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Florida Football Recruiting: Grading the Gators' 2011 Class

James WalkerAnalyst IIDecember 20, 2016

Florida Football Recruiting: Grading The Gators' 2011 Class

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    Today was the day fanatics of college football wait for every year—National Signing Day.  For the 2011 Florida Gators, it was a compelling event to say the least.

    By now everyone knows the story in Gainesville: Urban Meyer resigned, again, and Texas Longhorn coach-in-waiting was offered and accepted the Gators head coaching position.  Soon thereafter he hired a coaching staff that included Charlie Weis, the former Notre Dame head coach who helped the New England Patriots win more than one Super Bowl.

    All that is great, but what the entire staff had to address immediately was the 2011 recruiting class.  Urban Meyer and his staff started and received several verbal commitments before his resignation, but Muschamp had to add to and finalize it.

    Well, it all came down today, and taking into account the challenges that they faced, Will Muschamp and his staff did a good job.

    Here is a breakdown of the top 10 of 18 commitments that are the 2011 Florida Gators recruiting class.


    James Walker is a National and Syndicated Writer for Bleacher Report.  You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.  He can also be contacted via Google Talk/Buzz and Yahoo Instant Messenger as BRJamesWalker. 

No. 1: Jeff Driskel, Quarterback

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    Player: Jeff Driskel

    Position: Quarterback

    Height/Weight: 6’4”/225

    Where He Fits in Best: When he was initially recruited by Urban Meyer, he was thought to be the next great QB running the Gators' spread offense. However, there is a new guy in town who happens to wear more than one Super Bowl ring who runs things now.

    With uncertainty surrounding John Brantley’s ability to regain confidence after the 2010 debacle, Driskel may find playing time sooner than later.  Regardless, Driskel will be a future star in Gainesville; it’s simply a matter of time.

    Does It Fill a Void?  It will depend if John Brantley can come back from the dead, so to speak.  Some think that Jordan Reed may remain a quarterback, but most likely he’ll end up a tight end in Charlie Weis’ offense.

    Grade: A+

No. 2: Mike Blakely, Running Back

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    Player: Mike Blakely

    Position: Running Back

    Height/Weight: 5’9”/192

    Where He Fits in Best: Both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey will graduate after the 2011 season, and Mike Gillislee and others on the roster are still unproven as full-time starters.  If Blakely can recuperate completely from shoulder surgery this spring, then he may find some playing time.

    Does It Fill a Void?  Right now there is no shortage of running backs in Gainesville. 

    Grade: B

No. 3: A.C. Leonard, Tight End

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    Player: A.C. Leonard

    Position: Tight End

    Height/Weight: 6’3”/220

    Where He Fits in Best: Leonard could become the next Aaron Hernandez for the Gators.  He has the capability of catching the ball all over the field, and he has no problem blocking.  Again, it is up to Weis and the coaches to develop this kid, but there is only upside.

    Does It Fill a Void?  If Jordan Reed finds himself playing tight end this season, then no. 

    Grade: B

No. 4: Marcus Roberson, Defensive Back/Safety

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    Player: Marcus Roberson

    Position: Defensive Back/Safety

    Height/Weight: 6’0”/180

    Where He Fits in Best:  Now that Ahmad Black and Will Hill have left for the NFL, and the situation with Janoris Jenkins is unknown at this time, Roberson may find time on the field quickly.  He is slated as a safety, but has the ability to play corner if necessary.

    Does It Fill a Void? Janoris Jenkins is the key—his shoulder and watch issues, he keeps wearing the one that is stuck on 4:20—may keep him off the field some in 2011.  This may provide playing time immediately for Roberson.

    Grade: A

No. 5: Jabari Gorman, Defensive Back/Safety

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    Player: Jabari Gorman

    Position: Defensive Back/Safety

    Height/Weight: 5’11”/175

    Where He Fits in Best: Gorman is a hitter, and opponents in the SEC will find that out quickly.  It may be on special teams at first. Then again he too may find time in nickel and dime packages his freshman season.

