Florida Gators Recruiting: Offensive Tackle Kavaris Harkless Switches from Louisville to Florida

Kavaris Harkless pulled off a last-minute switch on Sunday. The offensive tackle was in Kentucky ready to officially enroll early at Louisville when a certain event changed his mind, leading Harkless to instead commit to Florida.

Kavaris Harkless, Florida Gators

When Charlie Strong eventually left Louisville, Gators’ fans hoped it meant good news for Florida. It did, just not the news they were looking for. With Strong headed to Texas to become the Longhorns’ new head coach, Harkless changed his mind on becoming a Cardinal. Without Strong, Harkless decided Florida would be his new home. He will enroll early.

The 6’5″, 273-pound offensive tackle is a three-star prospect according to most of the major recruiting services (ESPN gives him four stars). The 247 Composite has Harkless as the nation’s No. 76 OT. His key development point will be to add bulk. With the exception of D.J. Humphries, the offensive lineman on the Gators’ roster that have seen significant playing time all weigh in at 300 pounds or more.

Harkless’s commitment comes at a critical time for Florida. In desperate need of depth across the offensive line, the Gators are looking for bodies wherever they can find them. Harkless becomes to sixth linemen to join the 2014 recruiting class.

2012 Football Recruiting: The Top 19 Recruiting Classes; Where Do The Florida Gators Rank?

Why 19 classes? Well, hold your horses; I will get to that.

Like most fans who visit this website, I am a HUGE follower of all things that have to do with college football recruiting. And also like most of you reading this, I find nothing more satisfying than seeing my beloved Florida Gators on top of the team rankings at the end of the recruiting cycle. I am not really sure why; after all, we all know that ranking a bunch of 18-year-old kids who have never played a down of college football is less than scientific and actually a bit idiotic. Regardless, we all love lists and if someone is going to make one, I want the Gators be on top! Sometimes we are even lucky enough to reach that goal, but most of the time we end up falling short (unless we are Alabama).

So now that recruiting is over for the 2012 cycle (well, except for when Stefon Diggs commits to the good guys in about a week), it’s time to look back at the various recruiting sites and see if we can’t come up with a consensus list of the best-of-the-best classes. To start this process, we must select the recruiting services we will use. For my analysis, I used Rivals, Scout and 247Sports. Not only are these three of the top recruiting services in the nation, but they assign a score to each recruit and therefore each college’s class received not only a ranking but also an individual score. ESPN also has a good recruiting service, but I was only able to find their final team rankings without an actual score assigned for each class, so they’re left out of this analysis.

The reason why having a score is important is because in my analysis I am attempting to grade the various classes on a curve. We all remember when we were graded on a curve in college and not being able to stand the brainiac who scored damn-near 100 on every single exam. The same theory applies here. For instance, if Alabama has the No. 1 class and has a total score of 3,000 points and Texas has the No. 2 class and has a total score of 2,999 then I would argue that both of those classes deserve an “A+” grade. On the contrary, if Alabama has a score of 3,000 and the next highest score is 1,500 then you would have to admit that the Crimson Tide were heads-and-shoulders above the rest and subsequently deserve a nice ass-kicking when they came out of study hall.

Another thing I looked for was consistency. I didn’t want to reward a school like Tennessee or Oklahoma State that appeared in the top 25 of one recruiting service but was left off of the others. Therefore, I only included those teams that appeared in the top 25 of all three recruiting services that I reviewed. What was left was the 19 best recruiting classes in the nation.

The final step was to give a number grade to each team for each separate recruiting service. This was actually fairly simple. Let’s take Rivals as an example. Rivals ranked Alabama as the top class with a score of 2,621. Second was Texas with a score of 2,481. Therefore, the Tide received a score of 1.00 in my analysis (2,621/2,621 = 1.00) and Texas got a score of 0.95 (2.481/2.621 = 0.95). So, if a team was ranked No. 1 by all three services, that team would have a total score of 3.00 and would have 100% of the total possible points. I did this for all 19 teams that appeared in the top 25 for all three services, combined the results, took the averages, and voila! (See the chart to the right.)

So there you have it; Alabama wins again! I am sick of hearing that, but it’s comforting that they didn’t come out on top by as much as one might think. Based on the above results, the Tide’s class is ahead of the Longhorns’ by only the slightest of margins. However, Alabama and Texas outdistance the pack by a good margin. The difference between 2.93 (Texas) and 2.78 (Ohio State) doesn’t seem like much, but it’s more than five percentage points.

