Florida Gator Football Recruiting: Top Targets, Positional Needs and Predictions

John PattonContributor IJanuary 22, 2012

Florida Gator Football Recruiting: Top Targets, Positional Needs and Predictions

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    Following Saturday's pledge from Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Bryan Cox, Jr. (the son of the former NFL linebacker of the same name), Florida has 19 commitments in its 2012 recruiting class.

    The breakdown looks like this:

    Quarterbacks- 0

    Running backs- 1 (Matt Jones)

    Wide receivers- 1 (Latroy Pittman)

    Tight ends- 2 (Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson)

    Offensive tackle- 2 (Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries)

    Offensive guards- 0

    Centers- 0

    Defensive ends- 3 (Cox, Jonathan Bullard and Quinteze Williams)

    Defensive tackles- 3 (Damien Jacobs, Jafar Mann and Omari Phillips)

    Outside linebackers- 1 (Jeremi Powell)

    Inside/outside linebackers- 1 (Antonio Morrison)

    Safeties- 3 (Marcus Maye, Rhaheim Ledbetter and Willie Bailey)

    Cornerbacks- 1 (Brian Poole)

    Punters- 0

    Placekickers- 1 (Austin Hardin)

    That's a pretty good group. However, there are a few holes that need to be filled in the next week-and-a-half.

    Here is a look at some potential targets and what should be expected.

Top Targets/Positional Needs

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    Barring commitments from elite defensive prospects like OLB Josh Harvey-Clemons, CB Tracy Howard, DE Dante Fowler (currently a Florida State commitment), DT Leonard Williams and/or DE Darius Hamilton, look for Florida to focus primarily on offensive prospects.

    At the top of the list likely are a few wide receivers.

    The Gators have high hopes of landing both Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor, something that isn't completely beyond the realm of possibility, as each player has taken multiple trips to Gainesville.

    Diggs made his official visit to campus this weekend, while UF's recent offer to LB Schyler Miles, Agholor's Tampa Berkeley Prep teammate, might present a package deal for the Gators.

    Florida also may look to add offensive linemen.

    Californian Kyle Murphy visited the Gators the weekend of Nov. 4, 2011, but he is expected to stay on the west coast, deciding between Stanford, Southern California and possibly Oregon.

    One possibility remains in-state product Avery Young, a 6'6", 275-pounder who could play guard or tackle, while Jake Meador (Whiteland, Ind.) also is a possibility.

    In addition to Jones, UF had a commitment from Stone Mountain (Ga.) RB Mike Davis for about a year. However, he decommitted at the beginning of December and now says he will sign a national letter of intent with South Carolina.

    It might be too late for Florida to get heavily involved with another tailback, but the Class of 2013 is loaded at the position in-state, and the Gators already have a commitment from Winter Haven's 5'7", 217-pound Adam Lane.

    With just three scholarship quarterbacks (true-sophomores-to-be Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, as well as third-year soph Tyler Murphy) on the roster, none of whom have distinguished themselves, it is a bit surprising UF isn't looking to land a signal-caller.


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    The guess here is Florida gets most, but not all, of its guys.

    Most necessary will be the receivers, and I'm thinking the Gators land both Diggs and Agholor.

    UF is hoping to land a third offensive lineman in the class, so look for the Gators to make a strong push for Young.

    Will it be enough to overtake (or fend off) Georgia and Auburn?

    The belief here is yes.

    I think Florida also ends up signing Harvey-Clemons because his hometown of Valdosta, Ga. is a two-hour trip north on Interstate 75, meaning his family won't have far to go (the drive actually is a good bit shorter than the one to Athens, Ga.)

    I also believe Howard will be a Gator, giving UF perhaps the nation's best group of first- and second-year defensive backs.

    My thoughts are that Florida doesn't land Fowler (a longtime Gator fan who has been committed to FSU since Dec. 5, 2010 - yes, 2010), Hamilton (probably stays in his home state with Rutgers) and Williams (Auburn is the guess).

Where They'll Be Ranked

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    Look for the Gators to finish with a class ranked in the Top 5 nationally, and possibly Top 3.

    Currently, ESPN and rivals have Florida fourth, scout has the Gators fifth and 24/7sports has them sixth.

    The rankings are fluid, but if UF were to keep its current commitments and land those listed on the previous page, the Gators could end up in the discussion for the top overall class. Defensively, they might already have that.

    Turning an already committed prospect like Fowler could have a dual effect because it also could drop FSU (which is ranked anywhere from third to 11th by the four recruiting services).