So I know that this post is a little late, being that National Signing day was on Wednesday, Feb. 1, and everybody and their mother tweeted, posted, live chatted, blogged, facebooked, and tumblr’d their way through the day while I just took a deep breath and waited for the smoke to clear. I do this every year and this year was no different. I want to truly look at our class, our roster, and analyze exactly what we have. Ok, that’s a blatant lie. Truth is that I didn’t have the time and this was the earliest I could get to it. With that being said, lets move forward (just like I tell my wife) and get to the 2012 Florida Gator Signing Class.
According to Rivals.com, Florida finished third in the overall class rankings, behind Texas and Alabama. ESPN had Florida sitting in the fourth spot. But to be honest, all of this ranking stuff means nothing unless you are the 2007 class of the Florida Gators who had Aaron Hernandez, Joe Haden, Major Wright, Both Pouncy boys and someone that goes by the name of Cameron Newton. That class was ridiculous and very few can compare. Nonetheless, let’s get serious for a second about these rankings. If you really do some research you would be shocked. Some of these recruits never pan out especially the five star ones. They have huge ego issues and have to enter a place where somebody else is in charge. These recruits go from being seniors and on top of their high school to the bottom rung of the ladder. They are freshmen all over again. They now have to compete with the best of the best, especially if it is one of these top programs (that is why they are going there right?). Some of them keep thinking they will get by on shear talent and don’t work hard at all. They usually transfer or go home after the first season. Some of them have actually already peaked in high school and don’t have much room to grow. And some of them just don’t ever do anything except suck the lifeblood out of the program and poison the locker room. They ride the bench all year long. You also can’t forget the ones that leave early, because they are just too good. I would rather have a four year starter that peaks as a senior than a freshman wonder kid that leaves after one year. So you really can’t put to much stock into these rankings.
On to our class. The Gators had a total of 17 signed letters of intent on Wednesday and had six early recruits who had already enrolled at Florida for spring Classes. That brings the total to 23. Not bad for Muschamp’s first real recruiting season. 12 out of the 23 are listed as either a Tight End, Offensive Tackle, Defensive End, or Defensive Tackle. I love to see a reload at the line of scrimmage. God knows we need it. The remaining 11 are made up of 4 Defensive Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, 2 Linebackers, 1 Quarterback (watch out Driskel and Brissett), 1 Kicker, and 1 Running Back.
Lets go right into the running back. His name is Matt Jones and his new nickname is “Beast”. He is 6-3, 210 pounds and runs a 4.7 in the 40 yard dash. He’s like a young Brandon Jacobs form the NY Giants. I can’t wait to see what he can do. Goodbye Scat-back. Hello Freight Train/Bullet Train. We have 2 monster tight ends in Kent Taylor (6-5, 225 lbs) and Colin Thompson (6-5, 255 lbs). We have a total of five defensive ends, which is headlined by Jonathan Bullard (6-4, 255 lbs) and Dante Fowler Jr. (6-3, 232 lbs). Fowler was a wonderful surprise. He committed to that Tallahassee School over a year ago. It is nice to see that some of these recruits do the right thing. Included in that group is Bryan Cox Jr. (6-3, 240 lbs), the son of Former Miami Dolphin, Bryan Cox. As for our offensive line, I personally don’t think we could have done any better. We landed 2 of the top 5 recruits in the nation. D.J. Humphries (6-5, 265 lbs) enrolled at Florida for Spring classes in order to get a step up for this upcoming season. Jessamen Dunker, aka “Goliath”, is 6-6 and weighs close to 320 lbs. He is a giant and is only going to get bigger and stronger. Out of the four defensive backs, Marcus Maye (6-1, 195 lbs) and Brian Poole (5-11, 187 lbs) will look to make an impact early. Both of these recruits were at the top of their class in the nation for their position. Our 2 linebackers are Antonio Morrison (6-3, 220 lbs) and Jeremi Powell (6-2, 200 lbs). They will probably need a year or two underneath their belts in order to get stronger and faster although Antonio seems a little farther ahead. Everything changes though once they step onto the practice field. We received a very nice surprise on signing day with the pickup of wide receiver, Raphael Andrades (6-0, 190 lbs, 4.5sec 40 yard dash). He was coached by former Gator Jacquez Green. The other wide receiver in the group is Latroy Pittman (6-1, 190 lbs). Our one kicker is Austin Harden (?-?, ??? lbs) and to be honest, they shouldn’t even list his height and weight. They should list the size of his leg, girth, and field goal statistics. Some of the smallest guys have been the best kickers. Just ask Jason Elam. Rounding out the group are three solid defensive tackles and a quarterback. The tackles are Damien Jacobs (6-4, 290 lbs), JaFar Mann (6-4, 275 lbs) and Dante Phillips (6-6, 268 lbs). Phillips was ranked as the number 9 defensive tackle in the nation. The quarterback is a late commitment, being that he had always planned on attending Penn State in the fall (we all know what happened there). Instead, he flipped his decision once the Gators hired offensive coordinator, Brent Pease. His name is Skyler Mornhinweg (6-3, 215 lbs). He isn’t terribly polished and needs some work, but has great size, is athletic and has a nice arm.
And that does it. The class of 2012. Finally its over. Finally we can get back to real tangible business like…next years class. It never ends in college football. You finish with one recruiting class and you are already on to the next. Its the nature of the beast. Just look at the Gators who received two verbal commitments for the 2013 signing class on National Signing Day of the 2012 class. Recruiting is what gives a program a great start. However its the coaches and administration that really molds them into the players they will become. Good thing for us we have one of th emost talented young coaches in the nation in Will Muschamp. Looking forward to this upcoming season.