The last weekend of recruiting visits for the Gators has passed and now it’s wait and see time til signing day on Wednesday.
There’s a lot of speculation on the remaining recruits on the Gators board, which by the way is down to five recruits.
Let’s start with the guys that have dropped off the board.
Quinton Powell was a long time linebacker commit that decommitted but was reconsidering the Gators late. For whatever reason his scholarship offer was removed over the weekend. Not sure if they gave him an ultimatum (unlikely) or if they got word that they were just a hat on the table and that Powell was a USC silent commit so they pulled it. Either way he was told the Gator class is full and is no longer being recruited by the staff moving forward. Considering he was down to UF and USC let’s hope for his sake that the Trojans don’t fill up as well as they are severely limited on scholarships due to NCAA sanctions.
Ryan Timmons is a wide receiver out of Kentucky that the Gators were considering along with James Clark. Both Clark and Timmons were in town for the weekend but it appears that Timmons will not be a Gator come signing day. Haven’t gotten a good read on this one just yet. It’s not clear if the Gators dropped him or if he dropped them but I get the feeling that it may be related to Clark and may bode well for the Gators on that front. The expectation is that he will sign with Kentucky.
Alex Collins, a running back out of South Florida, that had considered the Gators announced Monday evening that he intends to sign with Arkansas. He was not expected to choose the Gators and most had it being a battle between the hometown Hurricanes who he had previously committed to and Arkansas where former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema has landed. It has been obvious for a while that Collins was enamored with Bielema’s offense and so the choice was not a surprise in any way.
Tanner McEvoy is a JUCO qb who the Gators jumped on very late in the process after losing backup Jacoby Brissett to transfer. He visited this weekend but ultimately decided his best opportunity is at Wisconsin where he was already expected to commit. He did actually commit to them on Monday so he will not be in this class.
Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s consensus number one player regardless of position, had taken a visit a couple of weekends ago to Florida at the behest of Vernon Hargreaves, a Gator commit who he had befriended during the Under Armour All American game week practices. The visit, of course, got Gator fans hopes up that maybe we could steal one out of nowhere. I can assure you that this is not going to happen. Not quite sure what’s going on in Oxford, Mississippi, but Hugh Freeze has got it going on and is poised to bring in the best class in their history with a shot at an overall number one rating in a couple of recruiting services rankings once the number one overall recruit faxes in his LOI on Wednesday.
So now let’s take a look at the five left on the Gators board and the likelihood they become Gators on Wednesday with percentages. Of course, these percentages are highly subjective and just my opinion and are certainly subject to change within the next 24 hours but this is the latest and at this point last word.
5) Tashawn Bower (Expected announcement time 9:30 am)
Defensive end Tashawn Bower is the lone player left on the Gators board at the position, a position of need at that. Bower spent the last weekend before signing day at Auburn on an unofficial visit getting acquainted with the new coaching staff. He had previously been committed to the old staff but opened up his recruitment when the previous staff was let go. By all accounts the visit went well and he got good vibes all around. It’s always hard to judge if a recruit is really feeling it or if he’s just saying the politically correct thing.
I do think the Gator staff feels very good about Bower, but personally I always give a lot of credence to where a recruit visits last especially when it’s on their own dime. When that visit is to a school he had previously been committed to for a long period of time, then that is paramount to me. However, nothing in what he had to say about the Auburn visit jumps out and says, “that’s it, that’s the school for me.”
He has visited four schools LSU, FSU, UF, and Auburn. LSU already has four defensive ends conmmitted and FSU only has one. Both of those teams are losing some guys at the position and have a serious need. As such they might could offer a chance at immediate playing time. Auburn is in the same position with Carl Lawson being the only other end committed and are offering the same opportunity at early playing time.
The problem in my mind is that Bower is unlikely to come in and start right away at any of the above schools. He likely will need a redshirt year to gain some weight and strength before being effective in the SEC. So the question becomes what is important to him? Early playing time which he likely won’t get no matter where he goes? Playing for championships, something he’d most likely be able to do at only LSU and Florida? That’s the million dollar question here.
