Florida Gators Recruiting: The Ups and Downs of National Signing Day

As seems to be the case every year, there were ups and downs for the Florida Gators on National Signing Day. At final count, the Gators added two (three if you count Andrew Mike the night before, and I do), reaffirmed one, saw two choose other schools, lost no one already committed, and had a current player announce his intention to transfer.

Treon Harris, Florida Gators

That’s not a bad day by any means. Actually, it’s a quite good one. No Florida commit flipped, while the Gators got a Florida State commit to do just that. When you gain two (or three) and lose no one, you’re ahead. Unfortunately, the last announcement that really meant something for Florida didn’t go the Gators’ way. Adoree’ Jackson signed with Southern Cal and in doing so proved to one side of the Florida fanbase that head coach Will Muschamp has no idea what he’s doing.

That’s the side that refused to acknowledge anything good that happened leading up to NSD or on the day itself and only focused on one player that got away and how it must be Muschamp’s fault. I’m sure I’ll be called a Muschamp supporter for even bringing it up, but so be it I guess. Maybe one day those fans will be able to find a silver lining in, well, anything. For now, I’m not a Muschamp supporter, but I’m not running him out of town either. He’s the coach whether any of us like it or not. Instead, I’m focusing on where the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class ended up, and all things considered it was a good one.

1. Florida lost no one. The Gators didn’t lose Adoree’ Jackson because they never had him. Florida also didn’t lose Derrick Kelly Jr. because, again, they didn’t have him. Both players would have been welcome additions to the class, but both signed elsewhere—Jackson to USC and Kelly Jr. to FSU. Jackson’s loss was a big one as the dynamic playmaker could have made an immediate impact and Kelly Jr. would have provided depth along the offensive line. Both went elsewhere; move on.

2. The Gators started a day early, getting offensive lineman Andrew Mike to flip to Florida from Vanderbilt. Mike needs to add a great deal of bulk, but bringing aboard a sixth offensive line commit was crucial. Depth across the line is one of the Gators’ biggest needs.

3. Of course Quincy Wilson was the first to fax in his signed Letter of Intent. Has there been a commit more positive about all things Florida during the recruiting process? No, there hasn’t.

4. For the last few weeks, many considered J.C. Jackson to be a goner. FSU and Miami pushed the defensive back up until the last minute. In the end, Florida won out and Jackson stuck with his commitment. This may have been as big of a get for the Gators as anyone on NSD.

5. When C.J. Worton decommitted from FSU most expected him to sign with Florida. He did. Go Gators!

6. The flip of the day, at least where the state of Florida is concerned. Treon Harris had been rumored to be seriously considering making the switch from the Seminoles to the Gators on NSD. He pulled the trigger and he, Florida, the staff, and fans couldn’t be happier. New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper got his man.

7. Not exactly recruiting news, Cody Riggs will transfer. It relates in that it frees up a roster spot, but for who? Riggs wanted to player cornerback; coaches wanted him to play safety. He will search for a program where he can play at his position of choice.

The 2014 recruiting cycle was a busy one like all of the others. It had its ups and its downs and we won’t know how good this class truly is for years. In the meantime, on to 2015 recruiting!

Hoping to Play Cornerback, Cody Riggs Will Transfer from Florida

Later today, Florida head coach Will Muschamp will announce the transfer of Cody Riggs. Riggs started 12 games at safety, but hopes to return to his natural position of cornerback.

Cody Riggs, Florida Gators

Riggs spent his first three seasons at Florida at cornerback. He played in 26 games, starting 13, over the course of the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Riggs was improving and looking forward to a successful 2012 campaign when he injured his foot and took a redshirt. He was moved to safety for the 2013 and started all 12 games, finishing with 51 tackles

Riggs will have one season of eligibility remaining. There is no word on where he will transfer, but immediately playing time at cornerback will be the determining factor. Riggs ends his Florida career having appeared in 40 games, starting 26.

Florida Gators Set Depth Chart For First Game Of 2012 Football Season

Be afraid Bowling Green. Fear the two-headed quarterback monster that is coming your way. Or go about your day in a regular fashion because not you, us, or even the Florida Gators seem to know what will work heading into the 2012 season.

