The Long Snapper (6/11/10)

College football.  Quick and to the point.  All new issue free of expansion talk!
USF’s football team is making progress in terms of academics.  The Bulls’ four-year score increase matched Illinois for largest in the nation.  USF achieved a 956 this year raising their four-year score from 909 to 930.  Four years ago, the Bulls scored an 879.  Quite an improvement in that span.  And in case you’re wondering, the lowest score in the Big East goes to Louisville at 926.  Get those kids headed in the right direction Charlie!
Remember Demar Dorsey?  Sure you do.  Super recruit who committed to Florida, flirted with Tennessee, and then signed with Michigan.  Well folks, he won’t end up a Wolverine.  After qualifying academically (supposedly), Dorsey wasn’t admitted by Michigan.  It’s rumored prior charges may have had something to do with it.  Dorsey had previously been charged with two felonies – one was dismissed and he was acquitted of the other.  The defensive back was recruiting by virtually every big school and could end up anywhere now that he has been released from his letter of intent.
The Colorado Rockies seem to have a thing for college football quarterbacks.  They have a couple of former SEC QBs in their organization and just added two from the ACC.  With the 26th pick in the draft, the Rockies took Clemson quarterback Kyle Parker.  Earlier this season, Parker became the first athlete to throw 20 passes and hit 20 homeruns in one academic year in division one college athletics history.  Being selected that high could mean Parker won’t be returning to the Tigers’ football team.  Colorado may offer him more than enough money to make that decision for him, but head coach Dabo Swinney hopes Parker realizes he’s an extremely talented football player as well.  First round talent though?  Probably not.
In the fourth round, the Rockies selected NC State quarterback Russell Wilson.  Wilson threw 31 touchdown passes to lead the ACC last season and hit .306 for the baseball team.  Unlike Parker, he already seems sure of his future.  Wilson would like to see what he can do in the Rockies system as well as return to play QB for the Wolfpack.  He’s hoping arrangements can be made for him to do both.

Breaking Down the Florida Gators’ 2010 Recruiting Class – Part 3

Previous breakdowns: Part 1, Part 2
Jordan Haden
DB – 6’0″, 198 lbs. – Fort Washington, MD – Friendly
With the bevy of talent coming in at defensive back, Haden almost seems forgotten at times.  For the last few months everyone has wanted to talk about Matt Elam, Joshua Shaw, Jonathan Dowling, Cody Riggs, and ever Demar Dorsey.  Many tend to forget Haden is already enrolled and adjusting to life at Florida.  Don’t sleep on the latest Haden to suit up for the Gators.  He could make a big impact sooner than many think.  And hopefully the Haden-to-Florida line doesn’t stop with him.
Darrin Kitchens
LB – 6’3″, 215 lbs. – Homestead, FL – Homestead
Along with Adrian Coxson and Chaz Green, Kitchens was one of the Signing Day commits.  Take a look at his rankings and you might not be all that impressed, but Kitchens in an extremely athletic linebacker that could see time at a few other positions as well.  He’s one of those never stop going guys that is every coach’s dream.  A redshirt is most likely in his immediate future, but he should provide solid play for years after that.
Michael McFarland
TE – 6’6″, 230 lbs. – Tampa, FL – Blake
McFarland was headed toward a grayshirt season before Dorsey dropped/was dropped.  It also didn’t hurt that Auburn started to put the full-court press on the Tampa tight end.  McFarland’s grayshirt future lasted only a few short days and he will instead now join his fellow classmates as a freshman in the fall.  McFarland is a project who won’t see the field for a while, but should be more than ready when he does.
Tyler Murphy
QB – 6’2″, 190 lbs. – Wethersfield, CT – Wethersfield
Murphy is the question mark of the class.  Rivals.com rates him as a two-star dual-threat quarterback and the tenth-best prospect from the state of Connecticut.  To many that doesn’t sound like Florida Gator material, but Murphy is a QB who can run effectively with the ball and may have a better arm than you think.  Having run a spread offense in high school helps his transition to Florida.  Murphy may not end up spending his entire career at quarterback, but is an intriguing prospect nonetheless.
Leon Orr
DT – 6’4″, 300 lbs. – New Port Richey, FL – Gulf
Orr gets a little lost in the shuffle behind those other defensive linemen ranked near the top of most recruiting lists, but he shouldn’t.  A great overall talent for someone his size, Orr will most likely play defensive tackle for the Gators.  He should make the adjustment well given his strength.  Orr may also be used to provide depth along the offensive line.  Think of him as the Matt Patchan type that could be used a variety of different ways.
Solomon Patton
WR – 5’10”, 175 lbs. – Mobile, AL – Murphy
Although Chris Dunkley is the one everyone mentions, Patton may be a step ahead of the other receivers because he enrolled early.  Patton possesses above average speed, but his biggest strength may be his field vision.  He has that ability to find open space similar to what Percy Harvin had.  Not that I’m comparing Patton to Harvin, but he does have a great ability to know where to run and how to get into the open field.  Patton could see time early depending on how the depth chart shapes up.
Ronald Powell
DE – 6’4″, 230 lbs. – Moreno Valley, CA – Rancho Verde
The star of the class, Powell gives Florida the top prospect in the nation.  Whether it’s at defensive end, outside linebacker, or tight end, Powell will make an immediate impact.  He has all the tools to star at any position and according to coaches could play multiple.  Although that’s said much more often than it actually happens.  Expect Powell to be one of the top contributing players for years.  And expect Florida coaches to use his success to pluck a few more future Gators out of California.
Come back tomorrow for the final part.

