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!

Florida Gators Recruiting: Quarterback Treon Harris Flips from Florida State

Florida pulled off one of the biggest gets of National Signing Day, flipping quarterback Treon Harris from Florida State to the Gators.

Treon Harris, Florida Gators

Once hired as Florida’s new offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper made Harris one of his top targets. Despite being committed to FSU, Harris was open to listening to what Roper had to offer. The quarterback seems to fit well into the offense Roper hopes to run and brings a different skill set to the position than early enrollee Will Grier.

Jeff Driskel will be the starter, but the junior has a history with injuries and, at times, inconsistent play. While many fans hoped Grier could come in and win the job immediately, the best course of action for the Gators was always to bring in two quarterbacks. Two transferred out; two are coming in.

Harris could actually be the one to relieve Driskel during the 2014 season as he may fit the offense better from day one. That’s not to say Grier is now on the outside looking in, but the best course of action for him may be to redshirt while the offense evolves. There are worse things than three quarterbacks all learning during the transition season to be ready for 2015.

Fans will instantly think back to John Brantley and Cam Newton and then to Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Keep hope that this time around, the two quarterbacks will have bright futures for the Gators.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Wide Receiver C.J. Worton Signs with Florida Over West Virginia

Former Florida State commit C.J. Worton has signed with Florida. The wide receiver announced his decision on National Signing Day, selecting the Gators over West Virginia.

C.J. Worton, Florida Gators

When Worton first reopened his recruitment, many believed Florida was the school to beat, but West Virginia came on strong. The Mountaineers pushed Worton until the very end, hoping to add the three-star wide receiver. In the end, his familiarity with Gainesville–his brother Cody was there from 2006-2010–won out.

Worton joins a wide receiver class that may not be completely closed. Adoree’ Jackson is still in the play for the Gators.

Florida Gators Recruiting: J.C. Jackson Sticks with Commitment

The one Florida commit that seemed the most likely to flip has stuck with the Gators. J.C. Jackson has signed with Florida after all.

J.C. Jackson, Florida Gators

Jackson wavered through most of his recruitment and it was largely due to being very confused about the decision he had to make. Having committed to the Gators after decommitting from Florida State, Jackson was pursued heavily by both FSU and Miami. He could have signed with any one of the three schools and it wouldn’t have been much of a surprise.

What was a surprise was a last-minute, unexpected visit to Florida this past weekend. Jackson wanted to take in the school one more time. Evidently, he may have been doing one final check to be sure he had made the right choice.

On Wednesday morning, Florida received a signed Letter of Intent from Jackson. The Immokalee, FL (Immokalee) defensive back will be a Gator.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Dalvin Cook Officially Decommits; RB Heading to FSU

Dalvin Cook made it official on Tuesday when he announced he would be heading to Florida State. The five-star running back had long been rumored to eventually choose the Seminoles, decommitting from Florida in the process. He, or actually ESPNU, made it official on New Year’s Eve when the network posted a graphic indicating he would commit to FSU.

Dalvin Cook, Florida State Seminoles

While the loss off a recruit of Cook’s caliber stings, his actual decommitment is far from surprising. For months, few believed he would end up at Florida despite Cook himself stating he was 80% or 100% committed at various times during his recruitment. This was a smokescreen of sorts that led him to FSU, a choice that was also not a surprise in any way. For months now, it was widely believed he would play for the ‘Noles and because of that Gators’ fans had already attempted to move on.

The issue that arises about it now being official is what will come next. Five-star wide receiver Ermon Lane is currently considered a Florida commit; however, he has made it clear several times that he wants to play college football with Cook. Cook has said the same about playing with Lane. With Cook committed to FSU now, many think Lane won’t be far behind. The Gators have already felt the sting, losing 2015 wide receiver and Cook high school teammate Da’Vante Phillips last week.

Florida has recently turned its attention to other 2014 running backs–perhaps an indication that Will Muschamp and the staff knew what was coming with Cook. While he has been committed to Oregon for more than three months, the Gators have not stopped their pursuit of Tony James. Florida also recently extended a scholarship offer to Jeff Jones. Jones is committed to Minnesota, but will officially visit the Gators on January 24, 2014.

Year Four of Will Muschamp is a Certainty, But First the Gamecocks

Will Muschamp was given a vote of confidence this week—he will be the head coach of the Florida Gators in 2014. Both athletic director Jeremy Foley and University of Florida president Bernie Machen have come out in support on Muschamp; Foley going as far as to say he is 1,000% convinced Muschamp is the right man for the job. Debates will rage on, but are now as pointless as are those regarding possible future coaches. Will Muschamp will return, as far as we know.

