Florida recruiting notebook

A look at each Florida school's needs and who it's targeting, plus return of the mailbag

Originally Published: March 25, 2011
By Corey Long | ESPN Recruiting

It's not surprising that Florida, FSU and Miami have jumped out among the early leaders for the top 2012 class. The Gators and Hurricanes are expected to sign big numbers, while FSU is coming off the No. 1 class in 2011. It's going to be another hot battle in the Sunshine State.

Here is a quick breakdown of where each school is headed as junior day events and spring evaluations start to wind down.

Florida

Florida Gators

Current commits
Mike Davis, RB (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson); Jessamen Dunker, OT (Boynton Beach, Fla./Boynton Beach); Matt Jones, RB (Seffner, Fla./Armwood); Omari Phillips, OT (Venice, Fla./Venice); LaTroy Pittman, WR (Citra, Fla./North Marion); Jeremi Powell (Largo, Fla./Pinellas Park); Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson).

Expected size of class
The Gators should sign a very large class for 2012, probably between 25 and 28, after signing only 20 players in the Class of 2011.

Needs
Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, defensive backs

Thoughts
So far so good with the first full class in the Will Muschamp era. He entered the program with Phillips and Pittman already in house and he's continued to add from there. Dunker is a huge get early and could really be the pace-setter for this class. There are plenty of needs for depth, and Muschamp needs to get more of the right players to fit his 3-4 defensive alignment. This class should be top five nationally.

Current targets
Florida is probably going to sign five or six offensive linemen and seems to be in good standing for Evan Goodman (Lakeland, Fla./Lakeland). The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder visited the school during his spring break last week and is a likely candidate to commit before his senior season starts. The Gators are also going hard after John Theus (Jacksonville, Fla./Bolles), but with his older brother, Nathan, heading to Georgia it's going to be tough to see John playing anywhere but in Athens. Defensive back Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) has also said Florida is his leader, and most feel the Gators are the team to beat for Brian Poole (Bradenton, Fla./Southeast), too.

Florida State

Florida State Seminoles

Current commits
Roberto Aguayo, PK (Masctte, Fla./South Lake); Chris Casher, DE/OLB (Mobile, Ala./Faith Academy); Mario Edwards, DE (Denton, Texas/Billy Ryan); Dante Fowler Jr., DE (St. Petersburg, Fla./Lakewood Senior); Mario Pender, RB (Cape Coral, Fla./Island Coast); Dalvon Stuckey, DT (Defuniak Springs, Fla./Walton Senior); P.J. Williams (Ocala, Fla./Vanguard)

Expected size of class
It should be a smaller class, probably between 16 and 20, after signing 29 players in the Class of 2011 and only losing 13 scholarship seniors after the 2011 season.

Needs
Defensive linemen, wide receiver, quarterback

Thoughts
The Class of 2011 addressed most of the Seminoles' needs, especially on the offensive line, at running back and at defensive back. So Jimbo Fisher and his staff will be a little more selective in how they will fill slots this time. With Edwards, Fowler, Casher and Stuckey committed, many of the defensive line needs have been addressed.

Current targets
The Seminoles have established a strong pipeline at First Coast (Jacksonville), and Watch List wide receiver Chris Black has been a target since he was a junior. Several quarterbacks have come through Tallahassee this spring to get a closer look, including Zeke Pike (Fort Mitchell, Ky./Dixie Heights) and Bennie Coney (Plant City, Fla./Plant City). Even though Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep) is playing his recruitment close to the vest, there are thoughts that FSU is on his short list, and the Seminoles' staff loves his athleticism and versatility.

Miami

Miami Hurricanes

Current commits
Willie Bailey, CB (Hallandale, Fla./Hallandale); Keith Brown, LB (Miami/Miami Norland); Gray Crow, QB (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside); Randy Johnson, ATH (Miami/Miami Norland); Amos Leggett, CB (Miami/Gulliver Prep); Trenton Taylor, DE (Lakeland/Lake Gibson); David Thompson, QB (Miami/Westminster Christian).

Expected size of class
After signing just 17 players in the Class of 2011, new coach Al Golden will bring in a full group, probably 25-plus.

Needs
Quarterback, defensive Line, linebackers, defensive backs, wide receivers

Thoughts
The Hurricanes will need major upgrades in talent for nearly every position, and Golden has gotten off to a fast start by bringing in Leggett, Brown and Johnson, among others. Johnson, an Under Armour All-American, is exactly the sort of player Miami needs. He can do several things on the field and he plays with a sense of urgency.

Current targets
The word that another Under Armour All-American, wide receiver Avery Johnson (Pompano Beach, Fla./Ely), is leaning toward Miami, despite his commitment to LSU, is ironic considering his older brother, defensive back Patrick Peterson, committed to Miami early before switching to LSU in a move that left Hurricanes fans very sour. Defensive back Deon Bush (Miami/Christopher Columbus) might be the best safety in the nation, and the Hurricanes want him -- but so does everyone else.