The Long Snapper (2/5/10)

Looking over the “troubles” Florida players have had over the past few years, making fun of other programs and their legal issues pretty much defines throwing stones in a glass house, but I will be quick to point out Michigan fans aren’t too up on the idea of Demar Dorsey suiting up for the Wolverines.  Talent aside, the recent news regarding his checked past isn’t warming him up to the Michigan faithful.  And Rich Rodriguez’s decision to bring him aboard definitely hasn’t helped RR finally get some supporters in his corner.  This is Rodriguez’s make-or-break season with the Wolverines.  I tend to think it’s leaning toward break.
Although it is that of FSU, here’s an interesting look at National Signing Day from inside one of the war rooms.  It sounds like Dorsey told the Seminoles he would sign with FSU on Tuesday night, but pulled the switch to Michigan on Wednesday.  I know it happens all the time, but how can I not comment on it since Dorsey was involved?  Can’t say I’d want to be a coach on that day.  Talk about not getting a moment to even breathe.  Then again, it must be one hell of a rush.
Mark Richt claims having no defensive coordinator for six weeks had its toll on recruiting.  Very believable considering prospects had no idea who was going to lead the Georgia defense and due to the fact Richt had to spend time interviewing, offering, and then being turned down by various candidates.  In the end, Todd Grantham seems like a good hire for the Bulldogs, but take note of the Gators’ current situation.  When the NFL comes calling again for former pro assistants, they can be gone just like that.  Money continues to talk.  As if you didn’t know that.
A 13-year-old quarterback from Delaware has committed to USC.  Meaning David Sills will head to the Trogans (I couldn’t resist) as part of the 2015 recruiting class.  Anyone want to take bets Sills sticks with that commitment?  Or better yet, that Lane Kiffin will even still be there when 2015 comes around?  Sills has mentioned he’s always wanted to play for the Trojans.  Always, of course, isn’t a very long time when you’re 13.  I’m sure at one point he thought he would always think girls are icky.  This is “news” and we’ll talk about it, but wait until he’s at least in high school before you get too excited.
Here’s something USF fans might like to hear.  Scroll down to #9 on the list.  “I don’t want a quarterback that is going to be our leading ground gainer.  I’m not looking for a quarterback to be our tailback.”  That’s new Bulls’ head coach Skip Holtz on the QB situation at USF with a statement many fans are probably relieved to hear.  I’m all for a running quarterback that can keep the defense on its toes.  But without consistent performances from the actual running backs on the roster, it means nothing.  Much easier for a defense to worry about one guy and one guy only.