On Monday, the Gators released their depth chart for that first game against the Falcons and it doesn’t answer many questions. We’re not surprised and you shouldn’t be either that it contains four “OR” entries; even if it is only one of those we’re all really focusing in on – Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel. It hasn’t reached the level of debate of those two teenage vampires in those movies (was one not a vampire?), but Team Brissett and Team Driskel have picked their sides and are ready to see how the season plays out. Enough talk, it’s time to see how these two perform.

The other “OR” position battles won’t get headlines, but could be vital to the outcome of the first few games. Backing up Frankie Hammond Jr. at the X wide receiver spot is either true freshman Latroy Pittman or superstar-in-waiting (is this the year?) Andre Debose. We have to think that’s just to get both on the two-deep depth chart. Realistically, they are different receivers and Debose could see plenty of time as a deep threat while Pittman has already proved himself as a tough WR willing to do the dirty work.

The other position(s) up for grabs are both cornerback spots. It’s a four-man battle between Loucheiz Purifoy, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins. Purifoy is the only one without extensive experience, but has become something of a practice and workout legend during the offseason and has definitely implanted himself into the rotation. All four will play and we may see that rotation deep into the season to keep all the corners fresh.

So there’s the depth chart, mere days away from the first game of the 2012 season. Two quarterbacks – as we knew – and not a lot of surprises (if any).

Confidence Could Be Loucheiz Purifoy’s Biggest Asset

The position battle at cornerback may be one of the most open on the Florida Gators roster. There’s experience, youth and youth with experience, but anyone could steal playing time at any moment.

Here’s the rundown of the returning cornerbacks that were on the roster in 2011:

Jeremy Brown, RJR, 0 games, 0 starts*
Loucheiz Purifoy, FR, 13 games, 0 starts
Cody Riggs, SO, 13 games, 10 starts
Marcus Roberson, FR, 10 games, 10 starts
Jaylen Watkins, SO, 13 games, 8 starts

*Brown received a medical redshirt in 2011 and will be a redshirt junior again in 2012. He appeared in 11 games and started 10 in 2010.

You can ask just about anyone and they will tell you Roberson will occupy one side during the 2012 season. Although his play was shaky at times during his freshman season in 2011, he is the most talented corner on the roster and should excel in 2012 with a better grasp of the defense.

The other side is up for grabs. The Gators aren’t sure what they have in Brown. Injured for much of his career, Brown is a talented player that just can’t stay healthy. Both Riggs and Watkins have gained experience while playing plenty, but neither is seen as a lock opposite Roberson and both may be better suited for the nickel back role. Then you have Purifoy.

A special teams standout in 2011, Purifoy was held back by a hamstring injury and didn’t get a chance to earn playing time in the secondary early. As the season progressed, opportunities increased and now he finds himself with a great chance to earn a starting nod. Of all the talents Purifoy possesses – speed being a big one – his confidence may be the most important.

A cornerback has to be cocky to a certain extent. Let’s be honest, all athletes have to be, but Purifoy plays one of those positions where you specifically are targeted. Not only is a quarterback throwing to a wide receiver, he’s throwing at you. He’s daring you to make a play. That doesn’t faze Purifoy and could be one of the key reasons why he could be lined up on the field for the opening snap of the 2012 season.

Florida needs help at a number of positions and cornerback is one. Purifoy has pushed Riggs and Watkins and will get pushed by incoming freshman Brian Poole. Anyone could come out on top, but the new No. 15 is making his case and doing it well.

The Defense: Florida Gators 39 – UAB Blazers 0

You’ve read about the offensive performance in the 39-0 win over UAB,now on to how the Florida defensedid.

