 quarterback and No. 13 prospect overall in the 2009 class, Murray was a priority target for Gators coach Urban Meyer. Murray shocked many by spurning the home-state team and committing to Georgia in April of his junior season. Fittingly enough, Murray passed Tim Tebow for the SEC’s all-time leader in total offense two weeks ago and could pass Danny Wuerffel for the SEC’s all-time touchdown passes leader against Florida this weekend.

Current recruiting battles

OLB/DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross High): The five-star defender will choose Alabama, Georgia or Florida. Like current Georgia outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins, this is a recruitment in which all three programs have been talked about as being the favorite at some point in the last year. With an official visit to Florida in the rearview mirror, the question becomes can the Gators remain fresh in the Under Armour All-America’s mind with official visits to Georgia and Alabama remaining.

ILB Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County High): The five-star linebacker has long been though to be an Ohio State lean, but home-state Georgia and the school closest to home, Florida, have not given up. The 6-foot-2, 243-pound Under Armour All-America selection has already made official visits to Georgia on Sept. 27 and Ohio State on Oct. 26, and still has trips remaining to Alabama on Nov. 8, Clemson on Nov. 23 and the Gators on Nov. 29. If distance from home becomes a key deciding factor as signing day draws near, the Bulldogs’ and Gators’ chances certainly increase.

OT David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School): The 6-foot-6, 288-pound Sharpe was once considered to be a Florida lean with Georgia, Florida State, USC and others fighting to stay in the game. Georgia and Florida State are now said to be the top two with the Gators playing catchup. If there is cause for alarm with both SEC rivals, it’s the fact that Sharpe is making an official visit to Florida State this weekend for the Seminoles’ huge game against Miami instead of staying in town and attending the Georgia-Florida game even though neither teams host recruits. Sharpe has made unofficial visits to Athens and Gainesville this season, and still has official visits to both schools remaining.

DT Trenton Thompson (Albany, Ga./Westover High): The No. 5 overall prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been on the campuses of both Georgia and Florida in the last year. While many consider the Bulldogs the team to beat, the Gators have Thompson’s attention. The fact that the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Thompson didn’t commit to Georgia in June after attending Mark Richt’s camp have kept the keen interest of Florida, Florida State, Alabama, Auburn and others. Thompson has attended games at Florida State and Auburn this season.

OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, Fla.): The No. 6 overall prospect in the ESPN Junior 300 has been considered a lean to nearby Florida since his name hit the recruiting radar last season. Like Thompson, the fact that the 6-foot-6, 285-pound Ivey hasn’t committed to the Gators yet has kept the door wide open for Georgia and other programs hoping to steal him out of Central Florida. This is one of those prospects Florida simply can’t afford to lose. This weekend Ivey is scheduled to be in Tallahassee for the Seminoles’ showdown with Miami. He has been on campus in Gainesville a handful of times in the last year.