    Does It Fill a Void?  Not necessarily, but there is no such thing as too many good defensive backs.

    Grade: B+

No. 6: Ja'Juan Story, Wide Receiver

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    Player: Ja’Juan Story

    Position: Wide Receiver

    Height/Weight: 6’4”/192

    Where He Fits in Best: With Weis' pro-style offense, clearly the Gators needed a wide receiver who is a prototypical NFL player, and that is what Story is.  He runs well, has a wide wingspan and gets into routes quickly. 

    Does It Fill a Void? Perhaps, and with everything else unknown with Florida's offense, it could be just what Florida needs.

    Grade: A

No. 7: Javares McRoy, Wide Receiver

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    Player: Javares McRoy

    Position: Wide Receiver

    Height/Weight: 5’9”/165

    Where He Fits in Best: In a pro-style offense, perhaps McRoy will find a home in the slot.  However, it is way too early to tell if and when McRoy will find time on offense.  Most likely he will find time on special teams before a spot on offense.

    Does It Fill a Void? Not necessarily, but if he finds a niche for himself, he could become an important part of the Florida offense.

    Grade: B/C

No. 8: Graham Stewart, Outside Linebacker

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    Player: Graham Stewart

    Position: Outside Linebacker

    Height/Weight: 6’2”/225

    Where He Fits in Best: Stewart may initially become a situational player on defense and find time on special teams due to his size and tenacity.

    Does It Fill a Void? No.  The Gators are stocked at the linebacker position.  That doesn't mean that Stewart can't make someone else find the bench while he finds the field one day.

    Grade: C

No. 9: Loucheiz Purifoy, Defensive Back/Cornerback

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    Player: Loucheiz Purifoy

    Position: Defensive Back/CB

    Height/Weight: 6’1”/170

    Where He Fits in Best: At this time it appears that Purifoy will be in the secondary, but his potential has no ceiling.  His quickness and natural athleticism is something Muschamp will leverage for the next four years.

    Does It Fill a Void? No.  However, if his speed is properly utilized he could become a return threat on punts or kickoffs.

    Grade: B

No. 10: De’Ante “Pop” Saunders, Defensive Back/Cornerback

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    Player: De’Ante “Pop” Saunders

    Position: Defensive Back/CB

    Height/Weight: 5’11”/170

    Where He Fits in Best:  Wherever quickness is needed.  Saunders is so fast that if you blink an eye, you'll have to look for him again.  He's another player who could become a special teams threat before making his mark in the secondary.

    Does It Fill a Void? No, but again speed wins games in the SEC, and if needed, he may become an immediate asset to the team.

    Grade: B

2011 National Signing Day: Summary Of The Florida Gators Class

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    The Florida Gators have been on top of the recruiting world for the past five years under Urban Meyer, and this class may be seen as a slight drop-off from the norm.  However, if you take into account the coaching change and uncertainty of what changes would take place in Gainesville, it's not surprising that some high school seniors and junior college transfers may be wary of signing with the Gators.

    Also, when you have had so many top classes year after year, there are only so many opportunities to play.  If a top-ranked player is wanting or expecting to play as soon as they arrive, then clearly Florida is most likely not the best destination at this time.

    Next up for Florida is the Spring Game in April when for the first time we will get to see Muschamp's version of the Gator football team.  Surely it will be an exciting time in Gainesville.

    The other recruits who signed today:

    • Valdez Showers, Athlete, Madison Heights High School (Mich.)
    • Clay Burton, DE, Venice High School (Fla.)
    • Trip Thurman, OT, Dover High School (Dela.)
    • Kyle Christy, K, Brownsburg High School (Ind.)
    • Hunter Joyer, FB, Tampa Catholic High School (Fla.)
    • Chris Johnson, S, Trinity Catholic High School (Fla.)
    • Tommy Jordan, OT, Ridgefield High School (Conn.)
    • Tevin Westbrook, DE, North Broward Prep School (Fla.)

    Only time will tell what these players do with their college careers.  Some will excel, some will be mediocre players and unfortunately some will ride pine for most of their career.  Stay tuned.

    Grade: B

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