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: 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: Athlete Deiondre Porter Commits to Florida

Jefferson has been good to Florida. The Tampa, FL high school gave the Gators the Caldwell brothers and has now given Florida it’s latest star, Deiondre Porter. Porter committed to the Gators on Monday night over Central Florida, Miami, and South Florida. If Porter turns out to be anything like Reche Caldwell–another Jefferson quarterback turned Gators’ wide receiver–we’ll be looking back fondly at his career one day.

Deiondre Porter, Florida Gators

What position Porter does play at Florida remains to be seen, but wide receiver is as good of a guess as any other. However, there are also many who believe Porter will end up playing defensive back as his raw athletic ability could turn him into a better-than-average cornerback. The Gators have some experience with one of those as well. Joe Haden came to Florida as a quarterback-turned-athlete. He turned into one of college football’s better cornerbacks. All Haden has done since is be selected to the 2013 NFL Pro Bowl while making his first All-Pro team as a second team selection. Porter has two great former Gators to model himself after, depending on which side of the ball he ends up on.

As for where he wants to play, Porter said during his announcement that he’ll play wherever Florida coaches feel he’ll help the team the most. It’s a good guess that Will Muschamp and staff will evaluate further once he gets to Gainesville to find the best place for him and the team.

A one-time USF commit, Porter reopened his recruitment upon receiving offers from the Gators and Hurricanes. When he visit went well this past weekend, it was a good indication he would commit to Florida. Porter becomes the 22nd member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class.

Florida Gators Recruiting: Athlete Deiondre Porter to Announce Monday Night

Tampa, FL (Jefferson) athlete Deiondre Porter is ready to commit. The former South Florida commit, will make his announcement on Monday night at 6:00pm and will be deciding between Central Florida, Florida, Miami, and South Florida. For those of you in the greater Tampa Bay area, the announcement will be shown live on Bright House Sports Network.

Deiondre Porter

Receiving offers from the Gators and the Hurricanes was a turning point for Porter. Previously committed to the Bulls, he decided to take another look around when the state’s bigger programs came calling. Porter scheduled an official visit to Florida almost immediately and decided he was ready to announce shortly after. The timing of the visit to Gainesville and his upcoming announcement Monday night has led many to believe he will be committing to the Gators.

Porter’s visit went well, very well. He gave Florida high marks and stressed the opportunity the coaching staff mentioned he will be given. With all going about as well as it could, the Gators may find themselves with another commit come Monday night.

While playing a lot of quarterback at Jefferson, Porter is listed as an athlete and that’s exactly what the Gators want him to be. Will Muschamp and the staff feel he has the versatility to play a variety of positions and they would want to get him on campus and in practice before deciding where to ultimately put him.

Porter receives three stars from each of the major recruiting services. In addition to athlete, 247 lists him as a dual-threat quarterback while ESPN has him listed as a pocket passer. While he did pass for 3,199 yards during his senior season, he also rushed for 1,499, giving 247 the edge when it comes to evaluating Porter as a quarterback. Scout believes he could also play safety and ranks him as the nation’s No. 30 prospect at the position. The 247 Composite ranks Porter at the No. 124 athlete and No. 1,353 prospect overall.

While some of those rankings may seem lower than the average fan’s liking, Porter’s raw athletic ability is what has the Gators interested. Florida feels he can grow at the next level and, once given a permanent position, excel.

The State of the Swamp – 5/28/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

I embark on a new mission. One which consists of scheduled articles that actually post when promised. As discussed many times in the past, these types of posts don’t make it very far here at The Bull Gator. Life has a way of wanting your attention just when you sit down to let you mind focus on the task at hand. Over the past 10 and a half months, life has been a blessing for me. I have spent that time with the most amazing son a man could ask for. Lil’ TBG is doing well and making me smile every day.

They say you make sacrifices when you enter the world of parenthood. For me, that sacrifice has been this website. That’s not a complaint; it’s actually a sacrifice I would make over and over and over again. I’m fine with that, even if that does mean less time with my outlet for all things Florida Gators. But time and time again, I come crawling back to the comfort of this now five-year-old blog. This is one of those times.

I hope to turn The State of the Swamp into a weekly column in which I take a look at recent orange and blue news and offer my opinion. I wouldn’t put money on it popping up every Monday if I were you, but I’m taking my shot. At the least, I can offer this one piece. At the best…well, we have yet to see what the best might be. With that, here’s the first of The State of the Swamp.

