“10 Things I Want Out Of The 2012 Florida Gators Football Season” – One Eyed Willy

We spend so much time discussing what’s best for the Florida Gators; what will help the sports teams both on and off the field. From time to time, we decide to be selfish though and discuss what’s best for us. These thoughts could help the football team or they could help us as fans. We may want a certain player to succeed because he’s a vital part of the roster or just because we like his jersey number. Whatever the case, these are the things we want out of the Gators’ 2012 football season. Up first, One Eyed Willy.

10. Less trouble off the field. Let’s be honest…ultimately it’s what happens on the field that we all care about. If we were going 12-0 and in the BCS Championship game, few fans would have a problem with the recent “misfortunes” of our players off the field. But, being a graduate of the University of Florida, I would hope that at some point the players can start realizing that any trouble they get into will be on the cover of the next day’s sports section and will be a black eye not only on themselves, but the entire football team and the university. At some point the double-digit arrests per year have to stop – or at least slow down.

9. A big time punt returner. I still remember sitting in the stands chanting “Lito, Lito, Lito!” before #3 would take one to the house. And while our punt block team was superb last year, I am still waiting for the next Brandon James or Keiwan Ratliff to step back there are take a couple punts the distance. We have tried several different punt returners over the last few years, but none have been very impressive in my eyes and some have been downright awful. So maybe 2012 is the year someone surprises me and becomes another weapon to compliment those 10 guys up front who have certainly been holding their own.

8. Recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. As a self-proclaimed recuitnik, I realize that recruiting is a 365-day process. The 2013 recruiting class is off to a great start – probably the best start that we have ever had – but we are to the point now where we don’t just need great recruits, we need great recruits to fill some great big holes we have in the roster. Priority #1A and #1B is to find several highly rated wide receivers and offensive lineman. With our defensive line being stacked as much as I remember it being in the recent past, it’s time to focus on the offensive side of the ball and attract some guys that can not only play right away, but help this team win sooner rather than later.

7. More Matt Elam. I don’t care where he is on the field or what he is doing…I want to see more Matt Elam! Even though Elam is only a junior next year, there is a good chance that this could be our last time seeing him wear the Gator orange and blue. Elam is the heart and soul of this defense and we live or die by how much he gets involved in the game. So let Elam throw a couple of passes. Let him play running back some. Hell, let the guy punt or placekick. I really don’t care. Just put Matt Elam in a position to make plays and let’s see what happens.

6. Beat Texas A&M in Week 2. I talk more about wins in general further down my list, but I truly believe that this is a big game for the Gators. Not only are we playing a good team in week 2 (something we don’t often do), but we are playing at their stadium (one of the tougher places to play in the country) and against a team that will be playing in their very first SEC game. The Aggies would like nothing more than to send a message to the entire league that they have arrived by knocking one of the big boys off the first chance they get. We cannot let that happen. In order for the 2012 season not to be over before it really even starts, we must take care of business in College Station.

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2013 Football Recruiting Report: Adam Lane – Running Back – Winter Haven, FL

One month ago today, Adam Lane became the first member of the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class. The running back from Winter Haven, FL (Winter Haven) wasn’t alone for long; only four weeks later he was one of 10 recruits committed to the Gators. Along with Kelvin Taylor, Lane hopes to run wild for Florida for years to come.

The Rundown

Name: Adam Lane
Position: Running Back
Height: 5’7″
Weight: 207
Hometown: Winter Haven, FL
High School: Winter Haven
Class: 2013
Rankings: 247Sports – 3 stars, No. 42 RB | ESPN – ESPNU 150 | Scout | Rivals
Status: Committed to Florida

The Report

An injury can do more than just force a player to miss time. It can impact the initial rankings he receives from recruiting services. While those services are just a guide and not always accurate predictors of how a prospect will turn out, they are a starting point and Lane starts with some ground to make up. Thought to be one of the better running backs in the nation entering his junior season, an ankle injury didn’t allow him to prove it. With so much time away from the field, Scout and Rivals didn’t rank him initially while 247Sports believes Lane is the nation’s No. 42 running back worthy of three stars and ESPN puts him in the ESPNU 150. From unranked to one of the 150 best players in the nation; if that doesn’t give you a prime example of the differing opinions available in the recruiting world, not much else will.

