2013 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Add James Hearns

Thursday wasn’t the first day 2013 prospects could commit to their school of choice, but it sure felt like it was. Earlier in the day, the Florida Gators added linebacker Daniel McMillian and then it was announced that defensive end/linebacker James Hearns had committed as well. Hearns, from Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln), fits the mold of 3-4 outside linebacker and possibly even defensive end in the 4-3. Yes, that means he fits into the position we have come to known as the buck.

The 6’3″, 230-pound Hearns is the No. 192 overall player in the nation according to 247 and the No. 11 strong-side defensive end. He joins 2012 signee Raphael Andrades as Gators from Lincoln and might not be the last. Wide receivers Reggie Davis and Taj Williams are also targets and among the nation’s best pass catchers. The pipeline between Florida and the Tallahassee school may be open and some thanks could go to former Gator All-American Jacquez Green who is currently the high school’s offensive coordinator.

With the fast start to 2013, make sure you check the 2013 Gators Football Recruiting Class page frequently.

2012 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Experience The Ups And Downs Of National Signing Day

Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators didn’t quite bring in the nation’s second-best class, but it was close and there’s still a chance for it to improve. At this moment, the Gators’ 2012 recruiting class ranks as high as third (Rivals) and as low as fifth (Scout). Even with National Signing Day coming to an end, Florida waits on one final prospect – Stefon Diggs. Diggs won’t sign until February 10, so we have plenty of time to reflect on the day the just was.

Overall, the Gators have a good class, but NSD left many wondering what could have been. Josh Harvey-Clemons choosing Georgia wasn’t a surprise, but his grandfather’s reaction was. Tracy Howard himself told us he was 100% ready to sign with Florida before visiting Miami. That one trip completely changed his world and Howard will play for the Hurricanes. Jake Meador, Schyler Miles and Vincent Valentine were all prospects expected to go elsewhere and they all did, but any of the three would have been a welcome addition to the class. Like some of the other signings, Leonard Williams to USC wasn’t shocking, but there was hope there. Go back a few months and you would have thought Avery Young was a lock. That all changed and after a blunder by whoever runs Georgia’s athletic site, Young signed with Auburn. And finally, there’s Nelson Agholor. It had long been thought the star athlete was down to the Gators and Trojans. As NSD approached, USC was rumored to be the leader. With each passing day it seemed unlikely Florida would gain his commitment. In the end, he headed west.

Reading that paragraph once is one time too many, but was it really all that bad? On NSD alone, the Gators added Dante Fowler Jr. and Raphael Andrades to the class. It’s also worth noting that Florida didn’t lose anyone. Then there’s Diggs, who many think the Gators will add. And, oh yeah, don’t forget that the recruiting cycle doesn’t just consist of NSD. All four major recruiting services have Florida’s class ranked among the nation’s top five. Top-five class, three five-star prospects (which according to Rivals ties Florida with Alabama, Stanford and USC for the most) and a real shot at another is something to be happy with. And we are; we definitely are even if there are questions.

Did Muschamp get the numbers he wanted? Did the Gators fill holes on the depth chart? Is there enough depth? When will Florida finally have a full roster again? Are the players the Gators did get being overshadowed by NSD despite the addition of a top recruit and another at a position of need?

Those of us that follow recruiting have a tendency to focus on who our team didn’t get when we really should look at who they did. Some of those questions above can be answered. The Gators could use more bodies and have a need at wide receiver and offensive line. Depth is easy to answer, but hard to do so accurately until we see how injuries impact the roster. There were definitely some misses, but also some hits. This is a good class, but one that could use more names. Four or five years from now we’ll look back and evaluate how it panned out and the success it had on an individual and team basis. For now, we wait for Diggs. NSD is over, but the door might not be shut just yet on the Gators’ class.

2012 Football Recruiting: Dante Fowler Jr. Switches To Florida; Five-Star Defensive End Spurns Florida State

Dante Fowler Jr. originally committed to the Florida State Seminoles in 2010. Yes, you read that right; the five-star defensive end was a member of the ‘Noles’ 2012 recruiting class for over a year. Despite that, he seemed to sway back and forth between FSU and the Florida Gators for most of that time. There were rumors he would eventually make the switch; then there were those saying he was 100% committed to FSU. Fowler himself added to the speculation by going back and forth. It almost seemed as if a different answer would come out every day. Then we arrived at National Signing Day and Fowler made his choice. The DE signed with the Gators and will wear the orange and blue.

On a day when many of the big names Florida was still in play for signed elsewhere, Fowler was the shining star. Not long after Raphael Andrades gave us a pleasant surprise, Fowler practically blew us away. He joined a class that already contained a large number of defensive linemen, but there are many different roles to fill. From 4-3 end to 3-4 end to defensive tackle to the buck position, there are a number of spots to fill. At 6’3″, 232 pounds, Fowler looks like another great fit for the buck. His talent is such that he may become the backup at the position to Ronald Powell simply by stepping foot on campus.

If you followed Fowler’s recruitment, the switch wasn’t entirely out of the blue, but that’s doesn’t make it any less important. The Gators added a great player when the announcement was made and grabbed a commitment from their biggest rival.

2012 Football Recruiting: Raphael Andrades Surprises; Florida Gators Sign Wide Receiver

Raphael Andrades would have walked on to the Florida Gators’ football team if he had to. On Tuesday night, he found out he would be able to play for the Gators, but as a roster member with a full scholarship. Needing help at the wide receiver position, Florida has long looked at Andrades, but the Gators weren’t sure how the rest of the 2012 recruiting class would pan out. As it became evident they would have room for him, they extended an offer and the Tallahassee, FL (Lincoln) WR couldn’t be happier.

“Orange and Blue was in my blood.” – Raphael Andrades, 2012 Wide Receiver

On Wednesday morning, as we were all caught up in all the is National Signing Day, a letter of intent came in from Andrades. It surprised most, but was welcomed by all.

Andrades is coaches by Lincoln offensive coordinator and former Gators’ star receiver Jacquez Green. The former All-American believes recruiting rankings don’t mean everything and that Andrades should do just fine at the next level. The 6’0″, 190-pound WR also had offers from Arkansas, Stanford and Vanderbilt, but had one school at the top of his list throughout the process.