Dominique Easley - Florida Gators

Happy Memorial Day. I’m a day behind, hence the reason for this piece posting on a Tuesday and not a Monday. I hope you all had a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend. For those that made the ultimate sacrifice for this great country, our hats are off and are hearts are with you.

David Lee, All-NBA. I’ll move outside of The Swamp for the first bit of Gator news. (That’s something that’s not new here, but will continue. Men’s basketball right alongside football.) The Golden State Warriors forward made the All-NBA team for the first time in his career. Lee was named to the third team after averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds. He also led the NBA with 56 double-doubles over the course of the regular season. Lee was the first Warrior named to the All-NBA team since the 1993-94 season and the first to lead the league in double-doubles since 1963-64. With Lee and others like Bradley Beal, Al Horford and Joakim Noah performing night in and night out in the NBA, the Gainesville to the pros pipeline looks alive and well. Kudos to Lee on a great season. One that saw the Warriors in the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07.

Two decommitments in five days. Christian Miller and Ryeshene Bronson are no longer members of the Gators’ 2014 football recruiting class. In a span of five days, both decommitted from Florida. Miller’s decommitment stings the most because it could be considered a true decommitment. However, don’t count out Miller just yet. Florida is still in the picture along with Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee. Miller believes he reacted a little too soon and would like to take some more time to think about his final decision. Bronson, on the other hand, may have been a forced decommitment. There were concerns over the academic side of things with the wide receiver and many believe when new WR coach Joker Phillips recently visited Bronson it was to tell the recruit that he should look elsewhere. Expect the Gators to fight long and hard for Miller, but we’ve probably heard the last of Bronson being associated with the class.

Take two away, bring one in. While the Gators lost Miller and Bronson, they were hard at work adding a tight end to the class. C’Yontai Lewis–a TE from Tuscaloosa, AL–committed to Florida ($), becoming the eighth member of the 2014 class. 247Sports gives Lewis three stars while Rivals gives the TE two. While Lewis’s rankings may not impress, his 6’5″, 212-pound frame has Florida interested. He could be a climber and won’t be the only TE the Gators look to add to the class. It doesn’t hurt that Lewis’s cousin is Bo Scarbrough, one of the nation’s top athlete prospects. Scarbrough is committed to Alabama, but will visit Florida this summer. I’m not extremely confident we can pull him from the Crimson Tide, but Lewis’s commitment at least cracks open the door.

Jarran Reed isn’t coming to Gainesville. Yet. The junior college defensive tackle won’t be joining his classmates in Gainesville for the Summer B semester, but Reed plans on making his way to Florida eventually. Reed is 25 credit hours short from earning his AA. Those required hours will keep him at East Mississippi Community College through December, but he’s confident he will one day be a Gator. We should see the DT in orange and blue one day, but not as soon as we may have once thought.

It’s going to be a hot one. Those of you planning to make the trip to Miami to watch the Gators take on the Hurricanes on September 7 better be prepared for the heat. Due to a NASCAR event and another choice for the night game, ESPN has put Florida and Miami in the noon slot. It’s going to be a little toasty, so keep the water coming for this one. Although those of you attending the season opener in Gainesville against Toledo won’t have any sympathy for those making the drive south. Kickoff time hasn’t been announced for the opener, but there’s a good chance it will be an early game as well.

Urban Meyer doesn’t regret leaving Florida, but regrets the way he did so. Meyer’s departure will continue to come up as long as he’s still involved with college football. The Ohio State head coach recently said that the way it all happened wasn’t ideal, but it was time to move on. We just can’t quit you Urban Meyer. Or, actually, we can. And most of us have. I won’t bring up the Meyer debate yet again, but as we enter year three with Will Muschamp at the helm, we have other things to think about.

Guess The Ranking: After A 1-1 Week, Where Will The Florida Gators End Up In The Polls?

With Saturday’s 64-52 win over the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Florida Gators finished their second consecutive 1-1 week. The Gators entered the previous 1-1 week at No. 5 in the AP Poll and No. 4 in the USA Today Coaches Poll. One win and one loss later and Florida fell to No. 8 and No. 6. This week was similar–unranked loss, followed by an unranked win. Will the Gators suffer the same fate and drop further in the polls? It’s not always that simple as there are other factors and those factors are the teams ranked around them.