On November 18, 2006, Florida defeated Western Carolina 62-0. It was the last time the Gators’ defenseshut out an opponent. In the nearly five years since then, Florida has won twonational titles, gone 13-1 three times, and seen a coaching change. That lastone brought some changes to the defense, which was expected the minute Will Muschamp was announced as the nexthead coach. So far, so good. After a 39-0 win over UAB, Florida’s defense hasnow accumulated the following impressive statistics: 3 total points allowed,349 total yards allowed, 3.2 yards per play allowed, only three third-downconversions allowed in 23 attempts, and only allowed opposing offenses into thered zone twice. Again, so far, so good.
The biggest story of the defensive line early in the 2011season has been the absence of defensive end/tackle Sharrif Floyd. The all-world recruit had a bumpy start to hisFlorida career, but started to come on toward the end of the 2010 season.Expected to be a key part of the Gators’ defense this season, Floyd missed thefirst two games for “violating” NCAArules. If he had to miss any games, these are the two you would probably want,but his absence was more evident against UAB than it was against FAU. Againstthe Owls, the defensive line totaled six and a half tackles for loss. Againstthe Blazers, two. Against FAU, two sacks. Against UAB, none. That’s not to sayFloyd makes all the difference in the world, but he certainly will make some.This is a very talented defensive line that needs to stop the run and putpressure on the quarterback. With the players the Gators have on the roster,pressure should come easily against lesser opponents. Against SEC offensivelines it will be harder to come by. Floyd’s return could spark something.Scratch that; Floyd’s return needs to spark something. The defensive line hasplayed well, but has yet to be dominant. Sooner or later, they will need to be.
The linebackers were in a similar situation as the defensiveline and finished with only one tackle for loss after totaling three againstFAU. The Gators were led by Jon Bosticwho had five total tackles and is quickly becoming a leader on the field.Bostic is a hard hitter who nearly destroyed a Blazer or two, but they droppedpasses right before getting to him (which was very good for them, very good).Tackle numbers aren’t all that impressive yet for the linebackers, but that’sbecause Florida was still in a heavy rotation. Due to that, you won’t seeanyone with 10+ tackles just yet, but you will get to see plenty of field timefor the backups. Two to continue to watch are Darrin Kitchens and MichaelTaylor who have looked good in limited time. Overall, the linebackers arevisible again and that’s a great thing.
At times, coverage was a little soft and allowed UAB toconvert some nice plays. It was a bend, don’t break zone being run by theGators’ secondary that allowed the Blazers to put a nice play or two together;however, Florida only allowed 141 yards and didn’t allow a pass completion oflonger than 24 yards (not counting the UAB touchdown that was called back dueto penalty). The secondary is playing good enough, but still needs all of thepositions locked down. The starters in this one (yes, there were five) were Matt Elam, Josh Evans, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson and De’Ante Saunders. Elam and Robersonseem to be the mainstays and both played well. Elam forced a fumble andRoberson recovered one – the Gators only forced turnover so far this season –but the other positions are still up in the air. A lot of players have had goodmoments, but a lot have also had struggles. On the plus side, the struggles havebeen minimal. The coaching staff will surely be watching tape all weekend todetermine who will get the most time against Tennessee.
Like the offense, the defense is a work in progress and sofar we should all choose to be happy. After two games, the Gators have given upthree points. After two in 2010, that was 26 points. In 2009, nine. 2008, 13.2007, 34 (including 31 to Troy).2006, 7. You get the point. And just in case you don’t, the last time Floridaallowed three or less total points in their first two games: 1933 after a 28-0win over Stetson and a 31-0 victoryover Sewanee (Side Historical Note: The Gators would post shut outs in their nexttwo games that season as well).
Offense and defensedown. Special teams and final thoughts to come.