The Long Snapper (2/4/10)

National Signing Day has come and gone and Florida cleaned up.  The Gators went into the day with 25 committed prospects.  All 25 signed, which doesn’t seem all that impressive at first sight, but considering kids do make last minutes switches, it’s a commendable feat.  For good measure, Florida added Adrian Coxson, Chaz Green, and Darrin Kitchens.  Here’s another impressive look at the Gators’ 2010 recruiting class: throughout the process, only two commits didn’t end up signing with Florida.  Those two – Demar Dorsey and Victor Hampton – came to agreements with the staff to drop Florida from consideration.  In other words, they dropped the Gators as much as the Gators dropped them.  Whether Florida showed them the door or not is another story, but Dorsey and Hampton sure didn’t leave on their own.
At the moment, USC holds the top spot in the Rivals.com team rankings.  Of course a lot of that has to do with the nation’s #2 overall prospect – Seantrel Henderson – being committed to the Trojans.  On the back of Henderson and Markeith Ambles, USC leaped all the way to the top spot.  But not so fast.  Henderson hasn’t signed.  And he won’t until after USC goes before the NCAA infractions committee later this month.  Not a bad move on his part.  Why go to a school that could be on probation during your time there?  Henderson has “three-and-done” written all over him.  If the NCAA were to actually penalize USC (who knows if that will really happen), he wouldn’t have much of a shot at competing for a title.  It’ll be interesting to see what Henderson does if penalties are handed down.
Calvin Smith.  He of massive girth and superior talent had offers from most everywhere.  Among his official visits were Alabama, FSU, Illinois (Ron Zook can still sway a kid here and there it seems), and Tennessee.  But it was that fifth, and final, that reeled him in.  The four-star defensive tackle from Hialeah, FL is headed to New Mexico.  Yes, you read that right.  New Mexico.  The last time New Mexico signed a…oh who are we kidding…NEW MEXICO DOESN’T SIGN FOUR-STAR PROSPECTS!  Kudos to defensive line coach Rubin Carter for recruiting Smith.  And of course for not losing his faith despite being imprisoned for murders he didn’t commit.  What’s that?  Not the same guy?  Oh well.
Thanks for stopping by George Edwards.  Enjoy Buffalo.  The Gators’ new defensive coordinator is now the Gators’ former defensive coordinator.  Edwards has left Florida to be the DC of the Buffalo Bills.  I always feel for recruits when this happens.  Not that Edwards was around very long at all, but he definitely had time to have an impact on a few of the kids who are now signed (Gideon Ajagbe and Kitchens are listed as being heavily recruited by Edwards).  Not that Florida isn’t still a wonderful choice for them, but leaving the day after Signing Day…ouch.
And finally, yes, “Go Trogans!” is going to be used for years and years to come.

The Long Snapper (1/28/10)

