Florida Gators Recruiting: Cornerback Jalen Tabor Flips from Arizona

If you want to shock the world, one way to do so is to switch your commitment at the last moment when few saw it coming. Five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor may have done just that, switching his commitment from Arizona to Florida with the intent on enrolling early.

Jalen Tabor, Florida Gators

The initial surprise came less than one week ago when Tabor committed to the Wildcats at the Under Armour All-America game. While shocking, it may not have been as much of a surprise as it seems. Tabor is close friends with high school teammate Jonathan Haden (remember the Hadens?) who has been committed to Arizona since May of last year.

This time around, he attempted to go bigger. Tabor committed to Florida and looks to enroll immediately. Coming in early, and with his level of talent, gives him a great chance to see early playing time. There’s a chance we could see Tabor as much in 2014 as we saw Vernon Hargreaves III in 2013.

Tabor’s commitment comes at a critical time for the Gators. With two of Florida’s top cornerbacks declaring their intentions to leave early and enter the NFL Draft—Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson—the Gators need to reload. Tabor is a perfectly acceptable way to do that.

The 6’1”, 182-pound cornerback is receives five stars from Rivals and four from the other major recruiting services. The 247 composite gives him a score of 0.9873 and puts him as the No. 24 player in the nation and No. 4 CB.

Marcus Roberson to Declare for 2014 NFL Draft; Cornerback to Leave Gators

According to Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun, Gators’ junior cornerback Marcus Roberson will leave Florida early and declare himself eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Roberson only appeared in seven games for the Gators in 2013, missing time due to injuries and suspension, but he is still projected to be selected in the first or second round of April’s draft.

Marcus Roberson, Florida Gators

Despite playing in just more than half of the Gators’ games in 2013, Roberson’s draft stock isn’t expected to be impacted. His coverage skills have been one of his greatest strengths during his entire Florida career and many believe he will only get better with time.

Roberson’s play does present some concerns as he is a frequent offender when it comes to pass interference calls. He has always played the game physically and it has haunted him at times. However, he is still a relatively young player and discipline could come with time and coaching.

Roberson becomes the second Florida cornerback to leave the Gators early for the NFL Draft. He joins fellow junior Loucheiz Purifoy who declared his intentions to bolt to the NFL almost immediately following the conclusion of the 2013 regular season.

While Florida still has talent at cornerback, it is largely young talent that split time with veterans such as Roberson, Purifoy and Jaylen Watkins. The Gators need to reload immediately and will be sure to look at any available prospects during the final month of recruiting. Florida appears to be in good shape with Duke Dawson, J.C. Jackson and Quincy Wilson currently committed, but Jackson is wavering and all three will need time to develop.

We’ve Made It to August; College Football (and Hope) Commence

We wait far too long for college football to begin. The fan starts to wait the moment the national championship game comes to a conclusion. There are other sports to fill our time, but they don’t fill the void. They are stopgaps and as much as we love them, we always come back to college football. (Unless you’re a college basketball fan first, but then I can’t explain your existence.)

Jeff Driskel Florida Gators

There are countdowns upon countdowns–100 days, 50 days, 1 month. The real one begins in August. Fall camps have started and games are on the horizon. It’s truly the most wonderful time of the year. Or it would be if it weren’t for this infernal heat. I love Florida and all it has to offer (even its copious amounts of crazy), but even I have my limits when having to walk outside in a button-down and khakis. My Canadian blood curses me every time. (Insert obligatory Jesse Palmer mention here.)

So here we are–August. It’s full of practice reports, predictions, trash talk, and apparently appendectomies. You don’t want to enter August with the news that one of your players will miss a few weeks of practice due to the removal of his appendix. You don’t want that player to be your starting quarterback. You don’t want the quarterback to be the only one on the roster with experience because that other guy now calls one of the Carolinas home.

It’s an entirely different article in itself, but this is the year of Jeff Driskel. Not in a year of Chris Leak sort of way, as Leak had on his way to a national championship in his final season. But in the way that Driskel could be made or broken during this, his junior season. Driskel could be on his way to that Chris Leak year. He could also go the way of a, let’s say, Terry Dean. For those keeping score at home, 2006 Leak > 1993 Dean. So maybe just maybe it is in a year of Chris Leak sort of way, or maybe Driskel is one season away from that 2006-type run. On the other side of the coin, maybe there is a youngster in the wings waiting to pounce and take over.

