After three straight losses, there was little to make Florida happy. Blame flying from every direction and hitting whatever or whoever it landed on. You would be hard-pressed to find a Gator fan looking forward to the rest of the season. And with questions about how the slide would affect recruiting, future seasons as well. Then Florida got good news which was followed up with great news.
The good news came with the commitment of Clay Burton, who just happens to be the younger brother of fan favorite Trey Burton. (Why? WHY do parents insist on giving their children rhyming names???) The younger Burton also comes way of Venice (Venice, FL), but looks to excel on the other side of the ball. He is an outside linebacker who could be considered a pass rush threat.
Burton was originally committed to Notre Dame, but made the switch to Florida only a day after the Gators presented him with a scholarship offer. He always wanted to end up playing in orange and blue, but wasn’t sure that would happen as the offers continued to roll in except for that one he most coveted. Once the linebacker – who has totaled 14 sacks in his two most recent high school seasons – got the offer, the choice was easy. Head elsewhere or follow his brother to Gainesville?
The great news was delivered only a day later on Tuesday when Rivals100 member Mike Blakely became the latest piece of the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class. Florida has long wanted Blakely and his commitment was more than welcome. With a heavy running back rotation, talented newcomers are always on the desired list.
Blakely – from Manatee (Bradenton, FL) – is the nation’s #7 RB and #34 player overall according to Rivals.com. He chose the Gators over Auburn. The 5’9”, 195-pound back had numerous other offers, but many thought Florida to always be the favorite. As the Gators struggled, many got nervous, but Blakely ended up making the choice experts originally thought he would.
The agile back has surprising strength and has put together highlight after highlight during his senior season. He was one of the backs the Gators had at the top of their list and most likely the one they wanted the most. Fans shouldn’t have to wait long to find out how solid Blakely’s commitment is, he’s scheduled to enroll in January.
The news will only get better with a win over Georgia on Saturday. Although the Gators are on a mini-roll when it comes to recruiting, Florida needs to get out of the funk of the last few weeks. Recruits will continue to come and those already committed will stick around if they see the product the Gators put on the field is one they want to be a part of. Burton and Blakely are huge additions. Wins will bring more.
There are plenty of high-ranked, big-name prospects that have expressed their interest in Florida. Some will come regardless of the 2010 win-loss record. Some won’t. What the Gators do in the final five regular season games could be a major determining factor.