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2013 Football Recruiting: Kelvin Taylor Commits To Florida; Gators Add Top 2013 Running Back

Belle Glade, FL (Glades Day) running back Kelvin Taylor has committed to play football for the Florida Gators. The Florida legacy – scheduled to attend Florida’s Junior Day on Saturday – has made his decision public. Taylor – son of Gators’ great Fred Taylor – chose Florida over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Taylor is regarded as one of the nation’s top running backs. The state’s high school career rushing leader will take his talents to Gainesville where his father was a star in the 1990s. The younger Taylor ends speculation early in the process and was one recruit that definitely made Florida fans nervous over the last few months. While he has always been extremely pro-Gator, Taylor has also been positive toward the Tide via his Twitter account.

Florida now has two running backs already committed as part of the 2013 recruiting class. Taylor joins Winter Haven’s Adam Lane and the duo may eventually become a trio. There has been plenty of talk about the Gators taking three backs as part of the class after landing only Matt Jones in 2012.

The fast start to the 2013 cycle is a welcome occurrence for fans that weren’t entirely satisfied with the 2012 class. It’s hard to be down on a class ranked as highly as the Gators’ was, but minimal offensive playmakers at key positions such as wide receiver and, of course, running back had many looking forward to 2013. Taylor joins a class that is already turning out to be a very good one more than 11 months before National Signing Day.

The Gators Need For Running Backs Increases With Mike Davis’s Decommitment

On Sunday, Mike Davis announced he was no longer committed to the Florida Gators. The announcement wasn’t a surprise as rumors had been brewing for weeks regarding Davis’s displeasure with the coaching staff’s pursuit of other running backs. While Davis’s loss specifically may be tough to swallow, the loss of a committed running back makes it impossible to keep down.

The Gators experienced numerous injuries to their running backs over the course of 2011. Add that to the fact the Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey will be gone and you have a heightened need for depth. It now starts with Matt Jones, but must continue with at least one more commitment at the position.

For more on Davis’s decommitment and Florida’s need at the position during the current recruiting cycle, check out my piece on the matter at Alligator Army.