Then there are our Gators. National Signing Day seemed like a kick to the stomach at times, but Florida actually did pretty well if we look at the entire recruiting cycle. The Gators finished the race in fourth place as the final team to receive a score of 90% or higher. And unlike most teams which are done with their 2012 classes, the Gators haven’t thrown in the towel just yet. If the aforementioned Diggs does indeed choose Florida on February 10, third place overall may be in reach for the orange and blue.

Florida Gators Athletics Schedule: September 5-11, 2011

A little late, but still in road trip catchup mode. One of the events below already occurred, but there are plenty more to come this week. Florida football continues its season and plenty of other sports are in action. Recaps of all we missed will be coming soon. Great time of year to cheer for the Gators with so many of the athletic teams in action. And as we’ve said before, it doesn’t hurt that they’re all pretty darn good.
Monday, September 5

Volleyball – Iowa State – Gainesville, FL – Sun Sports, GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 2:00pm
Friday, September 9
Women’s Cross Country – South Florida Invitational – Tampa, FL
Men’s Cross Country – South Florida Invitational – Tampa, FL
Soccer – FSU – Gainesville, FL – GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 7:00pm
Volleyball – Texas (NIKE Big Four Classic) Palo Alto, CA – GatorZone – 11:00pm

Saturday, September 10

Volleyball – Penn State or Stanford (Campus USA Credit Union Invite) – Palo Alto, CA – GatorZone
Football – UAB – Gainesville, FL – FSN, Sirius 220, XM 199 – 7:00pm

Sunday, September 11

Women’s Golf – Cougar Classic – Charleston, SC
Soccer – Florida Gulf Coast – Gainesville, FL – GatorVision, Sportsradio 850 – 2:00pm

You can check out all past and future schedules at GatorZone, of course, and even see who else is playing in all those various tournaments, challenges and invites.

Friday Night Links: Brandon Siler, Tim Tebow, Travis Taylor, And More

We start off this edition of Friday Night Links with some sad news. The man pictured to your left – former Gator great Brandon Siler – is out for the season. Siler signed a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs during the offseason, but won’t play a down during the regular season over the course of that contracts. As Only Gators reported earlier this week, Siler will miss all of 2011 after tearing his Achilles tendon. This one’s (and every one every Friday) for you Brandon!

Let the (other) links begin…
More on that Tim Tebow guy. (Sports Illustrated)
Holly Anderson of EDSBS fame has surfaced at Sports Illustrated with a blog on, yes, college football.  (Campus Union)

A look at Florida talent from coach to coach. (GatorsFirst)

When you get a job blogging, don’t blog about what’s wrong with blogging and what you didn’t like about blogging when you were a blogger previously blogging at a blog. (Sports Grid)
This is just one, but Chomping At Bits is back with frequency of the daily kind. (Alligator Army)

We always like stories like these: Travis Taylor is back at Florida finishing his degree. (GatorZone)

A Texas fan provides some thoughts on Texas A&M. (Barking Carnival)

And finally, our thoughts are with Pat Summitt. (Go Vols Xtra)

Don’t forget to like The Bull Gator on Facebook and follow us on Twitter – @TheBullGator and @OneEyedWillyUF.

Florida Gators To Play For National Championship

In 2005, the Florida baseball team made it to the finals of the College World Series. The Gators would lose the national championship to Texas that season and ultimately be forgotten not long after when the football and basketball teams went on their magical runs. That Florida squad has a special place in Gators history despite not taking home a title. Until now, it was the baseball team that made it farther than any others – all the way to play for a national championship.
On Monday night in Omaha, the Gators will play for the title again. After defeating Vanderbilt 6-4 on Friday, Florida advanced to the finals where they will face South Carolina – a SEC East rival and, oh yeah, the defending national champions. The teams met in a three-game series earlier this season with the Gamecocks winning two. Both teams are hot – as you would expect by two meeting for the national title – with Florida winning 10 of its last 11 and South Carolina on an eight-game winning streak.
Not only does Florida have a chance to bring home their first baseball national championship, the Gators could become only the third Division 1A/FBS/however-else-you-want-to-say-big athletics program with a title in football, basketball, and baseball. Michigan and Ohio State are the two that currently hold that distinction. By winning, the baseball team would also join men’s indoor track and field and women’s tennis as title winners this academic year.
Florida and South Carolina will play on Monday and Tuesday at 8:00 and Wednesday at the same time if necessary. Each game will be televised by ESPN. And just in case you aren’t pumped enough for Monday, take a look at Gators catcher Mike Zunino breaking his bat. Sure they aren’t aluminum anymore, but it’s still an impressively shocking feat.

