Florida Gators National Signing Day 2014: Position-by-Position Analysis
The ink is dry, and there is officially a new batch of players who will be welcomed with open arms to the Florida Gators community. As usual, the 2014 recruiting class features a lot of talent and guys who will make immediate impacts.
But recruiting isn't just about getting the best players. It has a lot more to do with addressing areas to better your team. Florida needs a quarterback, elite skill offensive players and big boys on the defensive line. Loading up in other areas really wasn't the goal this year and wouldn't have made much sense.
So how did Florida make out on national signing day?
Florida won't have to worry about a quarterback for quite some time with the commitment from Will Grier. He's one of the top quarterbacks in the 2014 class and will be leading the team sooner than later. The goal will likely be to redshirt him and have Jeff Driskel progress next season, but if the struggles continue, don't be surprised if Grier picks up a start or two as a true freshman.
Grier is a very smart quarterback who throws the ball with great accuracy and a quick release. He's also quite mobile for somebody who stands in at 6'3", and he plays the game with great poise.
The Gators needed an elite quarterback prospect in the worst way, and they got their man. The fanbase can breathe a little easier knowing that a change at the position is soon to come.
Deiondre Porter and Treon Harris also committed as dual-threat quarterbacks, but due to their athleticism and with Grier on the depth chart, they'll likely see playing time at a different position. I hear the skill positions need work.
Signees: 3-Star Brandon Powell
You would have liked to see Florida put a little more effort into getting an elite running back, but I guess that can wait another year with Kelvin Taylor doing most of the heavy lifting as a sophomore. The Gators did, however, get Brandon Powell from Deerfield Beach.
Powell is a versatile player. He also played cornerback in high school, but he'll likely suit up in the backfield. He isn't the biggest back at 5'9", but he's a blur to defenders who are trying to tackle him. He brings that home run speed and playmaking ability to an offense that didn't have any of that a season ago.
With him enrolling early, there's a good chance he'll be given opportunities to make plays as a true freshman. It couldn't hurt, considering Florida needs all of the help it can get on the offensive side of the ball.
Wide receiver was also a position of need, and Florida did a decent job of addressing it. There isn't a single commitment at the position who is going to blow you away, but they all bring a little something to the table and will help the offense get to where it is trying to go.
J.C. Jackson is a speedster who can make plays deep and stretch the defense. However, he may be open to a position change at cornerback. Ryan Sousa isn't the most athletic receiver, but he catches everything thrown his way and simply knows how to get open. C.J. Worton is also sure-handed and has a whole highlight reel (video above) of him making nothing but tough catches in traffic.
Florida needs guys at this position to step up, and adding talented kids should help that happen once the season begins.
I wrote last week about how new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper uses the tight end a lot in his offense. Considering the position only provided two receptions last season, it's safe to say the Gators needed to add some more competition to the mix.
Moral Stephens is the best of the bunch, as he has a thick build at 6'4" but moves like a wide receiver. He's likely to line up all over the field and is going to be a nightmare for defensive backs to try and cover. DeAndre Goolsby is a rangy athlete who tracks the ball well and has the ability to get vertical. And C'yontai Lewis, who picked Florida over Alabama, needs to bulk up his frame but has great hands and gets down the field quickly with his long strides.
Florida has a ton of potential at the tight end position, giving Roper enough pieces to help turn around his offense in a hurry.
Like much of Florida's offense, the offensive line needed work as well. The coaching staff attacked this area hard during the recruiting class and landed some nice pieces.
David Sharpe is not only the best offensive lineman in Florida's class, but he's one of the prize gets for Florida this year. At 6'6" and 318 pounds and with his athleticism, I see him being one of the top offensive linemen in the country in due time. Trust me, the sky is the limit for this kid.
Florida didn't stop there with the additions of 6'7" Andrew Mike and the versatile Travaris Dorsey. The Gators also have three offensive linemen already enrolled with Taven Bryan, Kavaris Harkless and Drew Sarvary. There are some bruisers in that bunch who will gladly bring physical football back to Gainesville.
The offensive line improved drastically with this group of guys.
Signees: 3-Star Justus Reed
Florida didn't do much to pad the outside of the defensive line besides the addition of Justus Reed. Reed still needs to add strength to his upper body, but he's someone who gets off the ball well and can chase down ball-carriers. He's the complete package at the position, considering he can help out in run support as well as rushing the passer.
I'm sure Florida would have liked to have added another pass-rusher, but the coaching staff made up for it in so many other ways. Besides, when you have guys such as Jonathan Bullard, Bryan Cox Jr. and Dante Fowler Jr. lining up on the outside this season, it's easy to wait an extra season before attacking the position.
The Gators will be just fine with what they have at defensive end.
This class will likely be known for its additions to the defensive tackle position. When I mentioned Florida made up for its lack of defensive ends in other areas, I mainly was referring to the big guys in the middle of the defensive line.
Gerald Willis may be the best overall player in Florida's class. He's someone who will see the field a lot as a true freshman and has the ability to put fear in a lot of SEC quarterbacks. He is explosive, has a great combination of speed and power, and is, well, downright scary if you're somebody who has to block him.
Florida also added Thomas Holley, who simply doesn't budge with his wide frame and will become an instant run-stopper. And Khairi Clark is a JUCO transfer who adds experience to the defense and a motor that never seems to stop running.
The Gators hit a home run at defensive tackle this season.
Tabor is an elite player who could become a starter at some point as a true freshman. He's a physical defensive back who loves to jam guys at the line of scrimmage. He plays the ball well and is also great at helping out in run support. As he's easily one of the top recruits in this class, you're likely going to hear Tabor's name for years to come.
Dawson is also a physical player and a big hitter, but he's still a little raw at the position, considering he spent a lot of time playing safety and wide receiver in high school. Still, his instincts are fantastic, and he'll add playmaking ability to Florida's defensive backfield.
Florida's secondary just got even better with the addition of these two guys.
The only key position Florida did not address in this recruiting class is linebacker. It is a little weird not seeing a linebacker in this class, but Florida added four outside linebackers just last season. It also added three linebackers in 2012.
Those additions don't even include Ronald Powell and Michael Taylor, two seniors who will once again be key contributors defensively.
I'm always a fan of adding at least one player to each position even if you don't really need it. But you can certainly understand why the Gators felt the need to not recruit the linebacker position as hard as they've done in the past.
Next season, you'll likely see a heavy dose of linebackers.
Signees: 3-Star Quincy Wilson
Unlike quarterback, defensive tackle and offensive lineman, safety was another position Florida didn't really need to make many changes to. The Gators have their safeties for next year in Jabari Gorman and Cody Riggs, while they also added guys such as Nick Washington, Keanu Neal and Marcell Harris last season.
Still, the addition of Quincy Wilson isn't too shabby. He's a versatile player who could play either cornerback or safety and is listed as a safety on most recruiting sites. He has a lengthy frame at 6'1" and could probably use a year to continue growing into his body. Like many of Florida's defensive backs, he's a physical player who excels in press coverage. He's certainly one of the more underrated players in this class.
It's always nice when you can snag a talented player at a position you don't really need. Hey, I'm sure nobody on Florida's coaching staff is complaining.
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