(To be clear, Dean was not a bad quarterback by any stretch of the imagination. However, there was someone else on the depth chart that became the legend Dean did not. Driskel could end up with a historical significance very close to that of Dean’s–a serviceable QB on teams with heaps of talent. That’s not an awful thing, but it’s also not what we want and most likely not what Driskel wants. While the Danny Wuerffel and Tim Tebow spots are reserved for, well, Wuerffel and Tebow, Driskel has a shot at putting himself alongside someone like a Leak. It’ll take a leap of sorts and even more than the heaps of talent the Florida Gators may already possess, but let’s be clear that 2013 Driskel would much rather resemble 2006 Leak than 1993, or even 1994, Dean. It’s more than just the individual numbers, it’s the end result of the season.)

There will be others to watch on offense, and defense as well. The Gators are sure to produce a star or two or ten, but there is also the opportunity for disappointment. We don’t take disappointment well here in Gator Nation. We never have, but we used to be better at it. Actually, that’s not true at all. The truth is that we used to be quieter about it. All fanbases did. Before the Internet explosion and message boards and Facebook and Twitter, we complained to our close personal circle of family, friends, etc. Today, we live in a world in which we complain to everyone. Disappoint came against Georgia and again against Louisville last season, and we let the world know about it.

It could come again this season. While an undefeated season is a possibility, it’s not likely. I would venture a guess that no one out there fully expects an unblemished record. As much as we all may hope for it, we are realistic and think 11-2 is entirely possible again. If those two at the end of that record come, you’ll be sure we’ll talk about them. There’s nothing wrong with that–every fanbase does it (even if at times it feels like we may do it more)–but for now we ignore the possible disappointment. We ignore it because it’s August and we have hope.

Hope is a dangerous thing in sports, but it’s also what makes a fan a fan. Every season I have hope; some seasons more than others, but hope all the same. But look at it this way for a moment: I was 33 years old at the end of the 2012 season. In those 33 years, the Gators won three national championships. Not a bad percentage at all (unless you’re Alabama of recent years), but three ultimate prizes in 33 years. In that same time, FSU took home only two trophies and Tennessee managed only one. Yet, we fans have hope.

Hope despite a quarterback with a future that could go in either direction. Hope despite a largely new running game (although, let’s be honest, we’re all pretty excited about it). Hope despite a group of receivers that need to step up possibly more than any other unit on the entire squad. Hope despite plenty of new starters and faces on defense. Hope despite a talented kick returner lost for the season.

I, personally, hope for Driskel’s progression. I hope for big things from Matt Jones and an explosive rookie campaign from Kelvin Taylor. I hope for a go-to receiver or two. I hope for a dependable offensive line. I hope for a frightening defensive line. I hope for consistent tackling from the linebackers. I hope for All-American seasons from Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy. I hope to finally be able to spell Loucheiz correctly on the first try. I hope for 10 wins, at least. I hope for an SEC Championship Game appearance. I hope for a season to be proud of. I hope. We all do.

Florida Gators Arrest Update: Charges Dropped Against Louchiez Purifoy

After his run-in with the law over two weeks ago, Florida Gators cornerback Louchiez Purifoy’s criminal stretch is no more, as the Gainesville state attorney’s office has decided to drop its case against Purifoy, due to lack of evidence. Purifoy, a fan-favorite for many, was arrested for allegedly being present in a car containing marijuana. Before the case was dropped, Purifoy faced a misdemeanor.

Purifoy’s case was likely dropped because the young Gator was in the back of the car, while the cannabis was found in the front. The Florida Gators’ MVA (Most Valuable Attorney) Huntley Johnson defended Purifoy.

Purifoy will now moves past his arrest, and Will Muschamp has surely already conversed/scolded/advised Purifoy, so that’s a good thing. We hope Louchiez can learn from the mistake, and hopefully pick his “crowd” more responsibly. The cornerback will actually be playing some wide receiver in Spring practice, according to Coach Muschamp.

