Florida Football: Analyzing Gators Top 5 2015 Recruiting Targets
The Florida Gators 2015 recruiting class doesn’t feature any big names just yet, but there are five key guys who could eventually turn the table on the rest of college football.
It’s the Gators' top recruiting targets for this year’s class, and they’re some of the top players at their positions. Players who could step in right away and help Florida reach its goal of climbing back on top of the SEC.
The list includes three defensive players, an elite offensive lineman and possibly the top wide receiver in this class.
Here’s the breakdown of the Gators’ top five recruiting targets.
Jeffery Holland, LB
Jeffery Holland is an explosive player who plays fast and is always looking to drop the hammer on the ball-carrier. His combination of speed and power makes him probably the most disruptive linebacker in this year’s class. He has above-average instincts and seems to have a nose for the football and always looks to make the big play. Holland could play in either system, but he’d probably be a better fit in a 3-4 scheme.
Holland hasn’t shown much ability in pass coverage, as he’s mostly used to rush the passer and make plays on the ball. That raises questions if he could be an every-down player in Florida’s 4-3 scheme. He also needs to bulk up his 230-pound frame.
Another concern I have is Holland can get a little sloppy with his tackling due to playing the game at 100 miles per hour. He has to learn to wrap up and that every play isn’t going to result in a jaw-dropping hit.
Holland did admit a while back that Auburn is the front-runner, however, he recently told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required) that it's far from a done deal.
According to Holland, it still is anyone’s ballgame. Florida, which he said is recruiting him hardest, is next, but he said he had interest also in Alabama, Ohio State, Southern California, Tennessee and UCLA.
“There’s a lot of schools in the mix,” Holland said.
For the record, Holland did grow up a Florida fan.
George Campbell, WR
He has just about everything you look for in a wide receiver. George Campbell has the size at 6’4”, he’s one of the fastest players in this class and he knows what to do with the ball once it is in his hands. Simply comparing skill sets, he reminds me a lot of Dorial Green-Beckham due to his rare size and speed combination.
However, Campbell could also use his skills on the defensive side of the ball as well. Sure, Florida needs explosive receivers in the worst way, but Campbell’s versatility makes him that much more valuable.
Crazily enough, for a receiver ranked as high as he is, Campbell doesn’t have the greatest ball skills. He looks uncomfortable at times when trying to attack the ball and uses his body too much to bring the ball in. This raises questions about whether he’s better off at another position.
Campbell also needs to surpass the 200-pound mark and he could improve his route running. Still, ball skills are the top concern with this extremely talented kid.
Campbell has been very quiet about his recruiting process and hasn't even trimmed his lengthy list of schools down to a reasonable number. He did mention to Shea Dixon of 247Sports (subscription required) that he will be busy this summer.
I will start taking serious visits and checking out schools, and after summer, I want to at least cut it down to a lower amount of schools and focus on those schools. It’s just a matter of time to see what I want to do.
More than 90 percent of the predictions on Campbell's Crystal Ball have him going to Florida. He's expected to make his decision at the Under Armour All-American game.
Byron Cowart, DE
If you thought Holland was explosive, wait until you see Byron Cowart. He absolutely flies off the line of scrimmage and plays every play like it’s his last. The energy he brings to the field is contagious and he’s capable of playing either defensive end or defensive tackle.
He does a nice job of using his hands and he’s a sure tackler once he gets his hands on the ball-carrier. Overall, Cowart is one of my favorite players in this year’s class.
Cowart has to focus on being a little more consistent. He plays the game so fast and with so much energy that sometimes you worry if he's wearing down over the course of the game. He can also add a few moves to improve his pass rush ability.
Cowart once considered Oregon his leader, but he recently told Keith Niebuhr of 247Sports (subscription required) that he needs to take a step back from the recruiting process.
“A lot of people say Florida, Oregon, Alabama,” Cowart said. “But I’m doing a re-evaluation. I need to see why I’m interested in these schools."
Cowart is expected to make a decision during the Under Armour All-American game and more than 80 percent of the Crystal Ball predictions have him picking Florida.
Martez Ivey, OT
Martez Ivey has the size at 6’6”, 270 pounds to develop into one of those monster offensive linemen you typically see in the SEC. While he sounds like a mountain of a man who is impossible to move, it’s Ivey’s athleticism that makes him special. He moves extremely well for a big man and gets to the second level with ease.
He has a very quick first step and has the skill set to play either tackle or guard at the college level. He’s just a physically imposing player with a high ceiling.
The only real concern with Ivey is his ability to pass protect at a high level. He plays in a run-oriented offense in high school and there’s simply not a lot of film out there protecting the quarterback. Yes, Ivey has the size, footwork and length to make one believe he’ll be fine when the offense throws the ball, but it’d be nice to see in action considering we’ve seen everything else.
Florida has long been considered the favorite to land Ivey, but he isn't expected to make a decision until the U.S. Army All-American game. He still likes the idea of becoming a Gator, according to Luke Stampini of 247Sports (subscription required).
Florida, Ivey answered when asked if any schools are standing out. Growing up a Gator fan, that’s obviously a big influence on me. Then, just playing in the SEC, that’s a big part of it too. You want to go against the best, because at the end of the day it’s a business and most the guys out of the SEC are going to the NFL. So why not prepare myself now?
Ivey is probably the Gators' most important recruit.
CeCe Jefferson, DE
CeCe Jefferson can do just about anything you want along the defensive front. His first step quickness is probably the fastest in this year’s class, and it’s unfair when you combine it with his power and upper-body strength. He’s fast enough to blow by tackles and strong enough to break free when engaged with a bigger offensive lineman.
His change of direction and pass-rushing skills are well developed and he’d be a perfect fit in the Gators' hybrid role if he commits. Jefferson is one of the more polished players in this class.
Jefferson could add on a few pounds to make him a stronger force against the run. But other than that, I don't see many weaknesses. Jefferson is one of those players who could start from day one and be a highly effective player.
Jefferson has already made up his mind, but he won't make his decision until next February, according to Thomas Goldkamp of 247Sports (subscription required).
Until national signing day gets here, nobody will know except my mom and my ex-girlfriend, he said. They're the only people I told. So until national signing day, it won't leave that little triangle.
It feels like every time I go to that place, I build a good bond with the coaches, he said. Every time I go, there's something new for CeCe, to show CeCe. I just feel at home every time I go to that place.
It just fits right for me. I fit into the defensive style, the coaches are great coaches. It just feels at home, and that's probably one of the most important things for me. And the academic program is great.
Judging by the way Jefferson spoke about the Gators in the video above, I think we have a good idea of which school it's going to be.