Billy Donovan - Florida Gators

How the top 10 fared:

    • No. 1 Indiana – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, Unranked Win
    • No. 2 Gonzaga – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 3 Duke – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, No. 5/7 Win
    • No. 4 Michigan – 1-0 – Unranked Win*
    • No. 5/7 Miami – 1-1 – Unranked Win, No. 3 Loss
    • No. 6/5 Kansas – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 7/8 Georgetown – 2-0 – Unranked Win, Unranked Win
    • No. 8/6 Florida – 1-1 – Unranked Loss, Unranked Win
    • No. 9/10 Michigan State – 0-1 – No. 16/15 Loss*
    • No. 10/9 Louisville – 2-0 – Unranked Win, No. 12 Win

* No. 4 Michigan hosts No. 9/10 Michigan State on Sunday, March 3.

To the rundown:

    • Despite Indiana’s loss to an unranked opponent–Minnesota–Florida has a similar loss, so the Gators will not pass the Hoosiers.
    • With a perfect week and the least amount of losses on the season–two–among the top-10 teams, Gonzaga made a strong case that it should be the nation’s No. 1 team.
    • Duke’s loss to Virginia hurt, but the entire country watched the Blue Devils win a great one over the Hurricanes. After the Duke win, there’s no chance Florida passes or even catches them in the polls.
    • If Michigan beats Michigan State, the Wolverines stay in the top four and possibly move into the top three. Even if they lose to the No. 9/10 Spartans, the Wolverines still stay ahead of the Gators due to Florida’s loss to Tennessee.
    • Miami’s 1-1 record over the week is better than Florida’s. The loss to the Blue Devils doesn’t hurt the Canes at all, especially when you consider the big win Miami had over Duke earlier in the season. The Canes stay higher in the AP Poll, as they are now, and possibly jump the Gators in the Coaches Poll.
    • Kansas was ranked higher than Florida in both polls and thanks to a 2-0 week stays that way.
    • Georgetown will stay ahead of Florida in the AP Poll and probably jump the Gators in the Coaches Poll thanks to a 2-0 week.
    • Michigan State’s loss isn’t an awful one, but they could be 0-2 on the week after Sunday’s game against Michigan. Those would be two quality losses, but losses all the same. However, if the Spartans upset the Wolverines, there’s a chance they jump the Gators.
    • Louisville’s 2-0 week with an impressive win over Syracuse gives the Cardinals the ammo to jump the Gators in the AP Poll. They have a higher climb in the Coaches Poll, but it’s not out of the question.
    • There’s no real danger of the Gators falling behind a team outside of the top 10. Both No. 11 Arizona and No. 12 Syracuse went 0-2 this week and No. 13 Kansas State has too far to climb.

Looking at all of that, there’s a real chance that Florida could find itself at No. 10 in both polls if Michigan State can defeat Michigan. That’s tough to stomach, but there were five teams ranked higher than the Gators in both polls–Indiana, Gonzaga, Duke, Michigan and Kansas. None of those five will fall below Florida even if Michigan loses to Michigan State. Miami and Georgetown were ahead of Florida in one poll and behind the Gators in another. Both had good enough weeks to claim they should be higher than Florida in both polls. It’s hard to argue with that. Even Louisville has a chance to jump Florida thanks to their 2-0 week. And finally, there’s Michigan State–the wild card if you will. If they lose on Sunday, the Gators are safely in the top nine (and possibly higher) of both polls. If they win, well, see the first sentence of this paragraph.

I, like all of you, was excited by Saturday’s impressive comeback and double-digit win over Alabama. But looking at the polls realistically, it’s hard to imagine Florida moving up in either. Of course, polls mean little in college basketball and this really is just an exercise in guessing and pride (I suppose). It all comes down to NCAA Tournament seedings, but we can have fun in the meantime. So in that spirit, what do you think?

Where do you rank the Florida Gators?

    No. 9 (40%, 4 Votes)

    No. 8 (20%, 2 Votes)

    No. 10 (20%, 2 Votes)

    Top 5 (10%, 1 Votes)

    No. 6 (10%, 1 Votes)

    No. 7 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 10

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2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators NSD Ends With Two Commits

If you watched any portion of National Signing Day, you saw coverage dominated by late-risers in the recruiting rankings, as the likes of Alabama, Ole Miss, Ohio State, and others dominated the late NSD decisions.

You didn’t see as much from the Florida Gators (The number 1 recruiting class on ESPN at the beginning of the broadcast) as you thought you would have. And, despite the fact that many of you would categorize that as “Boring,” it doesn’t necessarily suggest anything to make the Gators’ recruiting class anything less than great.

