Florida Gators Will Play Freshmen Early And Often During 2012 Football Season

The Florida Gators will play a number of true freshmen during the 2012 football season and that trend will start during Saturday’s opener against Bowling Green. It’s not surprising* as it’s become quite the frequent occurrence not only at Florida, but around the nation.

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.”

Jonathan Bullard Should Be Cleared; DE To Join Florida Gators In The Fall

Reports believe five-star defensive end Jonathan Bullard will be cleared to enroll at the University of Florida ($). While a paperwork issue will cause the Shelby, NC (Crest) DE to miss the Summer B semester, he will join the Florida Gators in the Fall and be fully eligible to play. There are still a few small matters Bullard has to take care of (YAY FOR SPECIFICS!!!), but they shouldn’t prevent him from becoming a Gator in time for the 2012 season.

Bullard improved his academic standing over the course of his senior year at Crest, getting himself into position to be eligible to play. Missing the Summer B session leaves him on the outside temporarily, but only for a very short period of time. Bullard should be able to join Florida in time for fall camp on August 4.

One of the nation’s top recruits, Bullard was an important part of the 2012 class and one expected to contribute immediately. With Bullard in the fold, Sharrif Floyd may be free to play inside on certain downs. The incoming freshman will have to get up to speed in a very short amount of time, but his talent suggests he can do it.

We’ll keep a watch on Bullard’s status, waiting impatiently for “should be cleared” to turn into “cleared.”

Jonathan Bullard, Dante Fowler Jr., Dante Phillips Have Yet To Report; Could Arrive At Florida Soon

The Florida Gators put a heavy emphasis on the defensive line during the 2012 recruiting cycle. That added focus paid off with the signings of Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler Jr. among others. Considered two of the nation’s top prospects, Rivals gave both five stars, ranking Bullard No. 6 overall and Fowler No. 28. Just outside of the Rivals100 was defensive tackle Dante Phillips coming in at No. 120. Unfortunately, at this point, none of the three have reported to Florida.

Bullard was one of the stars of the class and also one of the incoming freshman expected to contribute immediately. He’s the one we may not have to worry about. The latest reports have Bullard qualifying. He has completed the necessary coursework and should be with the Gators as soon as all of the necessary paperwork is where it needs to be. Take a sigh of relief Florida fans.

Fowler may not be far behind. Some say he could report as early as Monday, while others expect him to arrive later in the week. Whatever the case, it appears Fowler either has completed the necessary academic requirements or is about to. He should be in Gainesville soon, joining fellow five-star Bullard.

Phillips is the wild card because, well, we just don’t know. His status is up in the air and he’s the one we’ll have to continue to watch.

For now, there doesn’t seem to be too much to worry about, but just a situation to keep on eye on. All signs point to the positive for Bullard. Fowler should be close behind. Phillips is the question mark.

2013 Football Recruiting: Tyrone Crowder Could Bring More North Carolina Talent To Florida

The state of a North Carolina has been good to the Florida Gators football program in recent years. Very good in fact. North Carolina has given the Gators Brandon Spikes, Xavier Nixon and newcomers Jonathan Bullard, D.J. Humphries, Rhaheim Ledbetter and Alex McCalister, who have opened the pipeline down to the Sunshine State. Tyrone Crowder – a star offensive guard in the 2013 recruiting class – could keep it open.

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.

Florida’s D.J. Durkin Named Rivals Recruiter Of The Year

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.

2012 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Add Alex McCalister; Defensive End Verbally Commits

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.

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Recruit Report: Rhaheim Ledbetter, S, Crest

The latest recruit report is up at Alligator Army and this one highlights the most recent Florida commit. Safety Rhaheim Ledbetter committed to the Gators on Friday, which was neither a surprise or a shock.

Many expected Brandon Spikes’s little cousin to join the Gators one day and Friday was the day. There is still a little concern over the rumored “package deal” he is with high school teammate Jonathan Bullard, but for now (and according to him, for good) Ledbetter is a member of the Florida program.
Ledbetter is a hard-hitting safety who despite his love for blowing up wide receivers still has an intelligence for the game. He sticks to his assignments and makes the smart play while making those coming across the middle fear him. While the Gators have more than enough depth at defensive back, you have to welcome a player of Ledbetter’s skill set.
Florida is off to a furious pace when it comes to recruiting at this point in the summer. Keep your fingers crossed that this continues as the season starts.