Florida Gators Defensive Backs – 2010 vs. 2011

The Bull Gator and I finish up the defense. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, defensive line, linebackers.
2010: Ahmad Black – SR, Moses Jenkins – RJR, Will Hill – JR, Janoris Jenkins – JR, Jeremy Brown – RSO, Josh Evans – SO, Matt Elam – FR, Cody Riggs – FR, Josh Shaw – FR, Jaylen Watkins – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: C
Although I believe that the potential was there for them to be an above-average group, when looking back on the defensive backfield for the Gators in 2010, I decided to give the unit an overall grade of C. But really you could look at this unit as a tale of two stories with one half of the unit being outstanding and the other half being downright pitiful.
First, let’s start with the good, namely safety Ahmad Black and cornerback Janoris Jenkins. To say that these two guys deserve a grade of A would be an understatement as to how good they really were. Black had the most tackles on the team (108), the most interceptions (5), the most forced fumbles (3) and the most fumble recoveries (2). He also had twice as many unassisted tackles (73) than all but one other Gator (Jelani Jenkins – 41). Not to mention the leadership that he provided both on the field and in the locker room truly was immeasurable.
In 2008, the Gators won the national championship thanks in part to a freshman CB who found his way into the starting lineup on day 1 of the season and never looked back. By doing so, Janoris Jenkins became just the second true freshman in school history to start at CB on opening day. The stats for Janoris in 2010 may not be that overwhelming: 44 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 3 interceptions and 1 sack, but his presence on the field made the entire defense better. Opposing quarterbacks were hesitant to go to his side of the field, and more often than not, when they did he was there to make a big play.
Then you have the other guys. The combination of Will Hill and Josh Evans at the other safety position left much to be desired. I could go on-and-on about just how disappointing of a season/career Hill had, but I think we have all been down that road before. And the revolving door of Moses Jenkins, Jeremy Brown and Cody Riggs at the cornerback position opposite of Janoris (for the most part) was, to be nice, less than stellar.
With that said, we did see glimpses of hope in 2010, including Brown, Riggs and Matt Elam showing that they have the potential to be stars for the Gators somewhere down the line, but for the most part, when one half of your defensive backfield fails to live up to the hype while the other half struggles to make up for their teammates’ mistakes, you know you are in for a rough year.
2011: Moses Jenkins – RSR, Jeremy Brown – RJR, Josh Evans – JR, Matt Elam – SO, Cody Riggs – SO, Jaylen Watkins – SO, Josh Shaw – RFR, Jabari Gorman – FR, Chris Johnson – FR, Loucheiz Purifoy – FR, Marcus Roberson – FR, De’Ante Saunders – FR, Valdez Showers – FR
Preseason Rating: C
If you would of told me a few months/years ago that starting in 2011, the defensive backfield of UF would be Janoris Jenkins, Will Hill, Matt Elam and a second cornerback of your choosing, I probably would have said, “sign me up!” Unfortunately that won’t be the case for two major reasons. First, Hill thought he was going to get drafted into the NFL. Well, he didn’t. But this actually might be a positive for the Gators given Hill’s lack of production on the field. And second, Jenkins really liked to smoke pot. I mean really liked to! Therefore, he will have to finish his college career in the beautiful city of Florence. No, not that Florence, but the one in northern Alabama.
So what are we left with? Well, if you ask me (which you didn’t), I say we are left with a group of guys who have yet to prove themselves on the collegiate level, but who have all the talent in the world to be great players.
At the safety position, Elam is the only guy at this point that I can say is definitely a starter. I think Elam will have a great season, but I am really basing that more on hearsay and hopes than on actual on-the-field production. The other safety position is up for grabs right now. Some think that it’s Evans’ spot to lose. Others believe that Josh Shaw or Jaylen Watkins may sneak up and take the position. And recently, there have been discussions of De’Ante “Pop” Saunders moving from cornerback to safety in order to lock down that spot. Unfortunately all of these guys have fairly limited (or no) playing time at the college level and therefore the second safety spot could be a significant point of weakness for the Gators’ defense in 2011.
As far as cornerback is concerned, I have been shouting from the rooftops one name these past couple of months and I’m not going to stop now: Marcus Roberson!!! Look for Roberson to join Joe Haden and the aforementioned Janoris Jenkins as freshmen starters at the cornerback position for the Gators. Roberson may struggle in the beginning, but he will be very good, very soon. The second CB position has the chance to be reminiscent of last year in which there are a couple of guys rotating in and out at that position. Guys like Brown, Riggs, Moses Jenkins and freshman Loucheiz Puriofy all have a chance to play at that spot and could be called on periodically throughout the season to step up.
To grade the defensive backfield going into this season is almost impossible to do. There are too many variables, too many open spots still, and too many guys with talent but no experience. I truly think that we could look back a few months from now and easily give this unit an A and just as easily give this unit a F. But with the former defensive back Will Muschamp at the helm teaching these guys on a day-in and day-out basis, I think we might all be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

Florida Gators 38 – USF Bulls 14

The big day has come and gone.  Florida and USF in The Swamp.  The game I’ve been waiting for since the two schools announced they would be playing each other.  It was pretty much as expected I would think and now we have five seasons to wait until the Gators and Bulls meet up again.

