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February 19, 2012
On the heels of finishing with the No. 3 class in the 2012 team rankings, Florida has started the 2013 recruiting cycle on fire. Entering the weekend, the Gators held commitments from four prospects, including three members of the recently released Rivals250. An outstanding Junior Day event on Saturday saw that commitment list swell to 10 total prospects, eight of whom are ranked as four-stars.
All 10 future Gators hail from the Sunshine State. Some believe it may be a sign that Florida is turning its sights inward and staying in-state, but it can likely be contributed to a strong class in Florida for 2013, especially at some major positions of need. A season ago, 12 of 23 Florida signees came from within the state borders.
Not only is coach Will Muschamp and staff adding top-tier talent, but they are also doing a very good job of addressing needs early on.
Their recent additions this weekend began with adding Rivals250 running back Kelvin Taylor from Belle Glade (Fla.) Glades Day. Taylor, who is the younger son of former Gator and long-time NFL running back Fred Taylor, joins Winter Haven (Fla.) running back Adam Lane in the 2013 class. During the 2012 recruiting cycle Florida attempted to sign two running backs, but ended up with just one - Seffner (Fla.) Armwood four-star Matt Jones - when Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson four-star back Mike Davis defected. Locking up two top-tier running backs early on, both of whom intend to enroll early at Florida, is the start to adding depth at a key position on the offense.
The next commitment on Saturday came from St. Petersburg (Fla.) Lakewood four-star wide receiver Rodney Adams. Adams is a big-play wide receiver who is an excellent vertical threat. The 6-foot-1, 166-pounder provides a vertical threat that Florida missed on during the 2012 cycle when five-star prospects Stefon Diggs and Nelson Agholor decided to head elsewhere. Adams is the first wide receiver commitment for Florida in 2013, but likely won't be the last. Prospects such as Oakland Park (Fla.) Northeast four-star Stacy Coley and the Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln duo of Taj Williams and Reggie Davis are just a few examples of wideouts giving the Gators a serious look.
One player who didn't pledge to Florida but came away very impressed with his time in Gainesville was Lake City (Fla.) Columbia five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. Tunsil, who is ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the nation, would be the crown jewel of Florida's offensive line class. While he isn't ready to make a decision yet, Florida has positioned itself very well to be in the thick of it with him until the very end. A commitment from Tunsil would mark the second consecutive season that the Gators landed the nation's top offensive tackle.
Florida's next four commitments on Saturday came from the defensive side of the ball.
Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland four-star linebacker Quinton Powell was the third prospect to pull the trigger on the day. Powell is a speed rusher who can play off the edge. He is a nice complement to a pair of linebackers that pledged to Florida earlier - Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast four-star Daniel McMillian and Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln four-star James Hearns. By the end of Saturday, Florida had also added Crestview (Fla.) linebacker Dillan Lawson. All four linebackers are punishing hitters with a variety of skills, and will provide depth and versatility at the linebacker spot.
Another position where the Gators added a pair on Saturday was at defensive back. Jacksonville (Fla.) Trinity Christian safety Nick Washington got things started when he was the fourth pledge to Florida during the event. Washington, a Rivals250 prospect, is a versatile defensive back who can play cornerback or safety, and that is how Florida intends to use him. Later on Saturday evening, Bushnell (Fla.) South Sumter safety Keanu Neal, also ranked as a four-star prospect, decided to commit. Neal also brings versatility to the secondary as he can play as a true safety or come down in more of a linebacker role.
The Gators' other defensive commitment, which came in late January after their first Junior Day for the 2013 class, was from four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley. The Rivals100 defensive tackle is a high-impact player in the middle of the defensive line and was working very hard on Saturday to get others, including current Miami commitment Keith Bryant from Delray Beach (Fla.) Atlantic, to join him in Gainesville.
Needless to say, Florida is off to an excellent start and isn't showing any signs of slowing down. While it landed six commitments Saturday, the lasting effects of the Junior Day event will likely be seen for weeks and months.