On a lighter note, here’s one of our funnier Gators moments, starring Mr. Purifoy and future NFL Draft pick Matt Elam. No Gators were hurt in the making of the video below, though tempers flared.

 

Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After Win Over The LSU Tigers

Another win, another new Florida Gators feature at The Bull Gator. The name is inspired by our quarterback Jeff Driskel and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which discusses a plethora of topics concerning the week’s NFL games. We hope to do something similar, but on a minor, more pertinent-to-us level. Don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as long.

And another happy week in Gatorland.

Apologies for the fact that its Tuesday. Pink eye is the culprit.

If I were to tell you that six weeks into the season, Florida would be sitting undefeated at 5-0, AND Florida State would already have one loss despite beating Clemson, I doubt you would believe me.

But that’s just where we are. It’s almost funny. The Florida Gators, whose fans thought the Gators were facing a sure-loss against LSU and could be sporting a losing-record right now, is undefeated. The Florida State Seminoles, whose fans seriously thought of the year as “Championship or bust,” has suffered another tremendous setback in its loss to North Carolina State.

Oh, and as a pleasant bonus on the side, Georgia was blown out by a South Carolina team that looks increasingly-ferocious every week. Of course we have to play the Gamecocks, but we’ll enjoy the Georgia loss for the moment.

Back to our game. Many may have thought the game was ugly–and it would have been three years ago in the Urban Meyer-era–but Florida’s win Saturday over the then No. 4 LSU Tigers was a thing of beauty. It was a testament to the new era, one of down-hill running and stifling defense that Will Muschamp is bringing about as the new style of Gators Football.

What Happened

The defense gave us the chance to win the game: Enough credit cannot be given to the defense this week, as they truly and completely man-handled an LSU offense that is usually not one to laugh at. The defense made the Tigers’ offense look so bad that it looked like what the opening game’s Bowling Green’s offense should have looked like. The Tigers only had 200 yards of total offense, and the Gators made one of the most-feared running backs, Spencer Ware, look pedestrian, as they held him to only 21 yards. Florida wouldn’t have had a chance to win this game without the defense performing the way it did.

Mike Gillislee is a work-horse running back: Gillislee, who carried a career-high 34 times and added 146 yards, showed us something that perhaps we didn’t know before: Gillislee can carry the Florida offense by himself. And that’s just what he did. He scored the only two touchdowns of the game for either team.

Florida proved that it is a much better team than we thought: I doubt most of us thought Florida would be this successful to this point in the season. It’s actually a very refreshing surprise. It’s almost like Auburn and the magic of Cam Newton.

The game was taken from LSU: After trailing 6-0 at halftime, the Gators continued their trend of comebacks that are looking more and more impressive every week.

The receivers didn’t do much: But they didn’t need to. Jordan Reed led the Gators with 30 yards, which pretty much sums up that the Gators didn’t do much passing on Saturday. Luckily, they didn’t need to. The running attack led the charge.

The offensive line continued to show that it’s much better than last year: The O-line gave up a lot of sacks in the first half, but they recovered nicely. The line had their way with an injury-depleted Tigers’ line in the second half, and were responsible for Florida’s success on the ground. Also new was the new formation, “God’s play”.

Jeff Driskel’s participation: Driskel didn’t do much to win the game, but he did have a first down-earning play to allow the Gators to run out a good portion of the clock. Driskel was responsible for a few of his sacks in the first half and showed some qualities of a first-year starter, but he didn’t lose the game for the Gators. And that is something that I think we can live with, knowing that Driskel is continuing to improve.

Offensive Most Valuable Player

Running back Mike Gillislee: Gillislee couldn’t have been much better. He dominated the game and none of his carries resulted in a loss.

Defensive Most Valuable Player

Safety Matt Elam: Elam showed proved his case as the best safety in the NCAA. He led the Gators with seven tackles and looked like the strongest player on the field, despite the fact that he is an undersized safety.

Special Teams Most Valuable Player:

Punter Kyle Christy: Christy’s booming punts were the main reason the Gators won the field-position battle.