The rumors were true in part.  Demar Dorsey is no longer a part of Florida’s 2010 recruiting class.  The Gators and Dorsey have parted ways.  It doesn’t appear as if the defensive back has committed to FSU or if he’ll end up at USC, but there are very slim odds he’ll be a Gator in the end.  The common belief is that the Florida coaching staff wanted Dorsey to give his commitment 100% to the Gators by not taking his final few visits.  He wouldn’t do so and both have agreed to move on.  Smart move by Florida to part ways with a player it looked like they were destined to lose much closer to National Signing Day anyway.  Dorsey is a big talent and would be a welcome addition to the class, but he has also been someone rumored to be headed somewhere else for quite some time.  As One Eyed Willy recently mentioned to me, Dorsey seemed very pro-Gator at the Under Armour All-American Game and then a week later when Matt Elam recommitted to Florida, not so much.  Hmm.
On that note, Tampa’s Michael McFarland will no longer be asked to grayshirt for the 2010 season.  With the spot in the class occupied by Dorsey, McFarland was expected to stay in Tampa for the fall and not join the Gators until the spring semester of 2011.  With that spot back open, McFarland was contacted by Florida coaches and asked to join the rest of the 2010 recruiting class and head up to Gainesville this summer.  Good news for a kid at a position where the Gators can use all the depth they can get their hands on.  I’m also guessing Auburn upping their pursuit of McFarland had at least something to do with coaches dropping the grayshirt request.
So how does this class of classes end for the Gators?  Your guess is as good as mine, but Seantrel Henderson, Jordan Hicks, and James Louis seem all but gone.  There’s still a chance with each, but if you believe all you’ve read recently, they all seem headed elsewhere.  The names you’ll hear the most are Adrian Coxson, Chaz Green, and Christian Jones.  Coxson and Green seem likely Gators.  Jones a little less such, but definitely someone who is thinking hard about it.  However Florida ends, this is truly a legendary class.
Former Jefferson (Tampa, FL) and FSU starting offensive lineman Daron Rose will not end up at USF after all.  Rose – a highly sought-after recruit years ago – had planned on spending his final year (if you can call it that, he will be suspended for the first three games of the season wherever he ends up) with the Bulls.  Now with the coaching change, who knows?  USF is out for Rose and, let’s be honest, so is any real hope to salvage a football career at this point.
I know, I know.  This is the third mention of FSU in today’s column.  Not something most around these parts want.  But this is for good reason.  Myron Rolle is back.  The Seminoles safety turned Rhodes Scholar.  If you want someone your kids can look up to, look no further.  Rolle is at the Senior Bowl this week where he’s trying to convince NFL scouts a year off didn’t affect his ability to play the game.  I’m sure he’ll be a welcome addition to whichever team he ends up with.

The Inferno: The Best Recruiting Class Ever?

by One Eyed Willy
A lot of people are saying this year’s Florida recruiting class is shaping up to be the best class ever “on paper.”  After hearing it enough times, I wanted to know if it was true.  So I went back and looked at the Rivals.com (the main site The Bull Gator and I typically use when it comes to recruiting) team rankings dating back to 2002 and although the Gators are close, they’re not quite the best as of right now.  In fact, this isn’t even the best Florida class yet.
Here are the teams that have had a point total of over 2,800 since 2002:
USC (2006) – 3,018
Florida (2007) – 2,959
Florida (2010) – 2,925
Florida (2006) – 2,901
USC (2004) – 2,908
Alabama (2008) – 2,836
The recent loss of Demar Dorsey (TBG will have more on that later) dropped the Gators a few points, but if Florida pulls in a few more guys (which it seems they will) between now and National Signing Day, they are guaranteed to blow past the 3,000-point mark, making the 2010 class truly the best ever.
I found it extremely interesting that the 2007 class with Carlos Dunlap, Torrey Davis, Cameron Newton, and James Wilson leading the charge is actually Florida’s highest rated class over the Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, and Carl Johnson class of 2006.  Of course, how they rank and how they play isn’t always comparable
Despite not having the highest ranked class ever just yet, one thing is certain, as of right now Florida is kicking the crap out of the other schools more than anyone has in the past.  Since 2002, the average distance between the #1 rated class and #2 rated class is 200 points.  The Gators are currently beating out #2 Texas by 501 points.  The biggest difference previously was in 2004 when USC beat LSU by 416.  Unfortunately for Florida, Texas probably has a better chance of landing a couple of bigger guys than the Gators do at this point, namely Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks.  But you never know who Florida is going to get either!!!  And think about this…the second best SEC East recruiting class is Georgia and they are nearly 1,100 points behind us.  It is great to be a Florida Gator.
Not bad at all considering the amount of drama and turmoil this team has gone through in the past two months.