South Florida

South Florida Bulls

Current commits
Ryan Brown, DE (Marrero, La./Archbishop Shaw); Reno Henderson (Ocala/Vanguard); Rayshawn Jenkins, DB (St. Petersburg/Admiral Farragut).

Expected size of class
After signing 21 players in 2010 and 2011, the Bulls will probably sign between 22 and 25 prospects, because they have a little more room for a couple of extra bodies this year.

Needs
Defensive line, offensive line, quarterback, defensive back

Thoughts
USF's class will start to take form during the summer, but Brown and Henderson are solid, underrated talents. Jenkins, meanwhile, is a player who could find an on-field role as a true freshman.

Current targets
It's still early in the process for USF, but the Bulls should be looking for another scholarship quarterback, and Coney could be that guy. Coach Skip Holtz wants USF to get much more active in the Tampa Bay area, and even though Fowler (FSU) and Jones (UF) have already committed there's plenty more out there. It doesn't look like defensive end Tyriq McCord (Tampa/Jefferson Senior) will leave the state, and that gives the Bulls a big-time local target to shoot for, but they will have to battle the Gators and Hurricanes for him.

Rest of the field

Central Florida Knights
Central Florida UCF doesn't have an early commitment yet, but that's not much of a surprise since the Knights usually don't before summer, and with a class that could be between 12 and 15 players there is little margin for error. The Knights do have a big junior day event coming up this weekend, and some of the area's top talents, such as Alton Howard (Orlando, Fla./Edgewater), Diquan Jefferson (Ocala/Trinity Catholic) and Patrick Harris (Groveland/South Lake), are expected to be in attendance.

Florida Atlantic Owls
Florida Atlantic Most of Florida Atlantic's offseason junior day events have revolved around tours of its soon-to-be completed new on-campus stadium. The 30,000-seat facility will be ready for action this fall and the hope is it will provide a similar boost to what UCF experienced with its on-campus stadium and indoor practice field.

Florida International Golden Panthers
Florida International FIU had a strong junior day event last month that included wide receivers Jeremy Glinton (Oakland Park, Fla./Northeast) and Elston Lane Jr. (Miami/Gulliver Prep).

Notes

• This weekend will be the second tryout for Badger Sports 7-on-7 team, made up of players between Pensacola and Tallahassee. The team will compete in the Mobile Badger Sports tournament in late April. Under Armour All-American Eddie Williams (Panama City, Fla./Arnold) and LaDarion Young (Pensacola, Fla./Trinity Catholic) will be among the group in the tryouts this Sunday at Legion Field in Pensacola.

• Quarterback Trenton Norvell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Seabreeze Senior) currently has offers from Marshall and Temple. The 6-4, 210-pounder recently took a visit to Marshall and said, Iit was a very nice campus, and I enjoyed the opportunity to interact with their coaching staff." Purdue is also heavily interested in Norvell and could get an unofficial visit this summer.

• Defensive back Travis Blanks (Tallahassee/North Florida Christian) is visiting Auburn for his spring vacation. The Tigers are thought to be one of the favorites to land the talented, 6-1, 190-pounder. Georgia and Alabama are also among the top schools for Blanks.

Mailbag

The inbox has been burning up a little, so let's clear this thing out.

Corey, is [Avery] Johnson's talking about [Miami] serious or is he just playing with the hearts of Hurricanes fans?
Sam Livington, Homestead, Fla.

I don't blame Hurricanes fans for being a little apprehensive about Johnson's recent statements, given the situation that happened with Peterson a few years ago. I think it's best to just wait to see because so much can happen between now and the Under Armour All-America Game. Give credit to Golden for his pursuit of Johnson and that the talented receiver is talking to the Miami program right now.

You've written about tight end Kent Taylor (Land O' Lakes, Fla./Land O' Lakes), where do you see him landing?
Charlie Robelle, Brooksville, Fla.

My early impression is that it's going to come down to Florida and Miami.

After all the camps you've been to, who is a player that you think is going to be a name to watch for over the summer?
Kion Watson, Kissimmee, Fla.

Defensive back Larry Hope (Hialeah, Fla./American) is a player I'm high on. He's got offers from USF, Wisconsin, Kansas and Buffalo, but I expect that number to hit double digits by the summer. Chris Bivins (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) is another cornerback I like and, after receiving offers from USF and Utah this week, I wouldn't be shocked if UCF offers him this weekend during its junior day. Another defensive back, actually more of a big safety, Sam Green (Plant City/Plant City), is quietly picking up BCS offers, he already has Cincinnati, Rutgers and USF interested. I would also keep an eye out for Travares Copeland (Fort Pierce, Fla./Treasure Coast) because his offer list could get into double digits this summer.

Corey Long has been covering high school football and recruiting in the Sunshine State since 1995. He can be reached at coreyespn@gmail.com.

Corey Long

Reporter, RecruitingNation