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.

2014 Football Recruiting: The Florida Gators Look to Build on Strong Class as Summer Approaches

The 2012 football season has long been over. And now with the 2012-13 basketball season coming to an end as well, we turn our attention to football recruiting.

Will Grier - Florida Gators

2013 was kind to the Florida Gators, as the football team put together the type of recruiting class we’ve come to expect. 2014 should be no different and has already produced a group that forms a solid base to build upon.

Before we get knee deep in the entire world of recruiting, player rankings, video analysis, scouting reports and discussions of wants and needs, let’s take a quick look at what the Gators, Will Muschamp and the rest of the Florida coaching staff are working with at this point.

Will Grier, QB, Davidson Day (Davidson, NC) – Grier is not only one of the top quarterback prospects in the nation, but one of the top players overall. While the level of competition is a concern for some, Grier has the tools and talent to succeed at any level and in most systems. He may already be the Gators’ quarterback of the future.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Miami Central (Miami, FL) – Another Florida commit that is among both the top prospects at his position and overall is Cook. There are those already comparing Cook to former Gator great Percy Harvin, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s let Cook become the first Dalvin Cook and not put a label on him as the next Harvin before he is even assigned a locker. All of that said, Cook is an intriguing prospect that can be used in a variety of ways.

Ryeshene Bronson, WR, Dunbar (Ft. Myers, FL) – The Gators are constantly looking to reload at wide receiver. It doesn’t matter what the previous year may have brought, Florida will look for capable pass catchers in each class. Bronson is the first committed for 2014 and has enough height to get fans excited about his arrival. He’ll have to add some bulk to his frame before he can fully compete at the college level, but he should be a contributor once he learns the ropes.

Travaris Dorsey, OL, Raines (Jacksonville, FL) – Dorsey has been working hard to get himself in shape for his senior season and beyond. He’s a true guard and excels at the position. Dorsey has been working on his athleticism and has proven that he is more than just a big body. He will take visits over the summer and is still being recruited by North Carolina and Tennessee, but he remains solidly committed to Florida.

Benjamin Knox, OL, Deland (Deland, FL) – A tackle, Knox is where many high schoolers are at this point in their development. He has the height, but needs the bulk. He’ll have plenty of time to do just that and looks like he could contribute sometime around 2016. Knox has mentioned that an offer from the Gators was a dream and that he is solidly committed.

Joseph Paul, OL, St. Augustine (New Orleans, LA) – While Knox needs to bulk up, Paul–also a tackle–has the size to play at the college level today. He’ll need to develop his game and learn the intricacies of a college offense, but from a size standpoint, Paul has it. Paul was down to Florida and Texas and after picking the Gators has said that the recruiting process is over for him.

Anthony Moten, DL, St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) – Do we like players from St. Thomas Aquinas? Yes we do. Thomas is listed as a defensive tackle even if he does has the frame of a defensive end at this point. That doesn’t mean he won’t play DT at the next level though. Moten is hoping a few others from south Florida will join him in Gainesville, among them cornerbacks Chris Lammons and Quincy Wilson.

Christian Miller, LB, Spring Valley (Columbia, SC) – A top-100 linebacker, Miller projects to play on the outside at the college level. He’s one of those that talks academics as much as he talks football and was looking for the right fit from both sides of the equation. Miller has mentioned that his focus will now shift to recruiting for the Gators, but he still may take visits for the experience.

Duke Dawson, DB, Dixie County (Cross City, FL) – Dawson, a cornerback, chose the Gators over in-state rival Florida State. Although much of his family cheers for the Seminoles, one cousin – 2013 Gators’ signee Marcell Harris – may have pushed him toward Florida. When Dawson committed, he mentioned the Gators had always held the lead, but that doesn’t mean the pressure from FSU will stop.

2014 Football Recruiting: Travonte Valentine Becomes 2nd Commit For 2014; DT Chooses Gators

Ryeshene Bronson is no longer alone. On Sunday, defensive tackle Travonte Valentine joined him as a member of the 2014 recruiting class. The 6’3″, 283-pound DT from Palm Bay, FL (Bayside) recently decommitted from Louisville before pulling the trigger and committing to Florida. He keeps the trend of recent defensive line commits alive.

Valentine attended Friday Night Lights and upon returning home from the event realized where he wanted to be. He contacted head coach Will Muschamp and told him the good news. Muschamp, of course, welcomed Valentine with open arms.

The standout defensive tackle claims that his recruitment is over. He won’t take any additional visits and says he’s solid to Florida. It’s a very long time until the 2014 class signs, so we’ll take those statements for what they’re worth, but Valentine seems to be comfortable with his decision.

2014 Football Recruiting: Ft. Myers Wide Receiver Ryeshene Bronson Commits To Florida Gators

That’s not a typo up there. The year is 2014. The Florida Gators have received their first commitment as part of the 2014 recruiting class. On Thursday, Ft. Myers, FL (Dunbar) wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson became the first 2014 recruit to announce his commitment to the orange and blue.

The 6’3”, 183-pound receiver is a welcome addition at a position that constantly needs numbers. The Gators have been looking for not only go-to receivers, but also depth at the unit. Although it will be some time before we see Bronson in a Florida uniform, this is a great way to start off the class.

Bronson wanted to be done with the recruiting process early and he definitely accomplished that. He chose Florida over offers from Auburn, Florida State, North Carolina and South Carolina. Bronson mentioned comfort with the coaching staff as one of the main reasons he committed to the Gators.