Florida Football Recruiting: 10 Best Gator Recruits from BCS Era

Edwin WeathersbyAnalyst IJuly 7, 2014

Florida Football Recruiting: 10 Best Gator Recruits from BCS Era

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    Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

    Florida has signed some unbelievable talent since the start of the BCS era in 1999.

    This was one of toughest lists to formulate in a while, as quarterback Brock Berlin, safety Reggie Nelson, defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, offensive lineman Max Starks, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, quarterback Jeff Driskel, linebacker Brandon Spikes, offensive tackle D.J. Humphries and defensive ends Jarvis Moss and Ronald Powell are just several names who didn't make the cut.

    That's because the Gators signed recruits such as a 5-star dual-threat quarterback and receiver in 2006, plus a stud cornerback in 1999. Also, a talented defensive end came to Gainesville in 2004.

    All recruiting class ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Recruiting Rankings.
    All recruiting ratings and rankings are from 247Sports' Composite Rankings.
    Player evaluations are based on review of tape at Scout.comRivals and 247Sports.
    All stats are from Sports-Reference.com, unless otherwise noted.

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Class: 2013

    An elite recruit Florida signed at the end of the BCS era is Vernon Hargreaves III, a 5-star cornerback in the 2013 class.

    Hargreaves could very well go down as the most complete cornerback prospect in modern recruiting history. At 5'11" and 185 pounds, his combination of athleticism, natural cover skills and terrific instincts was amazing as a high school player.

    The Florida native finished his true freshman season with 11 passes defended and was first-team All-SEC, according to Bonnie Mott of SportsTalkFlorida.com.

Carlos Dunlap, DL

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    Ed Reinke/Associated Press

    Class: 2007

    A big-time prospect Florida landed in the 2007 class was Carlos Dunlap. From South Carolina, Dunlap was a 5-star defensive end who stood 6'6" and weighed 289 pounds.

    When he went full tilt, the Palmetto State native was just about impossible to block. He finished his career at Florida with 19.5 sacks before becoming a second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2010 NFL draft.

Joe Haden, CB

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Class: 2007

    Perhaps the only reason Joe Haden was a 4-star and not a 5-star recruit in 2007 was because he really didn't have a true position. The Maryland native was an athletic prospect who was awfully raw.

    However, he eventually honed his skills as a cornerback in Gainesville and became a consensus All-American in 2009. Haden was a cornerstone player who helped Florida win a BCS title in 2008.

    He made 218 tackles and picked off eight passes before becoming a first-round pick by the Cleveland Browns in the 2010 NFL draft.

Percy Harvin, WR/ATH

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Class: 2006

    Some say Percy Harvin was the best football player in the entire 2006 recruiting class. From Virginia, the 5-star prospect wowed observers with incredible speed and athleticism with the ball in his hands.

    Harvin was a 5'11", 185-pounder who could make big plays as a receiver, running back, quarterback and returner. He fit in well in former head coach Urban Meyer's spread-option offense, totaling 133 receptions for 1,929 yards and 32 touchdowns. 

    As a runner, Harvin had 1,852 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also did damage as a punt and kickoff returner. Harvin won two SEC and national titles at Florida before being selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Minnesota Vikings.

    He is currently a star for the Seattle Seahawks.

    Although he was a few years over his prediction, Harvin said the following in December of 2005 when he committed to Florida, according to Mike Farrell of Rivals.com (subscription required):

    "For the next five years of my life, I am going to the University of Florida."

Tim Tebow, QB

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Class: 2006

    Perhaps the greatest player in Florida history, Tim Tebow joined the program in 2006. His legend was just starting at the time, but he was already well-known in football circles.

    Tebow's career at UF was nothing short of productive and sensational. He won the Heisman in 2007, which was the same year he was a consensus All-American. The former 5-star recruit finished his career with the Gators with 9,285 yards passing and 2,947 yards rushing, accounting for 145 touchdowns from scrimmage.

    Florida won a national title with Tebow as the starter, and he will go down as one of the greatest college football players ever. The Denver Broncos made him a first-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Tebow is currently out of football. 

Derrick Harvey, DE

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Class: 2004

    The headliner of Florida's 2004 class was 5-star defensive end Derrick Harvey. The Gators have signed some excellent edge-defender recruits over the years, and Harvey stacks up with any of them.

    The Maryland native came to Gainesville at 6'5" and 235 pounds and left after totaling 20.5 sacks in three seasons. Before being selected No. 8 overall in the 2008 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Harvey won a national title with the Gators in 2006. 

Chris Leak, QB

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Class: 2003

    Currently the receivers coach at Florida, Chris Leak arrived in Gainesville first in 2003 as a heralded and hyped quarterback prospect. In fact, it wasn't a stretch to say he was the best quarterback recruit in the nation during that year.

    From North Carolina, Leak had excellent accuracy, touch and vision. He wound up producing at a high volume for the Gators, finishing his career with more than 11,000 passing yards and 88 touchdowns. 

    Leak, who quarterbacked Florida to a national championship in 2006, easily warrants being on this list.

Chad Jackson, WR

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Class: 2003

    Florida signed 5-star receiver Andre Caldwell in 2003, and he had a solid career in Gainesville. However, 5-star receiver Chad Jackson was actually the better recruit at the time.

    Jackson, who was 6'1" and 200 pounds, was the total package as a prospect. His combination of size, strength, speed and burst allowed him to make impressive plays. 

    He caught 120 passes for Florida, totaling 1,586 yards and 16 touchdowns. He was selected in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft by the New England Patriots.

Rex Grossman, QB

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    Craig Jones/Getty Images

    Class: 1999

    The Gators got Rex Grossman just as the BCS era began in 1999. The stud quarterback from Indiana decided to head south, which proved to be a wise decision.

    Grossman wound up being a consensus All-American in 2001, the same year he finished second in the Heisman voting. He threw for more than 9,100 yards en route to 77 passing touchdowns during his career.

    The Chicago Bears took Grossman in the first round of the 2003 NFL draft, and today he is the backup for the Washington Redskins. 

Lito Sheppard, CB

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Class: 1999

    Another stud Florida signed at the start of the BCS era is Lito Sheppard, who was generally felt by many to be the nation's top cornerback in 1999. In a time where recruiting coverage was nowhere near where it is now, Sheppard still had a ton of hype.

    Sheppard had unbelievable short-area quickness in coverage, plus he was a top-notch athlete. He was a natural cover corner who became a star for the Gators. 

    In 2002, the Philadelphia Eagles took Sheppard in the first round of the NFL draft. He went on to have a successful and decorated NFL career.

     

    Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.