The last recruiting weekend before the dead period has begun and the Gators have welcomed five official visitors.
The cream of the crop of this weekend visitor’s, of course, is five star running back Alex Collins from Plantation, Florida. Collins, who only recently started playing football, has shot up the recruiting rankings in his senior season. Apparently, according to one recruiting analyst the Gators didn’t even know who he was when he visited last December at his sister’s graduation from Florida. They certainly know who he is now.
After his primary recruiter, Aubrey Hill, the Gators former wide receiver coach, resigned, Collins was a forgotten man. Since the end of the season, however, the Gators have been showing increased interest in him. Previously, Collins was committed to the hometown Hurricanes but with looming sanctions and a feeling that he committed too soon, Collins decommitted from Miami and reopened his recruitment. At the time it was thought FSU with Eddie Gran recruiting him and Wisconsin under Bret Bielema stood the best chance of getting his commitment. Then the silly season began. Bielema up and left Wisconsin for Arkansas and Eddie Gran left Florida State. All this while the Gators staff, oddly having the most stability of any of the state’s schools at the moment, started ratcheting up their pursuit of Collins.
Now Collins is left to figure out which direction to head. In a story by recruiting analyst Jamie Newburg published on scout.com Collins’ high school coach was quoted,
“There’s no doubt that they got in the game late with Alex,” said Doug Gatewood, South Plantation’s coach. “I don’t even think they have made much contact with him over the year. Aubrey Hill was the recruiter for him for the Gators. I think they had one contact in Gainesville and that was kind of in passing at his sister’s graduation last December.”
“But there’s a lot to like if you are Alex. It’s the SEC and you have to love the way they run the ball, especially if you are a big back like Alex. He just wants to check out Florida and see if they are the right fit.”
Collins still has interest in both Wisconsin and Florida State and may be taking a look at Arkansas as well with Bielema there now. This weekend, however, it’s the Gators staff’s chance to show Collins not only how he fits into their scheme but how they plan to work in three new big time backs in this recruiting class. A tough sell, perhaps, but after last season’s display of a powerful running game, maybe it’s not as tough as we might have thought previously.
The only other prospect not committed to the Gators is linebacker Jarrad Davis, from Camden County high school, in Kingsland, Georgia. Davis is considered a three star prospect and is currently committed to the Auburn Tigers. With the turnover in staff, Davis is looking around at some other schools. The Gators seem intent on bringing in another linebacker, but it’s not clear if they are planning on one of their current commits bailing or if they just simply want another linebacker. Davis, at 6-2 and 225, looks the part of the linebacker that Muschamp covets in the middle. He plays big, has great lateral movement, good downhill speed, great instincts and field awareness , and is a sure tackler. Realistically, I feel like the staff is a little higher on Trey Johnson at the moment but if they are unable to ensure a commitment from Johnson then I think we might see them put the full court press on Davis. Check out his video in the link above, he certainly looks better than a three star linebacker.
The other three visitors are current Gator commitments in wide receiver Marqui Hawkins, running back Adam Lane, and the newest recruit, wideout Demarcus Robinson. Hawkins, a three star receiver from Carver high school in Columbus, Georgia, has been committed to the Gators for quite some time. Recently, however, he started making some noise about wanting to visit other schools, see some things, enjoy the recruiting process. With the addition of another big time stud receiver in Robinson, the Gators class filling up quickly, and the staff sitting down with him the other night, Hawkins decided he did not want to jeopardize his place in this class for the Gators and shut his recruiting down as well as any talk of visiting other schools.
Adam Lane was the Gators first recruit in this class, maintaining his loyalty to the staff that was loyal to him, sticking by their verbal offer to play at Florida last season after he suffered a season ending injury his junior year and missed the entire season. He is a short back, at 5-7,in the Maurice Jones-Drew mold but is a solid, muscular 215 pounds. He has big, strong legs and is a workout warrior. He has great balance, vision, cut-back ability, and speed. With a low center of gravity and strong lower body he is extremely hard to bring down. He should excel in Muschamp’s downhill running attack.
Finally, Demarcus Robinson, who had been committed to Clemson for a long time before flipping to the Gators last week, is in this weekend for his official visit. While he said when he committed to the Gators that Florida was his first and last choice and that he was done with recruiting it appears the Clemson staff is not letting him go quietly into that good night. They are still pushing hard to get him to honor his original commitment to Clemson calling him the “next Sammy Watkins”. It appears his high school coach is very involved in his recruitment and some feel he may be pushing him towards Clemson. Watkins statements have repeatedly been that Florida is the place for him and he wants to play in the SEC, but the coach apparently has made statements to the effect that they will sit down Sunday night after his Florida visit and “weigh the pro’s and con’s of both schools”. So it appears this one isn’t quite over yet, of course, they never are until they fax in their letter of intent on signing day.
On a team note, cornerback Willie Bailey of Hallandale, Florida, a member of last year’s recruiting class has decided to transfer out. He was the odd man out in the secondary this past season and with talented and seasoned guys returning, and five star Vernon Hargreaves coming in this year he was likely to see little if any playing time going forward.