Florida assembling a class for the ages
Gators already have the nation's top class, but this could turn into the best of all time
SAN ANTONIO -- The Florida Gators have what is already the nation's top-ranked recruiting class. Apparently, that's not good enough. After landing three more of the nation's top players during the Army All-American Bowl, the Gators are assembling one of the best recruiting classes of all time.
One week after scoring defensive tackle Dominique Easley (Staten Island, N.Y./Curtis) and receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) during the Under Armour All-America Game, the Gators earned commits from DT Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia/George Washington), ATH Matt Elam (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) and five-star DE Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde).
Even some of the Gators' commits are surprised at how this class has come together over the past two weeks. Four-star tight end Gerald Christian (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Dwyer) has been there from the beginning, having committed to Florida in April of his junior year, but didn't see this coming.
"We have a very ridiculous class," said Christian, who is No. 32 in the ESPNU 150. "We have three five-stars and a lot of people didn't think people were going to commit because of all of the stuff that went on with Urban Meyer. I'm glad to see it turned out the way it has. I didn't expect it to turn out this way but it's amazing."
The all-star games are normally a fertile recruiting ground for committed players to recruit other players to join them at their school, but Christian hasn't even had to sell the program.
"Florida is basically just recruiting itself right now. I haven't had to say a thing," Christian said.
The commitment party got started for the Gators at halftime when Floyd, the four-star DT, picked Florida over Ohio State, North Carolina and South Carolina.
"I just felt Florida was the best fit for me," Floyd said. "I felt as though Florida and Ohio State were good fits, but Florida was just like a home away from home and I know I'll grow as a player. I think Florida is the best fit for me to spend the next four years of my life."
The commitment by Floyd gives the Gators two of the top defensive tackles in the country in Floyd and Easley.
The second of three commits was in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter when Elam, a four-star athlete, pledged to the Gators for the second time. He decommitted from Florida and abruptly (but briefly) committed to Florida State after the news of Urban Meyer's resignation and subsequent decision to take a leave of absence a little more than a week ago.
"I'm a Gator for good," Elam said. "I'm putting my trust in Coach [Urban] Meyer. I had a talk with him earlier this week and I'm trusting that he will be back."
The Florida recruiting haul played a part in Elam's decision to make the switch back to the Gators.
"The recruiting class is phenomenal. The defensive linemen are phenomenal and that is a big part of having a great defense. The secondary is great too," Elam said.
The banner day was capped off late in the fourth quarter when Powell, the No. 3 prospect in the ESPNU 150, picked the Gators over USC.
"Both programs are great and I couldn't have gone wrong with either, but Florida is where I'm supposed to be," he said. "I put the decision in God's hands, prayed on it and Florida was the answer."
But the Gators might not be done yet. Notre Dame commitment Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati/Moeller) is in Gainesville being wooed by the Gators. Florida is the lone school other than Notre Dame the strong-armed signal-caller is considering.
The Gators are still in the running for the nation's top prospect, Jackson Jeffcoat (Plano, Texas/West), who will visit Jan. 15 along with the No. 2 prospect and top linebacker Jordan Hicks (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West). Jeffcoat is considering Florida, USC, Arizona State, Houston, Texas and Oklahoma, while Hicks is nearing a decision with Florida holding the edge over Texas and Ohio State. All three schools made in-home visits to Hicks this week, with Texas getting the last word on Saturday.
The Gators are also in the running for top offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (Minneapolis/Cretin-Derham) and four-star OT Matt James (Cincinnati/St. Xavier), as well as a handful of four-star receiving prospects including Christian Green (Tampa, Fla./Catholic), Ivan McCartney (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) and Kadron Boone (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic).
In other words, believe it or not, this class could still get even better.
Gerry Hamilton has covered recruiting in Texas and the Southwest for more than a decade. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.