High School Football At It’s Best

I like high school football more than the average Joe. Not really sure why, but I think it has something to do with the fact that although I played youth ball growing up, I was never big enough, fast enough, strong enough, or good enough to make it at the high school level. Granted I went to high school in South Florida where football is more than a religion so there were a lot of people in the same boat as me. I also tend to focus on high school football more than others because I have been coaching youth football now for the past six years and a lot of the players that I began coaching are now playing on the high school level. So following them and their teams is something I really enjoy doing.
That’s why I get a little bit excited when Rivals releases their preseason RivalsHigh 100, which lists the top 100 high school teams nationally. You think picking a preseason poll in college is hard and a giant waste of time – try picking a high school top 100. No thanks! Luckily, Rivals does it for us and since Rivals has a partnership with Yahoo! Sports, it makes it very easy to get weekly updates throughout the high school football season.
This year I decided to take the preseason RivalsHigh 100 and look more closely at some of the teams on it (both in Florida and nationally) where Florida may have a committed player from or where they may be targeting a kid from. This way if you hear the name Don Bosco Prep, it may mean more to you than just some rich, prep school in New Jersey. Just for fun, I also list the Florida schools that the Gators don’t have a target at, since most of the people who will read this are probably residing in the Sunshine State.
• #2 Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, NJ): DE Darius Hamilton
• #5 Armwood (Seffner, FL): RB Matt Jones (committed)
• #7 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, NV): OL Ronnie Stanley
• #10 St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL): No current targets
• #12 William T. Dwyer (West Palm Beach, FL): OL Patrick Miller
• #13 Cocoa (Cocoa, FL): No current targets
• #16 Sandy Creek (Tyrone, GA): DE Quinteze Williams (committed)
• #17 Stephenson (Stone Mountain, GA): RB Mike Davis (committed), DT JaFarr Mann (committed), LB Raphael Kirby (currently committed to Miami), DE Jarontay Jones (currently committed to Virginia Tech)
• #18 Miami Norland (Miami, FL): No current targets
• #27 Buford (Buford, GA): TE Kurt Freitag, OL Vadal Alexander
• #34 Christopher Columbus (Miami, FL): DB Deon Bush
• #36 Manatee (Bradenton, FL): No current targets
• #41 Oaks Christian (Westlake Village, CA): WR Jordan Payton
• #49 Mallard Creek (Charlotte, NC): OL D.J. Humphries (committed)
• #54 Our Lady of Good Counsel (Olney, MD): WR Stefon Diggs
• #56 Lincoln (Tallahassee, FL): No current targets
• #66 Lowndes (Valdosta, GA): LB Josh Harvey-Clemons
• #67 Glades Central (Belle Glade, FL): No current targets
• #68 Aquinas Institute (Rochester, NY): ATH Cyrus Jones
• #82 Lakeland (Lakeland, FL): OL Evan Goodman (currently committed to Arizona State)
• #83 Miramar (Miramar, FL): DB Tracy Howard, WR Malcolm Lewis
• #84 Winter Park (Winter Park, FL): WR D’Vario Montgomery
A little extra tidbit of information: Florida and Texas lead the country with 12 teams each in the initial RivalsHigh 100. California has 10 teams. And just something that I saw that caught my eye: Pennsylvania has three teams in the RivalsHigh 100, two of which are named Central Catholic High School. Way to go La Salle, way to ruin the fun!

Alligator Army Recruit Report: Matt Jones, RB, Armwood

After a few days off, the Alligator Army Recruit Reports are back and I am continuing to profile those prospects committed to Florida. For those of you looking to find out more about those still undecided, do not fret, they are on their way.

Today’s report covers Armwood (Seffner, FL) running back Matt Jones. The 6’2″, 200-pound Jones is a four-star recruit and rated No. 157 overall by Rivals. And that may actually be considered low. Jones is expected to not only be one of the best players in the Tampa area during his senior season at Armwood, he is expected to be one of the best in the state of Florida (which means, well you know what it means, it means he is extremely talented).

Jones is the bigger type of running back the Gators have not seen in years. To watch highlights of his junior season and read the full report, head over to Alligator Army.

Matt Jones Commits to Florida, Happy Fun Dance Follows

If you’ve never seen the Happy Fun Dance, you’re missing out.  Few things in life can compare to it and it only comes out in those situations that really warrant it.  You must do it with caution because if not you can seriously hurt yourself.  Loud rap music is played, there’s ample bouncing around as if you have contracted some sort of rare fever, and there could even be a man hug or two.  The last time a true one occurred, Florida had just finished off Oklahoma to win the National Championship.  This time around it may not be of that intensity and joy level, but there’s definitely a little dancing going on.  The feet are moving almost as much as when the Gators picked up Percy Harvin.*