I’m putting this piece together while I watch Breakfast with the Gators, naturally.  Mrs. TBG loves college football, but she still doesn’t quite understand watching games twice.  Luckily the Sunday paper is bigger than usual and gives her something to do while I occupy the television.
For nearly two and a half quarters on Saturday, the games was exactly what USF wanted and might just have been Florida’s worst nightmare.  The Bulls were in the game a lot longer than the final score would indicate.  Up 7-0 deep into the first half.  Tied 7-7 halfway through the third quarter.  It was what the Bulls wanted.  To stay in the game against a top-10 team in one of the harshest environments in the nation.
For the Gators, it was the exact opposite.  An up-and-down offense and a defense that couldn’t do much against the run.  Luckily for Florida, the pass defense was stellar and continued to force USF’s B.J. Daniels into making a number of bad decisions.
At the 7:24 mark of the third quarter, the tide shifted as the Bulls would experience four minutes and 52 seconds of hell.  At that moment, Jeff Demps crossed the goal line after a spectacular 62-yard run that proved once again that he’s faster, shiftier, and better than anyone you know.  It would end with 2:32 left in the third when Justin Trattou reached the end zone, rumbling 35 yards after intercepting Daniels.  In the middle, Mike Gillislee punched in a touchdown from four yards out.  Four minutes and 52 seconds.  21 points for the Gators.  What was a tie quickly became a three-touchdown lead for Florida.
USF would score just over two minutes after the Trattou touchdown, but that was it for the Bulls.  Florida would add 10 more points in the final frame to finish off USF 38-14.
Before getting into the Florida-side of the game, let’s look at some of USF’s positives.  Yes, there were some.  First of all, the Bulls ran the ball well.  After the first game of the season, the Gators run defense looked like it would be a strength in 2010.  It may still be, but USF did a number of good things on the ground throughout the game.  The Bulls finished with 244 yards and ran for 6.3 yards per carry.  They say if you control the run game, you have a great chance to come away with the victory.  Early in the game, that was the case.  The problem was that second half.  Despite the Bulls great day on the ground, the Gators were better.  251 yards, 6.8 yards per carry.
Still, USF looked good on the ground against a team with a heavy rotation of defensive linemen and linebackers.  They came into The Swamp and ran well.  But they also may have done something Skip Holtz has not wanted to do since he became the head coach.  Daniels ran the ball 17 times for 107 yards.  That’s a good day.  A great day for a quarterback (well, unless you’re comparing it to Michigan’s Denard Robinson, then it’s only a mediocre day), but Holtz wants Daniels to be more of a passer and in that area, he had a day to forget.  Five completions to his teammates, four to the Gators.  84 yards passing, 51 of which came on one play.  I’m sure Daniels is more than ready for the bye week.
The other positive for the Bulls was the play of the defensive line, at least early.  When you give up 251 yards on the ground, you don’t want to think of your defensive line play as a positive, but USF got plenty of pressure on Gator quarterback John Brantley early and was able to slow the Florida offense.  Turnovers ended up being the problem and the heat didn’t help.  Having to be on the field as much as they did during the second half was tough and as the Gators got rolling, things got difficult for the entire USF defense.
Now for the Gators.  This Florida running back had a career-high 139 rushing yards and 255 total yards on the day.  Who is Jeff Demps?  Demps has now played in two games on the season.  Two games in which he averaged over 12 yards per carry in each.  Think about that for a second.  12 yards per carry (he actually averages 12.5).  There are plenty of receivers that don’t average that per catch.  In fact, Brantley is averaging only 8.1 per completion.  We expect high per carry averages for Demps – he averaged 7.8 as a true freshman and 7.5 as a sophomore – but over 12 is ridiculous.  Even if you remove his 62-yard run against USF and his 72-yard run against Miami (OH), you still get a back averaging over six yards per carry.  Can you say weapon?
Other than Demps, Florida has plenty of positives to build on as they head into SEC play.  The pass defense was once against its ball-hawking self.  That’s now two games and eight interceptions already.  Ahmad Black and Janoris Jenkins have accounted for five of those.  That’s now nine for Black in his Gator career, one away from jumping into a tie for tenth all-time in school history.  Not bad for a “recruiting mistake.”  Jenkins has stepped up and has clearly become one of the leaders on defense.  The young cornerbacks on the roster have a great player to learn from over the course of the season.
And the young players overall for that matter.  Those young players that stepped up and had good performances on Saturday.  Stephen Alli, Robert Clark, and Andre Debose all saw plenty of time on the field against USF.  While they only totaled one catch for 15 yards (the reception was Clark), they’re all learning and experience is key.  On the defensive side of the field, both Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins made great plays in coverage.  Depth in the secondary is a concern of many because of the youth at both cornerback and safety, but if the youngsters keep playing like they have been, it shouldn’t be much of a worry.
Good game for Florida and something to build on for USF.  The Gators don’t get a rest as they travel to Tennessee in a few short days.  The Bulls get a chance to rest after the loss before three straight home games.  Saw some good things from both teams and some areas where there can be improvement.  If the second half is indicative of how Florida will play from here on out, the Gators can and will have a very good season.  For USF, it’s not something to get too discouraged about.  This was definitely not a team to be ashamed to lose to.  Learn from it and move forward.

