GAINESVILLE -- Weary eyes from reading recruiting websites. Weary ears from calling high school coaches. Weary fingertips from text messaging high school students. National Signing Day is here.
Florida's NSD press conference is at 1 p.m. You can watch it live on GatorZone.com (for a fee) or you can just read my blog (for free).
Florida coach Urban Meyer is known as a great closer in the world of recruiting. He had his work cut out for him over the past three weeks. Florida returns 19 of 22 starters, including all 11 defenders, for the 2009 season. In years past, Meyer was able to sell recruits on the prospect of early playing time. The sales pitch was slightly different this time around. Play for a champion. Plain and simple.
Florida enters today with 10 oral commitments (six players of the 2009 recruiting class are already enrolled). Those 10 oral commitments are non-binding agreements until players sign their official letters of intent and fax them to Florida's coaching office this morning. Here are my predictions for what to expect today. We'll see soon enough how things shake out.
Before we get to the high school players who haven't committed to a school, let's a take a close look at a few UF commitments who might pull a NSD switch-a-roo.
1. Gary Brown, defensive tackle, Quincy West Gadsden: Brown is a five-star talent, according to Rivals.com. That means he's supposed to be pretty darn good. Brown has been committed to Florida since March 5 of last year. That means little in recruiting, though. One former UF commitment, Greg Reid of Georgia, was the Gators' first commitment of the 2009 class. He announced on Tuesday night that he's heading to Florida State. Could Brown follow Reid's lead? Brown visited Florida State last weekend. Did the Seminoles steal Brown from the Gators? I don't think so. Brown's parents like Urban Meyer. Meyer does a great job of recruiting parents. Gator Clause prediction: Gary Brown to UF.
2. Andre Debose, receiver, Sanford Seminole: Like Brown, Debose also visited Florida State last weekend. Like Brown, Debose is still likely headed to Florida. Expect Debose, another five-star talent, to fax his letter to UF this morning. With the loss of Percy Harvin to the NFL Draft, Debose is one of the few players of this signing class who could contribute immediately on offense. Gator Clause prediction: Andre Debose to UF.
3. Nu'Keese Richardson, receiver, Pahokee: Richardson committed to Florida way back on 30 May 2008. That didn't stop Tennessee and its new coaching staff of persuading Richardson's parents to fly their son to Knoxville, Tenn., last weekend for an official visit. Tennessee pulled out the Gators' depth chart in an attempt to steal Richardson from the Gators. UF returns five underclassmen receivers next season, including three redshirt freshmen. Just a guess, but I suspect Tennessee told Richardson that if he signs with Florida, then he can expect to redshirt next season. Was it enough to scare Richardson into signing with the Vols? Doubt it. Richardson loves the Gators. One of his best friends and former high school teammates, UF sophomore-to-be Janoris Jenkins, is a Gator. No way he jilts his true love for an SEC East rival. Gator Clause prediction: Richardson to UF.
4. Marsalis Teague, athlete, Paris (Tenn.) Henry County: Teague committed to UF on Dec. 19 of last year. If Phil Fulmer was still the coach at Tennessee, then Teague would be headed to Florida. I don't think that's the case anymore. Gator Clause prediction: Teague to Tennessee.
Now for the uncommitted players UF spent the past three weeks trying to bring to Gainesville. In recruiting lingo, these players are referred to as targets. With Teague staying home and headed to Knoxville, Tenn., UF will likely sign three or four of these players.
1. Joshua Evans, athlete, Irvington (N.J.) High: Evans is expected to play safety in college. He visited Pittsburgh last weekend and is also considering Purdue and Oklahoma. With Teague likely gone to Tennessee, expect Evans to sign with the Gators today. Thanks to UF assistant Steve Addazio, UF has built a pipeline from New Jersey to Gainesville. Gator Clause prediction: Evans to UF.
2. Jarvis Jones, linebacker/defensive lineman, Columbus (Ga.) Carver: Jones is apparently a longtime Florida fan. But UF's defensive depth chart is loaded down with returning players and UF's rivals are using that against the Gators. In addition to UF, Jones is considering Texas, Southern Cal, Georgia and LSU. This one is too close to call, but I'll make a prediction anyway. That's what this blog post is all about, right? Gator Clause prediction: Jones to UF.
3. Trent Richardson, running back, Pensacola Escambia: Richardson, committed to Alabama, is close friends with several of the Crimson Tide's players. UF made a valiant effort to steal Richardson away from UA but this guy will be in the Crimson Tide's backfield next season. Gator Clause prediction: Richardson to UA.
4. Denard Robinson, quarterback/athlete, Deerfield Beach: Robinson is considering Florida, Central Florida, Michigan and Tennessee. When Tebow returned for his senior season that was enough to push Robinson away. Gator Clause prediction: Robinson to Michigan.
5. Jelani Jenkins, linebacker, Olny (Md.) Our Lady of Good Counsel: Jenkins could be the crowning jewel of the Gators' 2009 recruiting class. He is also considering Penn State but the recruiting websites believe Jenkins is headed to Gainesville. After talking with Jenkins' high school coach, so do I. Gator Clause prediction: Jenkins to UF.
6. Orson Charles, tight end, Tampa Plant: Charles is not signing with a school on Wednesday. Instead, Charles will take an official visit to Southern Cal this weekend. In addition UF and USC, Charles is considering FSU, Georgia and Tennessee. Charles' high school quarterback, Aaron Murray, graduated early from Tampa Plant and is already enrolled at Georgia. Gator Clause prediction: Charles to Southern Cal.
7. Dre Kirkpatrick, cornerback, Gadsden (Ala.) City High: Kirkpatrick wants to play as a freshman and he'll get his chance at Alabama. Gator Clause prediction: Kirkpatrick to Alabama.
For those counting at home, the subtraction of Teague and the additions of Evans, Jones and Jenkins gives UF 18 players for the Class of 2009. That seems like a low number. Could Denard Robinson be headed to UF? Will Teague remain true to his commitment? What about Trent Richardson or Orson Charles? We'll have to wait and see what happens.