Play Of The Day

Matt Elam tackles anything in sight: Louichez Purifoy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Florida Gators 14 – LSU Tigers 6; Mike Gillislee, Defense Lead Gators To Victory

Normally, putting your first points on the scoreboard with only 5:15 remaining in the third quarter of a game would mean doom…unless, you’re the Florida Gators. The Gators wouldn’t score until late in the third, but that first touchdown would give them the lead for good against the LSU Tigers. With the 14-6 win, Florida moved to No. 4 in the AP Poll and No. 6 in the Coaches’ (but more on that later).

Mike Gillislee - Florida Gators

Like any good Florida fan, I was nervous heading into the game. Sure, I had my glass-half-full attitude with me, but I was internally nervous all the same. After all, this was October and this was LSU. Despite the Tigers’ apparent regression over the last couple of weeks, it was still a big team with a lot of wins in the past few seasons – something that can’t be said about the Gators. So nerves battled hope and that war would wage on throughout most of the game. I won’t say the entire 60 minutes because second-half Florida lifted my confidence with each passing minute, but it was close.

I won’t say I was happy with the offensive performance, but I was pleased with what the Gators did late in the game when they had to do it. Remember, this was a good/great LSU defense that Florida was facing. This wasn’t a run-of-the-mill defense the Gators were up against; this was one that has been considered among the best the past few seasons. Despite an average of 3.0 yards per carry (remember, that includes sacks), the run game held it’s own against the Tigers. When Florida needed drives late in the game, it got them. It wasn’t picture perfect, but it fell right in line with the just win philosophy we live by here at The Bull Gator. It doesn’t always have to look good and style points will only get you so far. In the end, you just need to do whatever you can to win. That was Saturday for the Gators. Only 237 total yards on offense. Only 14 points score. A win all the same.

Despite a relative lack of offensive fireworks, there was a star among the unit. One you would expect, but a star nonetheless. It was, of course, senior running back Mike Gillislee. If one player has put this team on his back this season, it’s Gillislee. Lofty predictions will only take you so far, but Gillislee seems determined to get close to his while leading the Gators to victory after victory. He carried the ball 34 times (10 more than his previous career-high) for 146 yards and found the end zone twice. It was a workhorse performance and put Gillislee at 548 rushing yards, 5.3 yards per carry and seven touchdowns on the season. As goes the senior, so go the Gators.

It all came together on the defensive side of the ball. We heard a lot this offseason about how good the Florida Gators’ defense would be. Some even threw out “best defensive line in the nation.” Other would praise the talent in the secondary. Although linebacker play has been inconsistent over the past few seasons, the experience of leaders Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins would shine. Overall, the Gators’ defense was going to win them games and keep them in others. The offense’s job was to limit mistakes, while the defense carried the team. Basically, exactly what we witnessed in the win over LSU.

There are plenty of defensive players to be mentioned here, but let’s go with one for the moment. Matt Elam, Matt Elam, Matt Elam. Elam was determined to knock someone into Sunday. Friend or foe, Elam was out to lay hit after hit. After nearly taking teammate Loucheiz Purifoy out of the game, Elam set his sites on LSU players (a good decision on his part after Purifoy gave him a bit of a death stare). Despite flying all over the field throwing his entire body at Tiger after Tiger, it wasn’t a big hit that will be remembered. Elam’s strip on Odell Beckham was a game-changer. Had LSU maintained the ball, they could be the ones celebrating now. Instead, Elam made a heads up play and one that was more important than we may remember one day. Game ball one goes to Gillislee; game balls two, three, four, and five to Elam.

A hard-fought victory for sure, and one we’ll remember for a long time. While the Florida Gators are still improving and have much to work on, with each week we see a team on the rise. One that does more right than it does wrong, and one that is now more than worthy of that top-10 ranking.

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).

2013 Football Recruiting: Vernon Hargreaves III Commits To Florida; Gators Add 5-Star Cornerback

Wharton (Tampa, FL) cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III made it official on Thursday when he committed to play college football for the Florida Gators. Hargreaves instantly becomes the Gators’ highest rated commit and boosts the overall ranking of the 2013 recruiting class. According to Rivals, Florida now comes in at fifth overall after making Hargreaves their first five-star commitment.

“I can officially say I am committed to THE University of Florida ! #GoGators CHOMP CHOMP” – Vernon Hargreaves III, 2013 Cornerback (via Twitter)

The recruiting services tend to agree on where to place Hargreaves and his elite level of talent. At the highest, he’s the nation’s No. 4 overall player (ESPN) and at the lowest he comes in at No. 15 (Scout). All four major services give him five stars.