Breaking Down the Florida Gators’ 2010 Recruiting Class – Part 4

Previous breakdowns: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Cody Riggs
DB – 5’8″, 156 lbs. – Ft. Lauderdale, FL – St. Thomas Aquinas
Riggs was overshadowed by high school teammate and FSU signee Lamarcus Joyner, but definitely shouldn’t have been.  Perhaps the biggest thing differentiating him from Joyner is his small frame.  Riggs will have to put on a good amount of weight before he can even think about seeing the field.  His superior speed makes him a return candidate, but he’ll probably redshirt in an effort to get him to a better size to be able to battle SEC receivers.  He does possess above-average coverage skills though, so when he does add bulk, he’ll be a great cover corner.
Joshua Shaw
DB – 6’1″, 195 lbs. – Palmdale, CA – Palmdale
Along with Ronald Powell, plucking Shaw out of California was huge for Florida and the future of Gator recruiting.  In 2007 and 2008, Florida started a true freshman at cornerback.  In 2010, Shaw could be the third in four years to do so.  He’ll be given every opportunity to play right away and enrolling early helped his path to getting there.  Expect a great Gator career and years of NFL success ahead of him.  He’s ready to go up with most college receivers already.
Ian Silberman
OL – 6’4″, 257 lbs. – Fleming Island, FL – Fleming Island
Silberman was the first prospect to become part of the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class and he held on for nearly 19 months before signing.  That’s right, he committed before most of the 2009 class.  When you want to go to Florida, you go to Florida I guess.  Silberman is small at 257 pounds, but he has all the tools to become a great offensive lineman and the frame to add necessary weight.  He’ll spend a few years getting into the right shape, but expect him to be a more than solid contributor when he does get regular playing time.
Michael Taylor
LB – 6’1″, 213 lbs. – Atlanta, GA – Westlake
Taylor has beast mode written all over him.  And more important he saw the light.  After committing to Lane Kiffin and Tennessee, Taylor visited Florida and made the switch essentially saying the Gators were all that AND a bag of chips.  Taylor’s commitment was big because while the LB corps looks good for the immediate future, depth could be an issue in a few years.  Taylor should develop into an important part of Florida’s defense.
Lynden Trail
DE – 6’7″, 220 lbs. – Miami, FL – Booker T. Washington
Enter the fan favorite.  What’s not to like about Trail?  He seems more pro-Gator than a lot of the current players and he isn’t afraid to talk about it.  Trail brings instant memories of Jarvis Moss to mind and that is far from a bad thing.  As he adds strength over his first few years in Gainesville, he’ll become scary good.  So much so he’s already been nicknamed Freak III.  And he is just that.  Check back in 2012 when Florida could seriously have four or five of the nation’s best defensive linemen.
Travon Van
ATH – 5’11”, 200 lbs. – New Berlin, NY – Milford Academy
Before Milford Academy, Van was a star at Helix in San Diego.  The same Helix that produced Reggie Bush and Alex Smith.  Van is listed as an athlete and could see time at either running back or cornerback.  Although a lot points to him being added to the defensive backfield, Van could provide depth as a power back in the future.  There’s a good chance Van will redshirt while coaches figure out where he can contribute the most.
Jaylen Watkins
DB – 6’1″, 172 lbs. – Cape Coral, FL – Cape Coral
Watkins is another one of the early enrollees.  He has the speed to keep up with virtually any receiver, but will need to get stronger to fight for jump balls.  He doubled as a receiver and it shows in his developed ball skills.  Because of that, some think he could be moved to receiver if needed.  Odds are Watkins is in line for a redshirt.

