2014 Football Recruiting: The Florida Gators Look to Build on Strong Class as Summer Approaches

The 2012 football season has long been over. And now with the 2012-13 basketball season coming to an end as well, we turn our attention to football recruiting.

Will Grier - Florida Gators

2013 was kind to the Florida Gators, as the football team put together the type of recruiting class we’ve come to expect. 2014 should be no different and has already produced a group that forms a solid base to build upon.

Before we get knee deep in the entire world of recruiting, player rankings, video analysis, scouting reports and discussions of wants and needs, let’s take a quick look at what the Gators, Will Muschamp and the rest of the Florida coaching staff are working with at this point.

Will Grier, QB, Davidson Day (Davidson, NC) – Grier is not only one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation, but one of the top players overall. While the level of competition is a concern for some, Grier has the tools and talent to succeed at any level and in most systems. He may already be the Gators’ quarterback of the future.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Miami Central (Miami, FL) – Another Florida commit that is among both the top prospects at his position and overall is Cook. There are those already comparing Cook to former Gator great Percy Harvin, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s let Cook become the first Dalvin Cook and not put a label on him as the next Harvin before he is even assigned a locker. All of that said, Cook is an intriguing prospect that can be used in a variety of ways.

Ryeshene Bronson, WR, Dunbar (Ft. Myers, FL) – The Gators are constantly looking to reload at wide receiver. It doesn’t matter what the previous year may have brought, Florida will look for capable pass catchers in each class. Bronson is the first committed for 2014 and has enough height to get fans excited about his arrival. He’ll have to add some bulk to his frame before he can fully compete at the college level, but he should be a contributor once he learns the ropes.

Travaris Dorsey, OL, Raines (Jacksonville, FL) – Dorsey has been working hard to get himself in shape for his senior season and beyond. He’s a true guard and excels at the position. Dorsey has been working on his athleticism and has proven that he is more than just a big body. He will take visits over the summer and is still being recruited by North Carolina and Tennessee, but he remains solidly committed to Florida.

Benjamin Knox, OL, Deland (Deland, FL) – A tackle, Knox is where many high schoolers are at this point in their development. He has the height, but needs the bulk. He’ll have plenty of time to do just that and looks like he could contribute sometime around 2016. Knox has mentioned that an offer from the Gators was a dream and that he is solidly committed.

Joseph Paul, OL, St. Augustine (New Orleans, LA) – While Knox needs to bulk up, Paul–also a tackle–has the size to play at the college level today. He’ll need to develop his game and learn the intricacies of a college offense, but from a size standpoint, Paul has it. Paul was down to Florida and Texas and after picking the Gators has said that the recruiting process is over for him.

Anthony Moten, DL, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) – Do we like players from St. Thomas Aquinas? Yes we do. Thomas is listed as a defensive tackle even if he does has the frame of a defensive end at this point. That doesn’t mean he won’t play DT at the next level though. Moten is hoping a few others from south Florida will join him in Gainesville, among them cornerbacks Chris Lammons and Quincy Wilson.

Christian Miller, LB, Spring Valley (Columbia, SC) – A top-100 linebacker, Miller projects to play on the outside at the college level. He’s one of those that talks academics as much as he talks football and was looking for the right fit from both sides of the equation. Miller has mentioned that his focus will now shift to recruiting for the Gators, but he still may take visits for the experience.

Duke Dawson, DB, Dixie County (Cross City, FL) – Dawson, a cornerback, chose the Gators over in-state rival Florida State. Although much of his family cheers for the Seminoles, one cousin – 2013 Gators’ signee Marcell Harris – may have pushed him toward Florida. When Dawson committed, he mentioned the Gators had always held the lead, but that doesn’t mean the pressure from FSU will stop.

2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators NSD Ends With Two Commits

If you watched any portion of National Signing Day, you saw coverage dominated by late-risers in the recruiting rankings, as the likes of Alabama, Ole Miss, Ohio State, and others dominated the late NSD decisions.

You didn’t see as much from the Florida Gators (The number 1 recruiting class on ESPN at the beginning of the broadcast) as you thought you would have. And, despite the fact that many of you would categorize that as “Boring,” it doesn’t necessarily suggest anything to make the Gators’ recruiting class anything less than great.

Let’s look at the Gators’ commitments on National Signing Day. Will Muschamp’s day started well with defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick from Port Saint Lucie, Florida near Miami. The Gators won this battle against mainly Miami and Alabama.

Below is Bostwick’s commitment. Listen to the interview after if you don’t think that playing in the SEC impacts some of these recruits.

In Bostwick, Florida gets a somewhat raw defensive tackle who has only been playing football for a few years. At 280 pounds, Bostwick already has some of the size needed to be a DT in the NFL, and the next few years will be spent building more muscle (Jeff Dillman), while adding technique (Bryant Young).

