Florida Football Recruiting: Why Gators Have Strongest Secondary Class of 2013

Nick de la TorreCorrespondent IFebruary 6, 2013

Marcell Harris with his "no fly zone" t-shirt. Via 247Sports
Marcell Harris with his "no fly zone" t-shirt. Via 247SportsChris Trotman/Getty Images

When Marcell Harris announced his commitment to the University of Florida, he did so by wearing a shirt with the Gator logo and the words "no fly zone" underneath. Some could write this off as an overconfident recruit, but maybe there is some truth to Harris' prediction. 

The Florida Gators signed four defensive backs in the class of 2013, and that group is headlined by consensus No. 1 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves is a physically gifted player with great speed, fast feet, fluid hips, great ball skills and great tackling technique. According to MaxPreps.com, Hargreaves finished his senior season with 110 tackles and five forced fumbles.

Not bad for a player who is listed at 5'11", 185 pounds.  

Florida also adds three safeties to the recruiting class in Harris, Keanu Neal and Nick Washington. Harris and Neal were both selected to the Under Armour All-American game while Washington was named an Army All-American. Harris is rated the No. 10 safety commit, Neal is rated the No. 13 safety commit, and Washington is rated the No. 17 safety commit according to 247Sports composite rankings. 

Not only is this one of the most talented groups in the country but it also fills a huge need for the Gators. Florida lost Josh Evans and Matt Elam this offseason, leaving starting spots open at both safety positions. Harris and Neal will compete for those starting spots while Washington will most likely play nickel in Florida's loaded secondary. 

But how does the Gators secondary stack up with the other top recruiting classes in the country?

To find this out, we used 247Sports composite rankings to give each team a numerical grade. The composite ranking draws on all the major recruiting networks to create the most objective average possible. 247Sports used a ranking system that grades player out to the ten-thousandths decimal. For instance, the No. 1 overall recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, received a perfect score of 1.0000. The No. 2 overall recruit according to 247Sports composite ranking is Jaylon Smith, who graded out at a .9986. 

The two defenses who could give the Gators a run for their money are Ohio State and yeah, you guessed it, Alabama. 

Let's start with the Crimson Tide. Nick Saban signed four defensive backs this recruiting cycle. The recruits, Anthony AverettJonathan CookMaurice Smith and Eddie Jackson averaged out to a .9031. Very respectable for the Tide and even more impressive when you consider how Saban stacked up his front seven. However, the Gators talented foursome averaged out at a .9568.  

Moving on to the next team, Urban Meyer's Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer brought in seven defensive backs in the 2013 recruiting class with Vonn Bell highlighting the group. Joining Bell are Eli Apple,Cameron BurrowsGareon ConleyChristopher WorleyJayme Thompson and Darron Lee. The Buckeye's secondary graded out at a .9292. Once again, the Gators edge out another school. 

Florida's recruiting class become even more valuable with the news that Loucheiz Purifoy will work almost exclusively at wide receiver this spring and could make a permanent move in the fall. This would open the door for Vernon Hargreaves to become the third true-freshman to start their first game at cornerback in Florida football history.

Florida has three commitments who will have a serious opportunity to start, and all four should receive significant playing time. Match that with grading out higher than the two schools who finished ahead of the in overall rankings, and it becomes clear that the Gators signed the best secondary in the class of 2013.