5 Gator Hats on the Table and Other Signing Day Rumors


January 4, 2013; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Highlight Robert Nkemdiche (1) during the second half at the Under Armour All-America high school Game at Tropicana Field. Team Highlight defeated the Team Nitro 16-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Signing day 2013 is drawing near and at this time of the year rumors fly, boards shrink, and things change seemingly by the minute. Today we take a look at 5 recruits that list the Gators as one of their final schools but most likely they represent merely a hat on the table. We list them in order of importance if they were to sign with the Gators.

5) Ira Denson

One name that has been bandied about for a year and had been rumored to be picking up steam recently is offensive lineman Ira Denson. For whatever reason, Gator fans have been enamored with this kid in spite of the fact that he has been committed to FSU forever and a day. He’s good friends with Gator commit Caleb Brantley who’s been hinting for a week now on Twitter about Brantley possibly visiting the Gators and possibly getting an offer.

It appears, once again, that is pure speculative rumor. He’s not visiting Gainesville this weekend and will not be in this class. Rumors are rampant at this time of the recruiting cycle and excitable fans are all too eager to pass them along. This one is pretty set in stone at this point. The Gators are done recruiting on the offensive line in this cycle.

4) Kennard Swanson

Swanson is a fullback prospect that had previously been committed to LSU but decommitted well over a month ago saying that he was going to commit to the Gators. The staff was very high on him to be the guy to come in and replace Hunter Joyer when he graduates. There’s only one problem he never had a commitable offer from the staff due to one thing. Academics. Apparently he was another borderline situation and was expected to be a signing day or post signing day decision.

That plan has now changed. Apparently his grades did not improve enough to give the coaches confidence he would qualify. His high school coach said on Wednesday that the plan is now for him to head to JUCO due to the grade concerns. This is a blow, not a huge blow, but a blow nonetheless. Swanson is the guy the staff had targeted for the fullback slot and apparently he is very talented at the position so the Gators will likely have to work harder to get one in next season.

3) Montravius Adams

Adams is a big time defensive tackle recruit and would certainly be a guy that could come in and compete for playing time right away at Sharrif Floyd’s old spot. He visited Gainesville a few weeks ago and came away impressed with the school and the program. When he left it appeared the Gators had given themselves a shot and might have pulled themselves near the top of his list.

Of course, as often seems to be the case, after continuing to visit other schools the momentum that the Gators might have gained has slowly eroded away. Adams would be a nice one to haul in, but it appears at this point that this is a two horse race between the home state Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers.

2) Alex Collins

With two top level running backs on board in 5 star Kelvin Taylor and 4 star Adam Lane, the staff has still been looking to possibly add one more in this class. The only two backs they are considering are Ryan Green, who recently strengthened his commitment to FSU, and Alex Collins who remains undecided. With Green definitely out, that leaves Collins as the only one left on the board.

Collins is about as quiet a recruit as there ever has been, refusing to do interviews and doing nothing to tip his hand. While the Gators did appear to have some traction after his visit to Gainesville four weeks ago, that has seemed to diminish by the day. He grew up a Cane fan but has been enamored with the offense that Bret Bielema ran at Wisconsin, particularly the way it features one main back who gets a ton of carries. Now that Bielema is at Arkansas, they have appeared to take the lead, slightly. Most likely this is a two team race with Arkansas going head to head with the hometown Canes. Wisconsin would likely be a wildcard here, but one thing’s for sure, the Gators are simply a hat on the table at this point.

 1) Robert Nkemdiche

With 26 commitments currently and room for up to 7 more assuming all 26 sign with the Gators, the one position that the Gators are highly likely to miss on is defensive end/Buck linebacker is it. The top guy on their board for most of the recruiting process was Elijah Daniel and he was expected to sign with the Gators. Unfortunately a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum, Daniel didn’t make the grade and is not qualified to sign with the Gators leaving staff to scramble at the end for a replacement.

They have looked at a number of prospects trying to sway guys like USC commit Jason Hatcher out of Kentucky. Hatcher never did take a rumored visit even after decommitting from USC. He eventually recommitted after a visit from the Trojan coaching staff and is now off the board.

One guy that the Gators have gotten some interest from in late in the process, mostly due to recruiting by Gator recruit Vernon Hargreaves, is the nation’s top recruit Robert Nkemdiche. Going into Under Armour All American game week, he made it public that he was down to two schools, Ole Miss and LSU. Ole Miss is where his older brother is a starting linebacker and LSU is a likely destination for his best friend and teammate David Kamara.

During practices for the Under Armour game, Nkemdiche appeared to bond with Hargreaves who helped to convince him to at the least take a visit to the Gators which he did a couple of weekends ago. His visit appeared to go well and he seemed genuinely impressed by the school, the program, and the staff.

However with his brother at Ole Miss, his mom making statements to the effect that she wants him at Ole Miss to make visiting from her native Nigeria where she is a legislator much easier, and simply the fact that he has been silently recruiting for the Rebels for some time now all adds up to him being Ole Miss bound come signing day.

Of course, there is always a chance he could “shock the world” as recruits always like to say and pick the Gators, and there have been leaked rumors from his camp that the Gators are a serious player for his services, however, in the end, the only shot the Gators have is an extremely long one and once again they likely only represent a hat on the table.

Update on Tashawn Bower, Ryan Timmons, and James Clark

Defensive end Tashawn Bower who was previously committed to Auburn but started looking around after the staff was turned over is seriously considering the Gators. He tripped to Gainesville last weekend but did not commit. He is headed to Auburn this weekend but the Gators will have three coaches visiting him on Friday before he leaves for the Plains. This is a big position of need and he’s likely the last one left on the Gators’ board with a realistic shot of being in this class. The staff will certainly press. Stay tuned.

Ryan Timmons a speedy wide receiver out of Kentucky who the Gators have only recently started recruiting as they seek one more speed guy in this wide receiver class was visited by the staff on Wednesday. He is also being recruited hard by Ohio State and it appears he may be the guy for the school that loses out on James Clark.

Clark of course has a final five schools but is likely going to choose between the Gators, Clemson, and Ohio State. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is rumored to have canceled his in-home visit with Clark on Thursday evening which would signal either they feel they won’t get him or he plain told them they were out. Either way that would make it a two horse race and the latest word is that OSU feels real good about their chances.

This leads us to the latest rumor on Timmons which is that OSU has stopped recruiting him altogether. This could very well signal that the Buckeyes may have gotten a silent commitment from Clark this weekend which would explain Dabo canceling the in-home. Either way the Gators have “last crack” at Clark as he is expected to take an unofficial this weekend to Gainesville. If they come out of the visit feeling they are second fiddle expect them to turn up the heat on Timmons.

Stay tuned to HailFloridaHail for the latest recruiting updates as we count down to signing day and check in here or follow on Twitter @HailFloridaHail for live signing day coverage.