And here are some highlights from Bostwick’s junior year:

While many of Florida’s commitments were sending in their LOIs, there was a rumor that Tashawn Bower, an Auburn commit had sent his LOI to the Gators. He was widely thought by many to be headed to either Auburn or Florida, but in the end, none of those rumors proved to be true. And, well, Bower chose LSU.

The next news for the Gators came in the afternoon when another DT, this time a JUCO from East Mississippi Community College, Jarran Reed picked the Gators over Ole Miss and Alabama. EMCC continues to be very good to the Gators, where Florida gets DTs Reed and Darious Cummings this year, and where they got immediate-impact Damien Jacobs from last year.

After National Signing Day, the Florida Gators signed the No. 2 punter in the nation Ryan Townsend, who had been previously committed to Ohio State. And not long before that, OL/TE Trevon Young determined that he wished to be a Gator when he decided against a scholarship offer to play basketball, his true passion, at Eckerd College. Young is VERY raw, so we’ll see how his development at Florida goes.

The Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, should end up at a final number of 30, the most in school history. But the Gators didn’t just add depth for no reason. With recruits at nearly ever position on the team, the Gators filled their needs well with talent that could serve as a building block for future Will Muschamp teams. Though time will tell, this years recruiting class looks like it could end up being one of the bests in school history.

2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Part Ways With LB James Hearns

The Florida Gators have cut ties with linebacker and now former commit James Hearns. Hearns – a four-star LB from Lincoln (Tallahassee, FL) was one of the first members of the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class. Florida has pulled his scholarship offer due to concerns over whether Hearns will be able to qualify academically.

James Hearns

Hearns expressed no ill will toward the Gators, simply stating that it was time for both sides to move on. The Florida coaching staff was concerned with his academic record and Hearns was hoping to look at a few other schools before National Signing Day as it is. He got the call from newly appointed defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, letting him know that he wouldn’t be a part of the Gators’ class.

Hearns is currently visiting a Florida SEC rival–Kentucky–and seems to favor the Wildcats. He’s also considering visiting either Houston, South Carolina or Washington over the last weekend before NSD.

Durkin and head coach Will Muschamp will now turn their focus to Mainland (Daytona Beach, FL) linebacker Quinton Powell. Powell, you will remember, was also a member of Florida’s 2013 class until recently.

2014 Football Recruiting: Duke Dawson Commits To Florida Gators; CB Pulls The Switch

Dixie County (Cross City, FL) cornerback Duke Dawson has made his college choice and it’s very good news for the Florida Gators. On Tuesday, the 2014 recruit committed to the Gators over the Florida State Seminoles after pulling the wardrobe switch. Dawson arrived at his announcement decked out in ‘Noles gear, only to pull off an FSU shirt to reveal a Florida one.

Duke Dawson - Florida Gators

I’ve never been a huge fan of the clothing or hat switch, but Dawson’s situation seemed to be more of a playful joke between him and his family. With the exception of his cousin–2013 Florida commit Marcell Harris–Dawson’s entire family is made up of FSU fans. This was probably just a playful jab at the family before he made his true choice known.

The decision wasn’t necessarily an easy one for Dawson, but being able to play with Harris weighed heavily. Dawson also mentioned his relationship with Gators’ head coach Will Muschamp and academics as draws for him.

There is plenty of time left before Dawson signs his letter of intent, but, for now, he seems confident he has made the right choice.

2014 Football Recruiting: Duke Dawson Commits To Florida Gators; CB Pulls The Switch

Dixie County (Cross City, FL) cornerback Duke Dawson has made his college choice and it’s very good news for the Florida Gators. On Tuesday, the 2014 recruit committed to the Gators over the Florida State Seminoles after pulling the wardrobe switch. Dawson arrived at his announcement decked out in ‘Noles gear, only to pull off an FSU shirt to reveal a Florida one.

Duke Dawson - Florida Gators

I’ve never been a huge fan of the clothing or hat switch, but Dawson’s situation seemed to be more of a playful joke between him and his family. With the exception of his cousin–2013 Florida commit Marcell Harris–Dawson’s entire family is made up of FSU fans. This was probably just a playful jab at the family before he made his true choice known.

The decision wasn’t necessarily an easy one for Dawson, but being able to play with Harris weighed heavily. Dawson also mentioned his relationship with Gators’ head coach Will Muschamp and academics as draws for him.

There is plenty of time left before Dawson signs his letter of intent, but, for now, he seems confident he has made the right choice.

2013 Football Recruiting: Caleb Brantley, Demarcus Robinson Recommit; Florida Gators (Re)Add DT, WR

Sometimes you just have to be patient. And sometimes your patience only has to last a very, very short time. After decommitting from the Florida Gators in recent weeks, both Caleb Brantley and Demarcus Robinson are back. The defensive tackle and wide receiver have both decided that once again they wish to be a part of the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class.