My personal feeling is that it is realistically a Auburn-Florida battle but putting percentages on each of his top four I’d have to go with
4) Jalen Ramsey
Cornerback Jalen Ramsey is an enigma. In every class there is one or two guys that just stand out throughout the recruiting process that fans kind of cling to and their recruitment kind of takes on a life of it’s own. For the Gators in this recruiting cycle, Ramsey is that guy. He’s been committed to USC since last summer. Shortly after he committed to the Trojans, the Gators began seriously recruiting him. Still not sure if the staff found him as a result of Max Staver’s recruitment or they found Staver as a result of recruiting him. Regardless, the two have been oddly joined at the hip in this recruiting cycle and Gator fans have kind of hung their hat on him.
For whatever reason some fans have an idea that a coach’s recruiting prowess is determined by how he “closes” and by that they mean how well he is able to get a big time guy or two late, particularly on signing day. Last year the Gators were in on 8 bigtime guys on signing day and lost out on all of them. For that reason some fans considered Muschamp to be a poor closer. The one guy that could change that perception of Muschamp this season is Ramsey. Regardless of what they do with the other guys, this is the one guy that fans seem to focus on as being necessary to close strong.
Ramsey visited the Gators back in September and appeared to enjoy the trip. However, he stayed committed to USC throughout and still has yet to decommit. He is a high school teammate of Gator quarterback recruit Max Staver and while some have played up that relationship, Ramsey’s father has actually downplayed it. A couple of weeks ago when the staff was having an in-home visit with Ramsey, Staver actually slipped up and let out a tweet which seemed to indicate that Ramsey may be committing to the Gators. He immediately deleted it and backtracked away from that. The next day in response to numerous recruiting analysts requests for a reaction to the tweet, Ramsey’s father downplayed Staver’s relationship saying that he and Jalen were teammates only and not friends and that the only one that could speak for Jalen would be his family.
Since that point Jalen has taken an official visit to rival FSU and once again seemed somewhat impressed but still muted in his response. What we do know is that the only three schools he’s considering going forward are USC, FSU, and UF. That staff had their final in-home the other evening and since that point the family has said they will remain quiet until signing day. This one is very tough to get a read on both because they’ve decided to remain quiet but also because they’ve done very little to tip their hand. I do know all three staffs feel good about their chances with this one, and, of course, we all know only one can come away smiling.
USC is the original choice and you always have to give credence to a team that was a) his first choice and b) he’s been committed to for a long time. The negatives here are a) distance, b) Position coach was fired, and c) after last season’s disappointing record the staff may be on the hot seat. The Seminoles likely offer early playing time, a fallback position between UF and USC, and distance as positives. The negatives here are less of a relationship built as the Noles came in very late, and lots of turnover on the Nole staff.
The Gators probably have the least to offer in terms of early playing time with their top three corners returning and top rated corner Vernon Hargreaves III coming in this cycle as well. The positives are a better, more stable program than the other two, relationships built not only with Staver and the UF coaching staff but also with other Gator recruits. He spent a lot of time in San Antonio at the Army All American week practices bonding with future Gators like Nick Washington. Washington has been instrumental at leading the Gator recruiting player to player and the staff is really leaning on his and other defensive backs pushing this “Gator No-Fly Zone” as they have named it.
Latest update 8:57 am 2/5. There are widespread reports that the Ramsey family has notified the FSU staff that they will sign with FSU tomorrow. Tough one. Good job by Jeremy Pruitt getting on some good ones late and reeling them in.
3) Jarran Reed
Junior college defensive tackle Reed appeared to be fading from the Gator’s grasp over the last few weeks as the Crimson Tide began to turn up the heat on his recruitment, Ole Miss kept bringing in top rated talent pushing their class in to the top ten, and with Reed continuing to take visits after his Gainesville official, the thought was that he would likely stick with Ole Miss his original commitment or possibly slip into the Tide’s class.