Will Muschamp on John Brantley, Chris Dunkley, and CEO Coaches

Florida head coach Will Muschamp is making the rounds from Lakeland, FL to Bristol, CT and has plenty to say about the Gators and his role as leader of the orange and blue.  In Lakeland, Muschamp spoke with a local Gator club.  And in Bristol, it was ESPN (were you expecting me to say someone else?).  Here’s a recap of some of what he talked about (you can visit Alligator Army and Only Gators for more) and of course my thoughts:

• Muschamp supports John Brantley and reminds us that the quarterback position will always receive criticism.  If things go well, you’re the one that made them so.  If things go bad, it’s your fault and no one else’s.  This is true for the most part, but what else do we honestly expect Muschamp to say?  He’s not going to attack a kid who looked like he had confidence problems during his first season as a starter.  Muschamp has to play the role of not just coach, but motivator and supporter for Brantley.  #12 was in a tough position before last season and his performance throughout 2010 didn’t make anything easier for him.  To be honest, no one has any idea what the Gators have at the quarterback position until we all see it with our own eyes during the first game.  This is going to be the main topic of discussion for Florida fans and followers up until and even through the 2011 season.  The “issue” (that’s a nice way of saying problem) isn’t going away and as many guesses as we throw at it, none of us can predict what will happen.  We all just have to keep our fingers crossed for improvement of any kind.
• After the announcement was made that wide receiver Chris Dunkley would transfer, speculation regarding his destination immediately started.  Muschamp has said Florida will not restrict where he can transfer to in any way.  I’m a supporter of this.  Sure, I don’t want to see Dunkley (or Javares McRoy) leave, but it happens.  Losing such a small number during a coaching change might actually be a positive.  Florida isn’t for everyone.  Sometimes things just don’t work out.  You can’t expect every kid to come in and love everything about the school they choose.  For Dunkley, this is what happened.  For whatever reason, it didn’t end up being the place for him.  Things might have been different if he had been eligible for the spring, but he wasn’t and so he’s moving on.  Good for Muschamp for allowing him to try to find the place that’s best for him with no restrictions.
• The big quote from Muschamp from today (which Andy Hutchins expands on here) was “I don’t want to be a CEO head coach.”  Instead of taking it as a statement of what Muschamp is or isn’t, it was immediately seen as a shot at either his former boss at Texas, Mack Brown, or former Gator head man Urban Meyer.  Every coach has a different style.  No two are alike, but it sounds like Muschamp doesn’t want the business-like, running a corporation approach.  You could read what he said as him wanting to just be a football coach.  Not wanting to worry about interviews, etc., but wanting to coach his team.  Muschamp loves being on the field, it doesn’t sound like he relishes some of the other stuff off of it.  He just wants to be himself and he seems to be doing that just fine so far.  It’s hard to question too much of what he’s done since being named a head coach for the first time and if you’re intent on hunting for jabs he might be throwing at others, keep searching.  Methinks he meant exactly what he said and was merely pointing out what he is and what he isn’t.  If it’s a shot at anyone in particular, so be it, but let’s not begin this sort of talk before he coaches his first game.  This was far from a Lane Kiffin-like shot fired.  As for what he said regarding Aubrey Hill and Miami, well…

Florida Gators Name Will Muschamp Head Coach

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 8: Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp of the Texas Longhorns cheers on his team against the Baylor Bears in the second quarter on November 8, 2008 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium in Austin, Texas.  Texas won 45-21. (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)On Friday, it seemed as if Boise State’s Chris Petersen would be the next Florida head coach as rumored swirled that he was meeting with athletic director Jeremy Foley. For the first half of the day on Saturday, rumors pointed to Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops returning to the Gators and agreeing to a mind-shattering 10-year, $55 million deal. Then on Saturday evening, the surprise announcement came. Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp became the 22nd head coach in Florida history.

Sure the announcement came as a surprise, but it shouldn’t come as a disappointment. While rumors circulated citing Petersen, Stoops, and a number of other current head coaches as serious candidates, Foley was working hard on inking a coordinator to a deal. The surprise is because while many had Muschamp on their list of possibilities, almost everyone expected the Gators to go with someone who had pervious head coaching experience. And not just some head coaching experience, but a good amount. In Jimbo Fisher-esque fashion, that wasn’t the case in the end. Florida went with a guy who has yet to be a head coach.

This might be where a little bit of nervousness sets in. The last time Florida named a head coach who hadn’t been a head coach before brought on the Ron Zook era. Remembering that era is sickening to Gator fans and one they work hard to forget. Zook had been in the NFL for the previous six seasons and had never been seriously mentioned as a head coaching candidate anywhere. Not many considered him to have a realistic shot at getting a top job. At times, he was even questioned as an assistant. The same can’t be said about Muschamp.