The Long Snapper (1/26/10)

If a number of women’s groups have anything to say about it, the Tim Tebow Super Bowl commercial won’t happen at all.  The Women’s Media Center has led a charge to convince CBS to pull the ad before it gets a chance to air.  They believe an ad with that particular message has no place in the Super Bowl, stating: “An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year – an event designed to bring Americans together.”  I thought the Super Bowl was an event designed to determine the champion of the NFL and, oh yeah, sell beer, but what do I know?  This is one of those situations where it may be best to just sit back and see where it all ends.  Commercial or not, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl for what it is to me: the last chance to watch football for a very, very long time.
If the rumors are true, stud defensive back Demar Dorsey has dropped Florida and committed to FSU.  However, more often than not, the rumors aren’t true.  Dorsey did visit the Seminoles this past weekend and is said to have had a great time, but he still has an official visit scheduled to USC on the horizon.  For as long as anyone can remember, there has been chatter of Dorsey dropping the Gators and ending up at Tennessee.  With Lane Kiffin now with the Trojans, it’s hard to imagine Dorsey would not make that final trip before signing day.  Florida fans will be disappointed if he doesn’t end up in orange and blue, but probably shouldn’t be too surprised either.
Well ladies, what do you like more?  A man in a football uniform?  Or a man in a baseball uniform?  I hope your answer was football because that’s the choice former Florida two-sporter Riley Cooper has made.  Cooper will not report to the Texas Rangers because he has decided to give up baseball to focus on football.  He is expected to go anywhere between the second and fourth round of the NFL Draft and has a chance to up his stock with a good Senior Bowl week and showing at the NFL Combine.  Cooper has plenty of speed and scouts will love his blocking ability.  Expect Cooper to be able to last in the NFL.  He may not be a star, but he definitely has the ability to succeed.
Former USF defensive back Mike Jenkins has become the first Bull ever to make the NFL Pro Bowl.  In only his second year, Jenkins has become on the league’s better corners.  He plays physical and isn’t afraid of having to go up against bigger receivers.  Jenkins finished the 2009 season with 49 total tackles and five interceptions.  He recorded another pick in the Dallas Cowboys playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
Rob Beard – one of Oregon’s kickers – is expected to recover fully after being kicked (no, seriously) in the face until his lost consciousness during a fight.  Beard was attempting to help fellow Duck kicker Mike Bowlin when he was pushed to the ground and jumped.  As Every Day Should Be Saturday says, helping out your friends isn’t always a good idea.

Dunkley and Easley Pick Florida; Two Huge Gets for the Gators

For most of the recruiting cycle Pahokee (Pahokee, FL) wide receiver Chris Dunkley was thought to be a Florida lock, so his commitment during the Under Armour All-American Game was no real surprise.  Despite some rumors he may be leaning elsewhere, Dunkley did what was expected all along and became a Gator.  But for those who enjoy a little shock and awe, they got it on Saturday in the form on Dominique Easley.  The Staten Island, NY (Curtis) defensive end was expected to choose between Miami, Oregon, and Penn State, but when it came down to it, Easley shocked everyone following his recruitment and put on a Gator hat.
Starting with the offensive side of the ball, wipe of the drool.  The thought of Dunkley and Andre Debose in the Gator offense will do that to you (if possible, please refrain from nicknaming them the Double Ds).  Measuring in at 5’10”, 165 lbs., Dunkley is small in stature, but plays big on the field.  He’s quick, fast, speedy, acceleratory, agile, fluid, swift, fleet of foot, and oh yeah, not slow.  When he has the ball, good luck trying to actually tackle Dunkley.  He possesses a variety a moves sure to make defenses nauseous.  Although he may be worked into the passing game a little slower (as most true freshmen not named Percy Harvin are), Dunkley could get an early chance to return kicks, especially punts.  Everything about his game points to him being a dangerous punt returner.  Then again, if Friday night is any indication of the future of the Gator pass offense, Florida will need each and every receiver on the roster to contribute.
Across the line of scrimmage, Easley is one of the best surprises for Florida in quite some time.  Before the Under Armour game started, he was talked about as one of the most impressive prospects during the week of preparation.  During the game, he didn’t disappoint.  He ended the day with a sack, forced fumble, and fumble recovery.  Add those numbers to too many hurries to count and you could see why he was the topic of conversation.  At 6’3”, 258 lbs. Easley is already a good size for the college game and should be able to continue right where he left off in the UA game.  No one had any idea Easley would end up a Gator so feel free to boast about this one for the foreseeable future.  He will contribute early and often and could continue a strong line of recent Florida pass rushers.
Saturday definitely brought some momentum heading toward National Signing Day.  In addition to the commitments of Dunkley and Easley, other future Gators had big days.  Jonathan Dowling and Solomon Patton both scored and Dowling, Demar Dorsey, and Joshua Shaw combined for four interceptions.  It was a great display of future Florida talent.
 

