Signing Day: Florida Gators Remain No. 1
In 2006, Florida brought in the No. 2 recruiting class in the nation (or No. 1 if you prefer Scout/com rankings). There wasn't an unusual amount of hype surrounding the class with the exception of future legend Tim Tebow.
At the time, it was just another great recruiting class.
Fast forward to 2010 and we can render a final verdict. With two national championships, three BCS bowl wins, a Heisman (two additional top-5 Heisman finishes), All-Americans, and a 48–7 record, this class wasn't just great, it was the best Florida Gators class ever.
Now, the Gators have solidified the strongest class, on paper, that the university has ever seen. Less than halfway through Signing Day and the Gators only have one scholarship remaining.
With Travon Van and Chaz Green the Gators went 28/28 for commitments, the equivalent of a perfect game in baseball. Considering Meyer's soap–opera story in December, this is the David Wells of signing days. The Gators got black–out drunk and still managed to go perfect.
You really couldn't get anymore hyped than this class is. We're in LeBron James "Crown 'em!" territory right now.
This class is so good that the No. 12 prospect in the nation decommitted without a single other program gaining ground (landing Nos. 1, 3, 9, and 10 probably had something to do with the stabilization at the top).
The scary thing is, this class, if it pans out, is more useful than simply being a collection of the top athletes in the nation.
It's a very smartly recruited class. The top recruits fill the most critical holes left by the Gators entering the 2010 NFL draft.
Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap are gone. Add Joe Haden, Ryan Stamper, and Brandon Spikes to the list and pretty much all of the Gators' 2009 pass rush has moved on.
Five-star DE/OLB Ronald Powell and five-star DT/DE Dominique Easley will fill the gap left by the outgoing juniors and seniors. Both players offer a measure of versatility as well.
When Charlie Strong left, his 3–3–5 nickel went with him. Whether or not the Gators continue to use the system remains to be seen. George Edwards is a 3–4 guy, so it's very possible that the 3–3–5 will remain.
Regardless, the incoming line can play 3–4, 4–3 or 3–3–5.
Because of the limited upper-classmen depth at DE, Powell will be an immediate contributor and possibly a starter.
I wouldn't be surprised if Easley is in the opening day rotation either.
Joshua Shaw will probably continue the Urban Meyer trend of having a freshman replace the outgoing cornerback too, giving the Gators' 2010 class two potential day-one starters and three heavy contributors on defense.
Five-star safeties Jonathan Dowling and Matt Elam could fill Will Hill's nickelback position in the 3–3–5. Like Hill, they will also likely make their debut on special teams.
Then there's Jordan Haden, Joe Haden's little brother. You know, the Joe Haden. The four-star recruit who turned into one of, if not, the best DBs the Gators had during the 2000s.
Jordan is rated four stars by Rivals.com and a high three stars on ESPN.
Offensively, the Gators add TE Gerald Christian, who will battle 2009 recruit Desmond Parks for Aaron Hernandez's position. Parks redshirted after an injury prior to last season.
Assuming both players are healthy, the Gators may unveil the rumored double TE sets that we were supposed to see last year.
ESPN 150 WRs Chris Dunkley, Adrian Coxson and Solomon Patton will hopefully add depth to the critically shallow receiving corps.
With Andre Debose's injury last year and Deonte Thompson's minimal progression, the Gators don't have a No. 1 receiving target heading into 2010. Hopefully someone will step up during the spring and summer so the position isn't a work–in–progress on opening day.
Overall, the Gators landed a handful of five-star recruits and over a dozen four-star recruits. Seventeen members of the class were members of ESPN's 150 best prospects.
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