The US Army All-American Bowl game was today on NBC, and though the score, as usual, was inconsequential, the commitments made at the game will send shock waves through the college football community.
Quite simply, if the Gators can hold on to the class they have now, they will have pulled one of the greatest recruiting coups in all of history.
Pennsylvania defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd's "surprise" announcement was for the school in Gainesville, as was five-star defensive end Ronald Powell's (pictured).
And in an announcement everyone (and no one) could see coming, four-star "ATH" (athlete)—and temporary defector to the Florida State Seminoles—Matt Elam recommitted to Florida as well.
With the commitment last week of four-star end (and game MVP) Dominique Easley, the Gators now field one of the most talented defensive lines in all of college football.
Remarkably, this all comes just a month removed from the retirement/rehiring of their head coach and the loss of their defensive coordinator, Charlie Strong, and one of their chief recruiters, Billy Gonzales, to other programs.
Powell's decision comes as no surprise—he was choosing between Florida and USC, and the Gators led way before Pete Carroll decided to head to the NFL.
But his performance in the game cemented him as a standout player among the nation's elite. He made two of the most exciting plays in the game for the White team, catching a pass off play-action that showed his scary versatility and returning a blocked extra point that showcased his speed.
He doesn't have the size to be a weak-side end in college football (yet), but he and Easley will be unblockable pass-rushers exploding upfield on passing downs as early as next year.
Anchoring the middle of the refurbished Gators line will be UF's newest steal, Floyd. The four-star defensive tackle was headed to Ohio State a week ago but announced he would "surprise" us with his announcement. Floyd made the rest of the game's huge plays, destroying the White's double-teams on the offensive line and getting in the backfield on a multitude of plays.
Does this all project to Florida's immediate success next year? Of course not. But in just two or three years, Powell, Easley, and Floyd will man one of the most dominant and fearsome lines in college football.
Add to that the commitments of five-star safeties Demar Dorsey and Johnathon Dowling, plus cornerback Jsohua Shaw, and the Gators' defense will have them back in the national championship, Tim Tebow or no Tim Tebow.
Here's a look at the other eight commitments:
As expected, four-star ATH Marquis Flowers remained in-state, picking the hometown Arizona Wildcats over the other suitors in the Pac-10. He's projected at safety for the rebuilding Wildcats, who lost their defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops, to Florida State.
Amidst turmoil over the defection of Carroll, top corner Demetrius Wright chose the Trojans over Tennessee. He also considered Arizona and Washington. However, the 2010 class didn't go unscathed: the Trojans reportedly lost the commitments of five-star ATH Dillon Baxter and four-star ATH D.J. Morgan, per various Twitter accounts.
Four-star corner Dior Mathis chose the Oregon Ducks over the Michigan Wolverines. I can tell you from following Michigan recruiting closely that Michigan's coaches cooled on Mathis' recruitment as the year went on. I think they felt burned by the poor play of undersized corner Boubacar Cissoko and didn't want to take a chance on Mathis, who is also small for his position. All the same, best of luck to the Ducks with Mathis.
Four-star linebacker C.J. Mosley chose Alabama over Auburn. The situation was tipping the Tide's way for a little while, but Auburn fans never lose a recruit to Alabama and feel good about it. Just repeat: Cameron Newton, Michael Dyer, Cameron Newton...
Tennessee picked up Brandon Willis, a four-star defensive end who decommitted from the Vols earlier in the week but rejoined them in the AAA ceremony. A push, by all counts.
Four-star corner Victor Hampton chose to stay home and play for the Gamecocks next year, keeping Spurrier's defensive machine rolling. If only that was his intention...
And, in news that elated me as a Michigan man but depressed me as a Big Ten fan, four-star ATH/S Latwan Anderson chose West Virginia over presumed suitor Ohio State. The Big Televen is now 0-for-15 on big-name recruit announcements this season. Let's just hope it can keep Seantrel Henderson in conference; the big fella is taking his fifth official visit to Miami over Iowa or Michigan.