Brantley’s decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Many thought that there was a good chance the defensive tackle would rejoin the class despite his recent decommitment. After speaking to the Florida coaches, Brantley came back around, realizing there was no better option than the Gators (a good decision on his part). He claims that this is it and he will make no other visits.

In addition to Brantley, the Gators also welcomed back wide receiver Demarcus Robinson. Robinson had been back and forth between Clemson and Florida for quite some time, but made it clear it would be the Gators in the end. Very clear. He will enroll early, making him as solid as solid gets.*

The two boost (or reboost I suppose) Florida’s class and give the Gators two talented prospects at positions of need. The Gators are now ranked No. 3 according to Rivals and No. 5 according to 247Sports in the sites’ team rankings.

*I, of course, reserve the right to renege on that statement if anything at all happens to Robinson over the course of his career.

2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Lose Caleb Brantley; DT Decommits Via Text Message

Never considered the most solid of commitments, defensive tackle Caleb Brantley is no longer one at all. On Tuesday, the Crescent City, FL (Crescent City) DT informed the Florida Gators via text message that he was decommitting. Although now technically a free agent, there are many that believe this might not be the end of Brantley and the Gators.

Caleb Brantley - Florida Gators

Brantley announced via his Twitter account that he had texted his decommitment to Florida coaches ($). How’s that for technology? Why pick up the phone and talk to anyone when you can just send of a quick text and then tell the world via a social network?

While Brantley had been committed to the Gators for quite some time, he had always maintained that he would take other visits. Even so, he appeared to enjoy the fact that he was committed to the orange and blue. It is rumored that he wants to play with current Florida State committ Ira Denson–someone Florida has yet to extend an offer to. Others believe that Brantley is just enjoying the ride of the recruiting process and could commit and decommit and commit again before all is said and done.

2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Lose Demarcus Robinson; WR Back To Clemson

Demarcus Robinson has gone back to where he came from. The talented wide receiver’s commitment to the Florida Gators was short-lived, as Robinson found his way back to Clemson on Monday.

Robinson was initially committed to the Tigers, but an upcoming visit to Gainesville set various rumors on their course. Before he even made the visit, Robinson met with Gators’ coaches and decided Florida was the place for him. Not even a week later, he no longer believes that is the case. Robinson is back with Clemson.

With Robinson, the Gators were happy with their wide receiver class. He joined Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey, Chris Thompson and Marqui Hawkins. Without him, Florida is still pleased, but true joy may have come in sheer numbers at the position. Don’t be surprised if the Gators continue to look for a wide receiver to add to the class. And don’t be surprised if Robinson isn’t entirely done with his recruitment yet.

2013 Football Recruiting: Jarrad Davis Flips From Auburn To Florida; Gators Add OLB

Over the last week, the Florida Gators are up one outside linebacker. Last weekend, the Gators added Matt Rolin, but lost Quinton Powell. This past weekend, Florida went back on the positive side, getting Jarrad Davis to switch his commitment from Auburn to Florida.

Davis comes in a mold similar to Powell’s. He is an athletic linebacker that will need to fill out before making an impact at the next level. 247Sports lists him as the No. 30 OLB in the 2013 recruiting class. He has steadily moved up that ranking as he was at one point down at No. 59.

Davis comes to Florida from Kingsland, GA (Camden County) and is regarded as the final linebacker the Gators will take.

2013 Football Recruiting: WR Demarcus Robinson Flips To Florida Gators

The recruiting train hasn’t stopped for the Florida Gators. On Wednesday, four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson flipped his commitment from Clemson to Florida and instantly became one of the most important members of the 2013 recruiting class. With reports that Robinson may visit Gainesville as early as this upcoming weekend, a commitment–if coming–wasn’t expected until after that time. Robinson surprised many by making that commitment after Gators’ coaches visited him at his home.

Demarcus Robinson - Florida Gators

The 6’1.5″, 196-pound Robinson comes to the Gators from Fort Valley, GA (Peach County) and joins an already impressive wide receiver class. He joins Ahmad Fulwood, Alvin Bailey, Chris Thompson and Marqui Hawkins to give Florida five commits at the position. That number means the Gators are most likely done at WR, but have added great depth to a unit they’re looking to redefine.

Robinson’s flip from Clemson is also a satisfying one. Those of us living in the state of Florida who also complete the ideal double of being Gators’ fans have tired of Clemson over the years. There have been recruits that appeared destined for Florida. Ones that fit systems perfectly and could get immediate playing time. They excited us as prospects and Florida seemed in great position to get many of them. Then something happened and they headed to Clemson. Many had good careers and that made us feel worse. While Robinson is from the state of Georgia, his switch is still immensely satisfying. We like. We like very much.

247Sports ranks Robinson as the No. 183 prospect overall and No. 22 wide receiver.