The now former Longhorn assistant has been linked with a number of head coaching jobs over the past few years and Texas even went as far as to name him their coach-in-waiting. But that’s where the Longhorns went wrong. There was no timetable, Mack Brown was signed through 2016 and had no plans to leave, and there was no buyout clause in Muschamp’s contract. While it made sense for Muschamp to agree to the deal, there was nothing stopping him from leaving for the right job. That job came.

While we’ll never know how much truth there is to this, supposedly Foley only offered one man the job. From the moment Urban Meyer resigned, Foley went after Muschamp. And he got his man, agreeing to a six-year deal with the new Florida head coach. A head coach who knows the city (he lived in Gainesville for 10 years), knows the conference (Muschamp played at Georgia and coached at both Auburn and LSU), and know big games (plenty to mention here). He’s definitely a high energy guy and one that has been given the label of “great” when it comes to recruiting.

Critics will look at Texas’ 2010 season and yell out “huh?!?” but there’s more to that number than Muschamp’s leadership. The Longhorns had a number of problems and Muschamp didn’t suddenly become a bad coach this season. If you’re worried about the 2010 numbers, look back further. In 2008, 18th in the nation in scoring defense. In 2009, 12th. In 2003 – while the defensive coordinator at LSU – the Tigers won the National Championship while Muschamp led the nation’s number one defense in terms of points and yards allowed. 2010 wasn’t ideal, but it was also an extreme outlier.

Muschamp isn’t Stoops. He isn’t even Petersen. But he also isn’t Zook. He’s a solid choice who has a chance to put together a good, young staff that kids love to play for, love to win for, and respect. Muschamp also won’t be the two-year fix type if it works out. Many mentioned Jim Harbaugh as their top choice. Harbaugh wouldn’t have come to Florida, first of all, but he also wouldn’t have stayed after the NFL offers started pouring in. For Muschamp, this is THE job. He, like Fisher at FSU, could find himself with the Gators for the long term if he can get off to a good start. And there’s no reason to believe he won’t. Or at least won’t have every opportunity to.

Florida will always be Florida when it comes to talent. Even Zook pulled in elite players year after year. The problem was Zook couldn’t translate that ability to the field. Even as an assistant, Zook’s abilities were questioned (he was demoted from defensive coordinator to special teams while under Steve Spurrier at Florida). The same can’t be said about Muschamp. Many have been waiting for him to get a head coaching job. It was only a matter of time and he was always linked to substantial programs – Auburn, Clemson, Tennessee, and Washington. Muschamp remained one of the top coordinators to watch over the last few seasons. A program was going to get him and Florida ended up being the one.

As with every hire, time will tell how this plays out. There’s visible nervousness over hiring a man without head coaching experience, but if you’re going to go that route, Muschamp is one of the few you would want. There are those that are disappointed and those that are excited. The same could have been said regardless of who was hired, but this could turn out to be a good one. And one we didn’t have to wait weeks for. That Foley got his man as quickly as he did is extremely important. With recruiting a year-round function of the job, major programs can only be without a coach for so long. Days at the most. Weeks cause problems. Programs such as Florida need to move on and move on quick. The mourning period has to be brief. So in only days, the Gators got a new head coach. One we should all welcome.