Hargreaves is the type that has instant starter written all over him. Once he arrives in Gainesville permanently, Marcus Roberson will be entering his third year with the program and Brian Poole his second. While others such as Loucheiz Purifoy have made strides recently, Hargreaves will compete for playing time immediately. He’s of the instant impact type that recently included cornerbacks like Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins.

Hargreaves chose Florida over Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. Look for more on him in the form of a recruiting report coming soon.

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.

Recapping Florida’s Recruiting Class, Twitter Style

We live in a fast-paced world.  A technology-driven society we are, and one that is sure to be taken over by machines like some bad sci-fi movie from the last 30 years.  It will happen, so in the meantime we need to do our best to get information as quickly and efficiently as possible, you know, before we are all destroyed by the robot overlords.  This is where networks such as Facebook and Twitter come in (shameless plug: The Bull Gator is on both Facebook and Twitter; friend us, follow us, love us).  They provide us with information we never thought we’d have at our fingertips and never knew we needed.  We know when a friend’s child has thrown up, we know when you are going grocery stopping, we know how obsessed you are with Farmville, and most importantly we know the moment a recruit makes the decision of his life.

In honor of Jacoby Brissett committing to Florida last night – something most of us found out via Twitter – we give you a recap of the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, each in 140 characters or less.  Because really, that’s life.  If you believe the way the world is going, you can live your life and biographize yourself in that small a space.  Sad really.  Moving on…
Mike Blakely, RB. Short, but stout. Fast and faster. Cuts are top-notch, adds surprising power. Compact back that can also catch. Man-crush.
Jacoby Brissett, QB. Tall, dominating passer. Can run, but prefers to pass. Good power, velocity, and touch. Competitor. Great addition.
Clay Burton, DE. Brother of Trey, switch positions he just may, lives by the bay, allergic to hay, solid addition okay. Sorry, we had to.
Kyle Christy, K. Rule 1: Have as many kickers/punters as possible on roster.  Rule 2: Sign one of nation’s best. Rule 3: Win special teams.
Jeff Driskel, QB. Nation’s top passer. Pro-style dream. Rocket arm and lightning quick release. Mobile, but doesn’t need to be. Future star.
Jabari Gorman, S. First Will Muschamp commit and hard pushed by the coach. Will look to add bulk and strength to his frame.
Chris Johnson, S. Big hitter. BIG HITTER. Always around the ball. Field intelligence and pursuit speed. And, big hitter.
Tommy Jordan, T. Tall, but needs to add weight. Agile lineman who plays through the whistle and blocks to the second level.
Hunter Joyer, FB. May be most pleased with the offensive change. Nation’s top fullback and absolute mauler. Instant TBG favorite.
A.C. Leonard, TE. Bringing back the tight end.  Wavered, but always came back around. Great size and hands. Can also play slot receiver.
Javares McCoy, WR. We like Lakeland. Speedster with great acceleration and agility. Has the ability to simply outrun the defense.
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB. There’s on-the-field speed and then there’s Purifoy’s on-the-field speed. Great vision on both sides of the ball.
Marcus Roberson, CB. One of the nation’s top CBs. Uses height to his advantage. Ball hawk with great hands and take-it-to-the-house ability.
De’Ante Saunders, S. Pop goes the weasel cause the weasel say pop! Don’t believe the rankings. Saunders is more talented than that.
Valdez Showers, CB. We’re back to that fast thing again. SEC speed is had by many and Showers is one of them. Can stick with anyone.
Graham Stewart, LB. Renamed Steve Lattimer. Find a picture, you’ll see why. Great late addition. Plays much bigger than he actually is.
Ja’Juan Story, WR. Thank you Stan Drayton. Thank you Ohio State for hiring Stan Drayton. Story is a Gator. A tall, receiving Gator.
Trip Thurman, G. A big ‘un. Hard to get off his feet. Great at using his hands to block. Solid pass blocker, can improve run blocking.
Tevin Westbrook, DE. Explosive first step and quick to the ball. Great speed to the outside which he frequently uses to get by linemen.