However, he suddenly and shockingly announced on Sunday that he was no longer committed to Ole Miss leading to speculation that with several top defensive lineman committed and likely overall number one Robert Nkemdiche very likely to sign with Ole Miss it appears they have run out of room and have pushed Reed out of their class.
So now he is down to two, Florida and Alabama. Alabama is already way over their signing limit three days before signing day so it’s unclear whether or not they would actually take him if he signed with them. Florida, of course, wants him pretty badly with their top two defensive tackles gone after last season. The staff would really like a guy who can come in and compete right away. He’s close friends with both Darius Cummings a JUCO teammate and Damien Jacobs who played at the same JUCO in 2011. Two big strong JUCO defensive tackles coming in would be the staff’s best case scenario at this point, allowing the high school tackles to come in and gain size and strength and get a year of learning under their belt.
This one still could very well go the way of the Tide as they seem to oversign by a huge margin every season but somehow get away with it. Personally, I think this one will go the way of the Gators.
2) James Clark (Expected announcement time 9:30 am)
It appears the Gators made a good impression on WR James Clark this weekend. Apparently, the high ranking of the business school at Florida surprised Clark who has expressed as much interest in academics as he has football when looking at his prospective schools. The word from people who saw him including qb recruit Max Staver was that Clark appeared to be having a great time on his visit which was an unofficial one due to the fact he used all his officials previously to other schools. He even made a statement to one recruiting analyst that he could see himself at Florida. Does that mean he’s coming? Absolutely not. It could be simply recruit-speak.
I do, however, like where the Gators are right now. Having the last visit is huge here. Ohio State had some momentum with early playing time, the spread, Urban Meyer, the “Percy Position” etc… Clemson had some momentum coming off his visit there. ACC big dogs, the next “Sammy Watkins” etc… The Gators have distance in their favor as it’s a short drive for the family to come see him play and I get the feeling somewhat that he likes the Gators as well.
I think Clemson was the flavor of the moment. Then OSU was the flavor of the moment. Now reality sets in and that is simply that the other two schools are a LONG way from home. I’m thinking he’s realizing he can get everything he wants at UF: great academics, early playing time, and long-term opportunity for championship level football and possibly an NFL career. I think that’s what Meyer sold him on, but this weekend the staff likely made it clear he can get it at UF and be close to home.
The Field 10%
1) Jaynard Bostwick (Expected announcement time 8 am)
Bostwick, a defensive tackle out of south Florida, finally took his long awaited official visit to Florida this weekend. Apparently, he and his family came away totally impressed. The family raved about the visit this weekend and said Jaynard felt completely at home in Gainesville, both with the town and with the school. He has already made it clear that he is closer to the Florida staff than that of the other two schools Miami and Alabama.
With Alabama being overfilled, I don’t think they are a threat at this point. Miami was Jaynard’s childhood favorite so that is always a consideration but with that program facing an uphill battle with sanctions looming and other issues in recruiting this season and just a poor product on the field, I think they are really on the outside looking in here.
Everything this past weekend came up roses for the Gators, with them having the last visit and blowing him and his family away. I strongly think he was already leaning to Florida and with all he saw this weekend he is the most likely, at this point, to sign out of the uncommitted recruits. Of course, you never know in recruiting but I feel strongest about this one right now. And yes I do think they will take both Reed and Bostwick and I feel like that is the staff’s plan at this point. Two DT’s, a WR, a DE, and a CB.
Regardless of how many choose to be Gators on Wednesday, this class is fantastic just as it is if they do not sign another recruit. ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said on Monday that Will Muschamp will sleep better on Tuesday night than any other coach in America because of the class he has already assembled. Personally, I think he feels strongly on three of the five and is happy with where they are at with this class. The program is on good footing and Muschamp is showing with this, his first full class, that he can recruit with the best, and even more importantly understands the nuances of getting a strong class numbers-wise positionally speaking as well as getting some star power.
Check back on Signing day for updates, bios, and the latest info. Follow @HailFloridaHail on Twitter for live updates as recruits fax in their LOI’s. as well as a recap Wednesday evening.