Morning Reading: Bobby McCray Returns to the New Orleans Saints

Let’s go all out NFL (with a little Gator flavor) on this glorious Friday.
Former Florida defensive end Bobby McCray will return to the New Orleans Saints for the 2010 season.  The pass-rush specialist was a key member of the Saints’ Super Bowl winning squad last season, but had been released by the team last month.  In the time since he was cut, New Orleans had been working to bring him back though.
McCray rejoins the Saints on a one-year deal where he’ll team up with another former Gator – Alex Brown, formerly of the Chicago Bears – on the defensive line.  New Orleans has positioned themselves to defend their title in 2010.  If they do, another former Florida star will be in line for a ring.  The Saints defensive line should bring back visions of past Gator glory to many Florida fans.
If you were a fan outside of the Big 12 looking in, it was easy to pick Texas’ Colt McCoy as your favorite QB in the conference.  Nothing against Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, but McCoy had that likeability factor about him that made it easy to want him to do well (even if some soured on him during the national championship game).  He played hard and completed a ridiculous percentage of his passes – almost video game like.
When McCoy fell to the third round in the NFL draft this year, many were shocked.  I’m not exactly sure why – where he was picked sounds pretty reasonable to me all things considered – but people were surprised all the same.  Now McCoy has his deal with the Cleveland Browns and is ready to start his NFL career.
The Browns signed McCoy to a four-year deal worth around $5 million – or almost $2 million more than what an individual selected near where he was would normally get.  Cleveland hopes they can get more from McCoy over the course of his career than the did from Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn so pushing a little more money his way wasn’t a tough decision.  With a started nearing the end of his career – Jake Delhomme – it shouldn’t be long before McCoy gets his chance to run the offense.
Not too long from now I’ll have to make my selection of who I want to hang on to in my fantasy football keeper league (Side Note: Don’t join a keeper league.  They suck if you can keep three or more players.  It takes too many years for the tide to shift from the guys who got the league’s top running backs before the first season.  If you finish near the bottom, you’re destined to be there for a while before new great backs start to cycle in.  Then again, I have the #1 pick this offseason.  Welcome to the team Ryan Mathews.)  One of my options is Miles Austin.  I picked up Austin during the season and he did wonders, but there are two reasons I won’t be checking the keeper box next to his name: 1) running backs rule, and 2) Dez Bryant.
Bryant became the first first-round pick to agree to terms thanks to a five-year, $11.8 million deal with the Dallas Cowboys.  If Bryant is half as good as everyone expects him to be, expect that deal to be renegotiated before it’s up.
The former Oklahoma State star will get every opportunity to become a first-team WR early on and should see plenty of passes come his way during his rookie season.  Because of that, Austin may no longer be the #1 WR I’m looking for.  Then again, I’m one of those that finishes near the bottom of the standings every year, so what does it really matter?

Morning Reading: The Future of the Big 12

Skeptical about the future of the Big 12?  You aren’t alone.  One the conference’s head coaches is right there with you in thinking the Big 12 doesn’t have the staying power it might think it does.
Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville doesn’t believe the Big 12 can maintain itself like it’s currently set up.  The problem he says has to do with the difference between the big boys and the rest of the conference.  In conferences like the SEC, revenues brought in from television deals are split equally among the schools.  Alabama and Florida get just as much as everyone else.
That isn’t the case in the Big 12.  Texas is treated differently than the other schools and the other powers have a different deal than everyone else.  A school like Baylor doesn’t have the opportunity to earn as much.
That may or may not be right depending on your feelings about equality or performance, but Tuberville believes it’s what will drive some schools away eventually.  While those schools are fine with sticking with the Big 12 for now, they may always be looking for that better deal.  What if the Big Ten came calling in the future for an Iowa State or a Missouri?  What about the SEC going after Tuberville’s Red Raiders?  Those schools may always be looking for a better opportunity.

The Long Snapper (6/23/10)

College football.  Quick and to the point.
Darrell Scott was one of the most sought after running backs of the 2008 recruiting class.  Florida wanted him.  USC wanted him.  Texas almost got him.  All of the big schools had their eyes on the star back.  He ended up heading to Colorado where his uncle (yes, you read that right) was a wide receiver, but from the beginning it wasn’t a good fit.  Scott never became a featured part of the offense like he had hoped and ended up making the decision to transfer.  Now it seems that USF could be his destination.  Scott posted on Facebook (always a reliable source of information [um…sure]) that he is headed to the Bulls to continue his college career.  If so, it’s a huge get for Skip Holtz.  If Scott can finally be instituted fully into an offense and pull his weight at the same time, he could be something special.  More news on the transfer should be coming soon.
Many fans already believe it, and now some writers do as wellUrban Meyer deserves a great deal of credit for Utah being able to make the move to the Pac-10.  Florida fans remember watching their future head coach lead Utah to an undefeated season in 2004 while wondering which big school would snatch him up.  When he came to the Gators, expectations were high and he has more than lived up to them.  At the same time, Utah has continued to be a force among the non-BCS schools and even registered another perfect season.  Due to their success, they recently became the twelfth member of the Pac-10.  Meyer says you’re welcome.
Colt McCoy was always a fan favorite.  Even though I’ve never been a Texas supporter, I enjoyed watching McCoy and hoped beyond all hope he would beat those damn, dirty Crimson Tide (he didn’t).  McCoy has a great Longhorn career to look back at as he takes his skills to the NFL.  No matter what adversity you may face in your life Colt, always remember the happier times.
Sparty & Friends is counting down to the most important day of the year (it does have a Michigan State title, but don’t worry, a Gator fan posted this) with a new nugget about college football here and there.  Check it out and stay for those other sports that have news from time to time.