Yesterday, Armwood’s (Seffner, FL) Matt Jones confirmed his intention to attend the University of Florida.  This is good news on many levels and mostly because Jones is extremely talented at the football.  Like could be one of the top players in not only the state but the entire nation talented.  That’s not just TBG hopped up and excited talk.  That’s legitimate.  Jones is that good.  He’s 6’2”, 200 lbs. of power and speed.  He’s the exact type of back Florida has been trying to get for years, but has been unable to secure.  Expect him to add to his already impressive frame and be one of those that sees the field plenty right away.  Of course these are the Gators we’re talking about; plenty of players see the field often early.
We already have a man-crush on Jones.  We can’t help it.  The kid comes from Armwood.  Here’s what you need to know about what Armwood has supplied the Gators with recently: Torrey Davis, Matt Patchan.  Okay, okay.  Davis didn’t end up with the career we all envisioned, but his contribution to taking home the crystal ball only a few years ago was great and therefore he will always get a pass in our book.  As for Patchan, when he plays, he excels.  Problem is he doesn’t play too much, but we can give him some slack for the time being.  After all, he did get shot.  Unlike Plant (Tampa, FL), Armwood seems to like Florida and like sending some of their better players to the Gators.  Jones is the latest and could be one of the best.  As for the other reasons, well there are plenty.  Go watch a highlight video or two.  Head to a game this fall.  Check out Jones every chance you get.  Him good.  Oh so good.  Now we just have to wait 11.5 months for him to sign on the line.
* Harvin, Reggie Nelson.  Neither can do wrong.  You should know this by now.

Morning Reading: Football is Back

Enjoy the day knowing that football season has finally returned.  All is right with the world and there are actual games being played.  Sure, games that don’t count, but games all the same.  A game of any kind is better than nothing.  So stop pretending you’re actually following baseball.  Stop believing you actually care what happens during the NBA offseason.  Football is back.  You have something to do for the next few months.

• Football returned with a thrilling matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame Game.  For three breath-taking quarters we saw one field goal scored in each before scoring blew up in the final frame with each team scoring an entire touchdown.  The Cowboys would hold on to win it in a game that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Okay, that’s enough of that.  It’s the preseason and the preseason is tough to watch even for the most diehard of fans.  The players you know are typically out by halftime and you’re left with former college players hanging on to the dream.  Occasionally someone steps up and shows you something, but for the most part, it’s a glorified scrimmage at that point.
The story of the night was the debut of former Cowboy wide receiver Terrell Owens in a Bengals uniform.  Owens finished the night with two catches for 18 yards or two more catches and 18 more yards than either Chad Ochocinco or Andre Caldwell.  Former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Matt Jones led Cincinnati with three catches for 42 yards.  Yes, it’s appropriate to refer to the Bengals as the team of second, third, fourth, and final chances.
It wasn’t pretty and was far from thrilling, but it was football and it’s back.
Denver Broncos sackmaster Elvis Dumervil will learn his fate on Tuesday.  The outside linebacker will undergo surgery which should determine if he will be able to return at all during the 2010 season.  Possible replacement Jarvis Moss also hurt himself, but he could be back after only a few weeks.
Florida fans were up in arms after Emmitt Smith didn’t mention the Gators during his Hall of Fame induction speech.  I have to ask, why?  It may have been nice to hear Smith go off for a few minutes about his school and let us all know how much the orange and blue meant to him.  It would have been great to have him recount a story or two from his days as a Gator.  But again, why be upset that he didn’t?
It was Smith’s moment.  Not the University of Florida’s.  Some mentioned that if Tim Tebow were to one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame that he would be sure to mention the Gators.  Maybe, but he’s not Smith.  And Smith had no obligation to mention anything.
What we saw this weekend was one of the greatest players in Florida history and NFL history inducted into the Hall of Fame.  He could have spent 20 minutes talking and not mentioned the Dallas Cowboys and it may have been odd, but the world still would have turned.  Just like Steve Spurrier didn’t owe it to Smith to ensure him he would be part of the offense when Spurrier came aboard at Florida, Smith didn’t owe it to anyone to have to mention them.  It was his moment and he could say what he wanted to.
During the game last night, Smith apologized and recognized Florida, the Gators, and Urban Meyer.  Most will say that he only did so because of the backlash.  Others won’t care.  You should be among that second group.
As a Florida fan, enjoy the moment.  Be proud that one of your own is now a member of the Hall of Fame.  Far too often we worry about what people say or don’t say.  Smith’s actions on the field as a Gator and beyond are all the words we need.