Breaking Down the Florida Gators’ 2010 Recruiting Class – Part 3

Previous breakdowns: Part 1, Part 2
Jordan Haden
DB – 6’0″, 198 lbs. – Fort Washington, MD – Friendly
With the bevy of talent coming in at defensive back, Haden almost seems forgotten at times.  For the last few months everyone has wanted to talk about Matt Elam, Joshua Shaw, Jonathan Dowling, Cody Riggs, and ever Demar Dorsey.  Many tend to forget Haden is already enrolled and adjusting to life at Florida.  Don’t sleep on the latest Haden to suit up for the Gators.  He could make a big impact sooner than many think.  And hopefully the Haden-to-Florida line doesn’t stop with him.
Darrin Kitchens
LB – 6’3″, 215 lbs. – Homestead, FL – Homestead
Along with Adrian Coxson and Chaz Green, Kitchens was one of the Signing Day commits.  Take a look at his rankings and you might not be all that impressed, but Kitchens in an extremely athletic linebacker that could see time at a few other positions as well.  He’s one of those never stop going guys that is every coach’s dream.  A redshirt is most likely in his immediate future, but he should provide solid play for years after that.
Michael McFarland
TE – 6’6″, 230 lbs. – Tampa, FL – Blake
McFarland was headed toward a grayshirt season before Dorsey dropped/was dropped.  It also didn’t hurt that Auburn started to put the full-court press on the Tampa tight end.  McFarland’s grayshirt future lasted only a few short days and he will instead now join his fellow classmates as a freshman in the fall.  McFarland is a project who won’t see the field for a while, but should be more than ready when he does.
Tyler Murphy
QB – 6’2″, 190 lbs. – Wethersfield, CT – Wethersfield
Murphy is the question mark of the class.  Rivals.com rates him as a two-star dual-threat quarterback and the tenth-best prospect from the state of Connecticut.  To many that doesn’t sound like Florida Gator material, but Murphy is a QB who can run effectively with the ball and may have a better arm than you think.  Having run a spread offense in high school helps his transition to Florida.  Murphy may not end up spending his entire career at quarterback, but is an intriguing prospect nonetheless.
Leon Orr
DT – 6’4″, 300 lbs. – New Port Richey, FL – Gulf
Orr gets a little lost in the shuffle behind those other defensive linemen ranked near the top of most recruiting lists, but he shouldn’t.  A great overall talent for someone his size, Orr will most likely play defensive tackle for the Gators.  He should make the adjustment well given his strength.  Orr may also be used to provide depth along the offensive line.  Think of him as the Matt Patchan type that could be used a variety of different ways.
Solomon Patton
WR – 5’10”, 175 lbs. – Mobile, AL – Murphy
Although Chris Dunkley is the one everyone mentions, Patton may be a step ahead of the other receivers because he enrolled early.  Patton possesses above average speed, but his biggest strength may be his field vision.  He has that ability to find open space similar to what Percy Harvin had.  Not that I’m comparing Patton to Harvin, but he does have a great ability to know where to run and how to get into the open field.  Patton could see time early depending on how the depth chart shapes up.
Ronald Powell
DE – 6’4″, 230 lbs. – Moreno Valley, CA – Rancho Verde
The star of the class, Powell gives Florida the top prospect in the nation.  Whether it’s at defensive end, outside linebacker, or tight end, Powell will make an immediate impact.  He has all the tools to star at any position and according to coaches could play multiple.  Although that’s said much more often than it actually happens.  Expect Powell to be one of the top contributing players for years.  And expect Florida coaches to use his success to pluck a few more future Gators out of California.
Come back tomorrow for the final part.

Cody Riggs Becomes the Latest Florida Gator

With coaching changes coming in at breakneck speeds, it would be no surprise if all was quiet on the Florida recruiting front at the moment.  But luckily for the Gators, that’s not the case.  Florida picked up a big commitment with the announcement that St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) cornerback Cody Riggs will be a Gator.
After the recent news of fellow Aquinas cornerback Lamarcus Joyner committing to FSU, Florida fans were discouraged.  It appeared to be another loss for the Gators since Florida made it to Joyner’s final three.  What many didn’t realize is that Joyner always had the Seminoles #1 and although he talked positively about the Gators, there was slim to no chance he would verbally commit to Florida.  Fans should be happy with who the Gators did end up with.
Riggs is rated as the eight-best cornerback in the nation and is just outside of the overall top 100 on Rivals.com.  While small – 5’9”, 156 pounds – Riggs is one of the faster recruits in the nation and his agility and acceleration or both things to marvel at.  He is able to change direction without losing ground to receivers and has better than average ball skills.  Riggs projects to stay at cornerback throughout his career and could see some time in the return game.
Being compared to Joyner so much, Riggs constantly wants to prove himself and has done a great job in doing so.  He’ll come to Florida with a desire to prove he is just as good as his Nole-bound counterpart and there’s no reason to think he won’t be.