Will Muschamp - Florida Gators

With the votes of confidence from Foley and Machen, Muschamp can focus on what is sure to be a tough run of final games. The regular season, and in all likelihood the entire season, comes to an end on November 30 with a visit from the currently undefeated Florida State Seminoles. One week before that, the Gators host Georgia Southern in what at one time was thought to be an easy victory. Easy victories have become a thing of the distant past. Prior to both of those games, there is Saturday’s trip to Columbia, South Carolina to face an old friend and another ranked opponent.

I will always have a feeling of admiration for Steve Spurrier, and maybe that makes me a different sort of Florida fan. There are those, and they still seem many in numbers, that despise the man that once led the Gators to glorious moment after glorious moment. After all, he left the Gators and that is the sin of all sins. You don’t win and win plenty at the University of Florida and then leave for a new opportunity or because the pressure was too much. The Gators have had two national championship winning head coaches do so, and many fans are not pleased about it and never will be.

There are some of us, though, that have moved on. I don’t blame Spurrier for leaving; I praise him for what he built. You can argue that the Florida Gators were destined for greatness regardless of the man that led them there. The school is large enough and the state in which it resides is plentiful of star high school prospects. While the 1970s had low points, the 1980s had high ones before Spurrier arrived. In 1990, things changed though. Spurrier returned to Gainesville and took the Gators to new heights. No one can predict what would have happened if he hadn’t, but I like to think those 12 seasons and 122 wins helped pave the way for SEC titles and national championships after Spurrier had long left the orange and blue.

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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: 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.

Florida Gators 72 – Florida State Seminoles 47; Demolishes Sounds Just About Right

I fully admit that I’m a football fan first. I’m probably also a football fan second and even third. In terms of ranking sports, basketball comes in behind soccer and hockey. (Yes, I just said that and I do mean it. Feel free to never read anything I ever write again.) But that ranking changes when it comes to the Florida Gators. It’s still football first and always will be, but basketball climbs leaps and bounds and plants itself firmly in the number two spot. There still isn’t much of a comparison, but if the football team beating those nasty, hated Florida State Seminoles is a delicious piece of pumpkin pie this time of year, the basketball team doing the same less than two weeks later is the whipped cream.

Kenny Boynton - Florida Gators

I like beating FSU in any sport really. I love blowing them out (or demolishing them as the ESPN headline stated). I’ll admit that I watched the game in bits and pieces. Life has taken a commanding lead in the priority race over blogging this year. I have no problem with that and am more than pleased with what life has brought, but that means balancing it with watching games, evaluating games, and then writing about games. It doesn’t make wins any less wonderful and definitely doesn’t diminish the glorious feeling of beating your rival to the point of their utter insignificance.

And that’s about as close as I’ve come to trash talk in quite some time. I rarely venture into that arena, mostly because for every stupid thing that comes flying out of my mouth, there is a heartbreaking loss to follow. So I cover my bases by not saying much that resembles “HAHA, YOU SUCK!” Partly because I don’t see the point, but also because I don’t like to tick off the jinx gods.

That all sounds good and then the last two weeks happened. Just when it looked like the ‘Noles had mounted a comeback and beat the Gators on the football field, Florida turned it up in the fourth quarter and worn down yet another overrated FSU squad. Then the basketball team showed why many are starting to believe a long NCAA Tournament run is ahead by running over the Seminoles in a game that wasn’t ever close.

The Gators contained the ‘Noles by only allowing one player to reach double digits in scoring. Senior guard Michael Snaer scored just 10 points on only 3-of-8 shooting and is starting to look less and less like the All-American some thought he would be. But it wasn’t just Snaer that did virtually nothing; it was the entire FSU team. They were dominated by a Florida team that looks better on both ends of the court than we imagined.

The win was the Gators’ seventh of the season, pushing Florida’s record to 7-0. The Gators have won each game by at least 13 points and have beaten their last two opponents – Marquette and Florida State – by 58 combined. Add Wisconsin to the mix and Florida has defeated what were supposed to be three fairly good teams by an average of 25.3 points. Yeah, things are good in Gainesville. So maybe the trash talk will resurface again; it’s hard to tell, but there is a reason for it if it does.