Kavaris Harkless pulled off a last-minute switch on Sunday. The offensive tackle was in Kentucky ready to officially enroll early at Louisville when a certain event changed his mind, leading Harkless to instead commit to Florida.
When Charlie Strong eventually left Louisville, Gators’ fans hoped it meant good news for Florida. It did, just not the news they were looking for. With Strong headed to Texas to become the Longhorns’ new head coach, Harkless changed his mind on becoming a Cardinal. Without Strong, Harkless decided Florida would be his new home. He will enroll early.
Harkless’s commitment comes at a critical time for Florida. In desperate need of depth across the offensive line, the Gators are looking for bodies wherever they can find them. Harkless becomes to sixth linemen to join the 2014 recruiting class.
Among those expected to contribute and even see time in the first game are running back Matt Jones, wide receivers Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman, tight end Kent Taylor, offensive linemen Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries, defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, linebackers Dante Fowler Jr. and Antonio Morrison, and defensive back Brian Poole.
We’re far past the days where a redshirt season was the norm. In today’s college football world, you redshirt if you’re hurt or you’re really, truly not ready to see the field. Otherwise, game experience is a desire of coaching staffs across the nation. The Florida freshman will earn valuable playing time in 2012 and (hopefully) be more prepared for 2013 and beyond.
*We should just go ahead and add a new category to the mix – Things That Don’t Surprise Anyone But Are Still Considered “Newsworthy.”
The football offseason brings about boredom and plenty of it. It has forced us at The Bull Gator to come up with ways to occupy our time whether they are fun or trivial exercises in futility. Some examples include past attempts at coming up with the best Florida Gators of all-time at each jersey number and a draft consisting of only players available from the schools we have attended. This is another one of those exercises.
One Eyed Willy and I conducted a draft where we each attempted to fill a starting roster made up of all Gators. The rules were simple: 1) you need to fill each position with a player that could realistically line up at that position, and 2) your only real wildcards are going with a fullback or a third wide receiver and playing either a 4-3 defense or a 3-4.
Once we were done, we gave the teams to Evandagator and he let us know which team he thought would win if they went head-to-head. We didn’t tell him which team belonged to which one of us, so he could give his unbiased opinion (we aren’t completely sure which one of us he likes more just yet). We also posted the teams on Alligator Alley (one of the message boards on Inside The Gators) to see what they thought as well.
First up, the teams:
*The numbers in parenthesis indicate the overall pick the player was selected. Some players don’t have numbers next to their names because once we realized we only had positional openings left where we wouldn’t be competing for players, we each filled our rosters in one lump selection.
Crowder has 15 offers and has mostly focused on schools in his home state. However, the 6’2″, 325-guard from Richmond Senior (Rockingham, NC) is also considering both Florida and Alabama and has a connection of sorts to the Gators – new strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman played at Richmond. That may not be enough to push Crowder to Florida (he hasn’t even narrowed his list down to his finalists at this point), but connections never hurt when it comes to recruiting and if the Gators can find one inroad, that could be enough in the end.
Crowder plays tackle at Richmond, but projects as a guard at the college level. He’s known to have quick feet and is a tenacious blocker with a mean streak. 247Sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN all give Crowder four stars. He peaks on 247 as their No. 54 overall player in the 2013 class. He plans to narrow down his list of choices to his top five over the next couple of weeks.
As a junior with two years of eligibility starting with the 2013 season, Garcia is likely to compete with D.J. Humphries – who in all probability will be a sophomore – for the starting left tackle job. It will be some time before we’ll know the winner of that position battle, but as is always the case with the offensive line, depth is more than welcome. Garcia should push the former five-star recruit Humphries, who should do the same for the transfer. They will both only get better as they compete for playing time in 2013 and possibly 2014.
Garcia is a welcome addition to the roster and with starting experience under his belt, should be ready to compete in 2013.
I’ve been hard on D.J. Durkin during his two seasons with the Florida Gators. During the 2010 season, the linebackers struggled and during 2011, special teams left more than just something to be desired at times. But I can swallow my pride and give the man credit where credit it due. On Monday, Durkin was named Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.
Durkin’s unit started to show life as the 2011 season progressed and definitely had their moments. I’m sure we’re all hoping 2012 is the season players like Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins reach All-American levels of play. Durkin’s biggest impact, though, may be happening off the field.
Durkin was credited for seven commitments in the 2012 recruiting class, including five-star offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and five-star defensive end Johnathan Bullard. He played a major role in kicking the door to North Carolina wide open. Durkin was also instrumental in keeping cornerback Brian Poole committed to Florida and following up with linebacker Jeremi Powell to ensure he would become a Gator.
The train started on Saturday with the commitments of 2012 defensive end Brian Cox Jr. and 2013 running back Adam Lane and continued into Monday with the announcement of 2012 defensive end Alex McCalister. McCalister becomes the seventh defensive line commitment the Gators have picked up and the second in three days to be considered a fit for the buck position.
McCalister – listed at 6’7″, 212 pounds – chose Florida over Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He will have to add considerable bulk before he’ll see significant playing time in a Gators’ uniform, but his quickness off the line makes him an intriguing prospect. Out of Clemmons, North Carolina (West Forsyth), McCalister becomes the latest in a line of recent recruits from the state of North Carolina to commit to Florida. There are three others in the 2012 class alone – Jonathan Bullard, D.J. Humphries, Rhaheim Ledbetter – Xavier Nixon will be back in a Gators’ uniform this upcoming season and we can’t forget about Brandon Spikes.
McCalister makes it 20 commitments for Florida with more to come as National Signing Day approaches.
On Friday, Florida picked up its biggest commitment yet in the form of five-star recruit D.J. Humphries. The 6’5″, 265-pound offensive tackle from Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC) pushes the Gators’ recruiting class near the top of most team rankings.
Humphries is a relentless offensive lineman that plays through the whistle every time. He’s sure to finish off his assignment then immediately look for someone else to block. Humphries is dangerous in the run game and equally impressive in the pass game. He’s the type that will come in and compete right away and could get serious playing time during his true freshman season. If all goes according to plan, Humphries could man one of the offensive tackle positions in 2013 and 2014 with a player option (i.e. staying for his senior season or not) for 2015.
If you’re a Florida and fan and were hoping for some good news on your Friday night, it came in a big way. D.J. Humphries – the nation’s no. 1 offensive tackle and no. 3 prospect overall – committed to the Gators. Humphries chose Florida over Tennessee and Auburn.
I’ll have plenty more on Humphries over at Alligator Army in the next few days, but for now know that this is great news for Florida and a huge get for Will Muschamp and company. Humphries is one of the nation’s top recruits and fills a need for the Gators. The 6’5″, 265-pound is the 17th prospect to commit to Florida and definitively answers any questions anyone may have of a first-year head coach being able to recruit effectively. The class Muschamp and staff have put together is rivaling the nation’s best.
With Humphries, the Gators get a player that can come in and compete for a position right away. The coaching staff is confident he will be able to contribute almost immediately and is someone that could be a mainstay on the line for three to four years.
Humphries has said he will take his official visits during the fall, but feels confident he made the right decision. He plans on enrolling at Florida in January and see the field in 2012. Check out Alligator Army for a full breakdown of Humphries later this weekend.
Time once again. It’s Friday and the weekend is upon us. Those of you on the East coast may have already started your weekend while the rest of you count down the final few hours. Here are some links to get you through the weekend. We’re now less than four weeks away from the first game of the college football season. It’s oh so close, but not here just yet, so read up.