- David Helman, Reporter, RecruitingNation
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LSU and Florida aren't exactly close together. The SEC rivals' states don't border each other, and at nearly 600 miles away, Gainesville, Fla., is LSU's longest regular trip in conference play. But that hasn't stopped a regular and heated rivalry between the two powerhouses in the last decade for top-notch recruits.
The Gators and Tigers have combined for seven SEC championships and four national titles since 2000, and Florida coach Will Muschamp is a former LSU assistant, so it's only natural the two programs would be in constant competition for the nation's best players. The rivalry mainly hits home for the Gators, however, as LSU routinely infiltrates the Sunshine State for blue-chip prospects. The Tigers boast three Floridians on the roster this season and have recently raided the state for all-star talents such as Patrick Peterson and Ryan Baker. The Gators have had just three scholarship players from Louisiana since 2000: safety Deshawn Carter, offensive lineman Sylvester McGrew and quarterback Brock Berlin.
Here's a look at a few of the talents the pair have scrapped for in the recent past:
(Sanford, Fla./Seminole): Chose Florida over LSU on Jan. 4, 2009.
As a recruit: Debose was considered the No. 17 player in the 2009 recruiting class and the second-best wide receiver overall. Selected to play in the 2009 Under Armour All-America Game.
How it went down: LSU was long considered the leader in the clubhouse for Debose's services, but the home-state school won out in the end. Debose declared for Florida on TV during the Under Armour game.
Since he enrolled: Debose was billed entering school as the successor to dynamo playmaker Percy Harvin. He has shown flashes of the speed that made him a hot commodity -- he returned a kickoff for a touchdown as a redshirt freshman against LSU. But he has struggled to find consistency and drawn criticism from Muschamp for his work ethic. This season, he has yet to register a reception. He is averaging 9.6 yards per attempt as the Gators' punt returner.
(Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic): Chose LSU over Florida on Feb. 3, 2010.
As a recruit: Ranked the No. 85 player in the 2010 recruiting class and the No. 15 receiver in the country.
How it went down: A year after Billy Gonzales helped keep Debose at home as the Gators receivers coach, he helped lure Boone away from the Gainesville area in his new job at LSU. Boone was originally a Texas Tech commitment, but he backed off after the firing of Mike Leach. Florida seemed the favorite to reel in the hometown player, but Gonzales and the Tigers swooped in at the 11th hour.
Since he enrolled: Boone struggled to find playing time in a loaded LSU receiving corps, and he even considered transferring after a disappointing 2011 season. He is off to a strong start in 2012, however. He leads the team with three receiving touchdowns and has tallied 10 catches for 177 yards after five games.
With two such prominent programs butting heads, the battles aren't limited to the locals, though. LSU and Florida are facing each other on a national scale, with particular prominence in this year's class.
(Hope Mills, N.C./South View): Undecided.
As a recruit: Ranked 101st in this year's ESPN 150 and considered the ninth-best defensive tackle in the class.
The rundown: It's going to wind up being either LSU or Florida for Gilmore, barring some kind of last-minute drama. Gilmore has had the two listed as his favorites since early this summer, and he hasn't wavered. He visited Gainesville for the Gators' beat down of Kentucky on Sept. 22, and he came away raving. He'll be taking several visits during October, but LSU gets the last chance to impress. Gilmore will take an official visit to Baton Rouge for the Alabama game on Nov. 3 before making his decision the next week.
LB Kain Daub
(Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood): Class of 2014; committed to LSU on July 14.
As a recruit: Rankings aren't even ready for next year's class, but Daub figures to factor prominently. The junior made the ESPN Watch List -- released last week.
The rundown: Daub's commitment at LSU's July recruiting camp came as a bit of a surprise to everyone, but he has said since Day 1 he is comfortable with the decision and has shut down his recruitment process. He plans to be at The Swamp this weekend to watch LSU take on the Gators. With 15 months until Daub can sign a letter of intent, and considering the scrutiny he'll be under as an out-of-state commit, it will be interesting to see where his recruitment goes from here.
1dKevin Van Valkenburg