Let’s look at the Gators’ commitments on National Signing Day. Will Muschamp’s day started well with defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick from Port Saint Lucie, Florida near Miami. The Gators won this battle against mainly Miami and Alabama.

Below is Bostwick’s commitment. Listen to the interview after if you don’t think that playing in the SEC impacts some of these recruits.

In Bostwick, Florida gets a somewhat raw defensive tackle who has only been playing football for a few years. At 280 pounds, Bostwick already has some of the size needed to be a DT in the NFL, and the next few years will be spent building more muscle (Jeff Dillman), while adding technique (Bryant Young).

And here are some highlights from Bostwick’s junior year:

While many of Florida’s commitments were sending in their LOIs, there was a rumor that Tashawn Bower, an Auburn commit had sent his LOI to the Gators. He was widely thought by many to be headed to either Auburn or Florida, but in the end, none of those rumors proved to be true. And, well, Bower chose LSU.

The next news for the Gators came in the afternoon when another DT, this time a JUCO from East Mississippi Community College, Jarran Reed picked the Gators over Ole Miss and Alabama. EMCC continues to be very good to the Gators, where Florida gets DTs Reed and Darious Cummings this year, and where they got immediate-impact Damien Jacobs from last year.

After National Signing Day, the Florida Gators signed the No. 2 punter in the nation Ryan Townsend, who had been previously committed to Ohio State. And not long before that, OL/TE Trevon Young determined that he wished to be a Gator when he decided against a scholarship offer to play basketball, his true passion, at Eckerd College. Young is VERY raw, so we’ll see how his development at Florida goes.

The Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, should end up at a final number of 30, the most in school history. But the Gators didn’t just add depth for no reason. With recruits at nearly ever position on the team, the Gators filled their needs well with talent that could serve as a building block for future Will Muschamp teams. Though time will tell, this years recruiting class looks like it could end up being one of the bests in school history.

Transfer: CB Willie Bailey To Leave Florida Gators After Falling On Depth Chart

Freshman cornerback Willie Bailey will transfer after one season with the Florida Gators during which he saw no action on the field. Bailey was to receive a redshirt after not getting on the field during the 2012 season. Despite coming back in 2013 with four full years of eligibility remaining, Bailey decided to look for playing time elsewhere.

A three-star recruit out of Hallandale, FL (Hallandale), Bailey was one of the top 100 players in the state of Florida coming out of high school according to 247Sports. He was considered one of those fly-under-the-radar types and committed to Florida over Miami. He had an uphill battle to crack the depth chart, but he enrolled early and by all accounts had a productive spring. Throughout the 2012 season, Bailey reportedly fell back though. Not seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of cracking the depth chart, he decided it was time to move on. No word yet and where Bailey will resurface.

Aubrey Hill Resigns To Avoid Being “Distraction”

By now, you know Aubrey Hill has resigned from his position as the Florida Gators wide receivers coach. Hill – linked to the Miami Hurricanes scandal – cited personal reasons, mentioning that he didn’t want to be a distraction. While the Nevin Shapiro case wasn’t mentioned specifically, it’s easy to make the connection. The NCAA is investigating the situation and Hill is one of the primary players mentioned. In all honestly, it’s probably best for all that he’s no longer a part of Florida’s staff.

From a football standpoint, Hill was a pro/con type of guy. On the pro side, he was viewed as an outstanding recruiter and an up-and-comer on the recruiting scene. Hill connected with players and was able to bond with them throughout their recruitment. But there lies the rub as well. “Players’ coaches” aren’t always, well, good coaches (see: Ron Zook); and that’s the con side. Hill’s coaching abilities were questioned and it was widely wondered how far he could take the receivers. He could bring them to Gainesville, but beyond that everyone wondered.

Regardless, the Gators have now moved on and will employ a temporary solution for the time being. Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan – a former Boise State quarterback – will oversee the wide receivers for now with a heavy dose of mentoring by offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Appeal Denied, Defensive Tackle Dante Phillips Commits To Tennessee

After Dante Phillips was told he wouldn’t be able to enroll at the University of Florida, he tried again. After his appeal was denied and it became painfully clear he wasn’t going to play college football for the Florida Gators, he looked elsewhere. That elsewhere became clear this week. Phillips has committed to play for one of Florida’s fiercest rivals – the Tennessee Volunteers.

Phillips had also looked at Miami after he was told Florida wasn’t a possibility. In the end, his desire to stay in the SEC and “show Florida what they missed out on” may have won out. The Gators will see plenty of him in the future…in the wrong orange.