Looking to the Future; Florida’s 2010 Recruiting Class Coming Together Early

One year ago yesterday, Gary Brown verbally committed to the orange and blue. In doing so, he became the second member of Florida’s 2009 recruiting class, joining Greg Reid. Over the recruiting cycle, Brown and Reid became two of the most sought after recruits in the nation. 11 months later, Reid would sign his letter of intent to play for FSU, while Brown stayed the course and became a Gator. While many may have been shocked at Reid’s defection, it might actually be more surprisingly that Brown honored his commitment. Not because of him necessarily, but because there aren’t a whole lot of recruits who commit that early in the process and stick with their first choice. In fact, Brown has the earliest commit date of any played signed under Urban Meyer.

But in 2010, all of that could change. As of this moment, the Gators have picked up six verbal commitments. And good ones at that. Here’s a look at how Florida’s 2010 recruiting class is coming together.

Trey Burton – QB – 6’3”, 205 lbs. – Venice – Venice, FL – Burton is a dual-threat quarterback who has dangerous speed if he gets to the outside. He needs to put on some bulk to effectively run Florida’s offense in the future, but he’s a good prospect who could climb the rankings during his senior year. He also had offers from FAU, West Virginia, and USF.

Demar Dorsey – CB – 6’1”, 175 lbs. – Boyd – Lauderdale Lakes, FL – Dorsey’s speed has coaches everywhere drooling. His coverage skills may be a little raw, but scouts believe he has the ability to play safety if he bulks up a little. Dorsey also had offers from FSU, Miami, UNC, and Wisconsin.

Jonathan Dowling – S – 6’1”, 180 lbs. – Southeast – Bradenton, FL – Dowling is already regarded as one of the nation’s best safeties – if not THE best. He is a ball hawk with a huge list of offers, including: Alabama, FSU, Georgia, Miami, and Notre Dame. Dowling has said he doesn’t plan on taking any visits other than to Florida.

Matt Elam – ATH – 6’0”, 205 lbs. – Dwyer – West Palm Beach, FL – Elam is the crown jewel of the class at this point. He can play on either side of the ball, but safety appears to be most likely. Elam is a big hitter who has exceptional field intelligence. Some of his offers include: Boston College, FSU, Georgia, LSU, and Miami.

Victor Hampton – CB – 5’10”, 170 lbs. – Independence – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Independence should sound familiar to you. Chris Leak went there. Hampton is a physical corner with good ball skills. He also had offers from Clemson, Georgia, UNC, NC State, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

Ian Silberman – OL – 6’5”, 260 lbs. – Fleming Island – Fleming Island, FL – Silberman gets the title of First Commit, giving his verbal to the Gators back in July. He’s an athletic lineman who is getting bigger, but still needs to put on some weight. Silberman also had offers from FSU, Michigan, and Tennessee.