GAINESVILLE -- OK, the last couple of days have been crazy for Gator Nation. First, Wondy Pierre-Louis' family is affected by the earthquake in Port-au-Prince, then Pierre-Louis allegedly chokes his girlfriend, then Pierre-Louis goes missing, then Pierre-Louis goes to jail, then former UF broadcaster Steve Babik is arrested for allegedly doing really bad things. Man, I didn't get into sports to cover all this craziness!
Let's refocus on some good news. The UF football team is putting together a historic recruiting class for the ages, the universe and everything after. Florida and coach Urban Meyer recently earned the Gators' 25th commitment. Linebacker Michael Taylor of Atlanta Westlake is the new man onboard after de-committing from the Tennessee Volunteers. Taylor is a bit on the small side (6-0, 195 pounds) but what he lacks in stature he apparently more than makes up for with punch. He's a strong tackler and his recruiting stock has risen considerably after he was named a MVP of the Under Armour all-star game.
Rivals lists Taylor as a three-star prospect while ESPN has tagged him with four stars and a national ranking of No. 123. ESPN tends to put more stock into intangible abilities while Rivals usually sticks to measurable talent. (Just my observation.)
A quick side note on Taylor: His high school coach at Atlanta Westlake is former Deerfield Beach and Fort Lauderdale Dillard coach Greg Minnis. Minnis is originally from Miami and is a cousin of Miami native Snoop Minnis of Florida State fame. ANYWAY, Taylor de-committed from Tennessee following the Lane Kiffin fiasco and the Vols' loss was the Gators' gain.
As it stands today, Florida's recruiting class is currently ranked No.1 by both ESPN and Rivals. ESPN recently released its final Top 150 list of national prospects and the Gators have 16 players on the list! Wily ol' Urban Meyer is stockpiling a mind-numbing amount of talent. By comparison, Texas is second on the ESPN Top 150 list with 13 commitments. Alabama is third with 10. Here are the total number of recruits listed on the ESPN Top 150 of Florida's traditional rivals: Georgia (8), Florida State (7), Tennessee (4) and Miami (3). Miami has apparently adopted a slightly different recruiting philosophy this year. I don't know what it is exactly, but it's noticeably different from years past.
Florida hopes to sign the Southeastern Conference maximum of 28 recruits on Feb.3. If all of Florida's 25 commitments hold pat, then only three spots remain. If one of Florida's recruits defects (say, maybe, Demar Dorsey of Lauderdale Lakes Boyd Anderson), then Florida will have four spots available on National Signing Day.
For the purposes of this blog post, we're going to assume that Dorsey de-commits and heads elsewhere (USC, for example). Some people will probably disagree with this logic, but I don't care. With four scholarships remaining, the Gators' coaching staff must be ultra-selective. These next few weeks are when Meyer can really put Florida's recruiting class atop Mount Olympus. He's supposed to be some kind of great "closer" when it comes to these types of things, so we'll see. Last year, Meyer watched in disgust as Nu'Keese Richardson signed with Tennessee and Greg Reid signed with Florida State. (Save your comments on Richardson, please.)
Here are the top seven recruits on Urban's wish list. Out of these seven, which four do you want to see in orange and blue?
1. Ivan McCartney, receiver, Miramar
Others involved: Miami, West Virginia
The Skinny: All things being equal, my gut tells me Urban would want this player above all others. McCartney is a dynamic receiver who recently helped Miramar win its first football state championship in school history. And, don't forget, Urban would love to pull this player away from the Canes. McCartney (6-1, 165 pounds) has been secretive about his recruiting but he does have a few friends up at West Virginia. Former Miramar quarterback Geno Smith is the Mountaineers' projected starter. Grades could be an issue here for both Florida and Miami.
2. Christian Green, receiver, Tampa Catholic
Others involved: Florida State, Georgia, Miami and South Florida
The Skinny: Christian Green (6-2, 190 pounds) visited Florida this weekend along with Tampa Catholic teammate Chaz Green. From what I could see, Florida assistant coach Dan McCarney was really focusing on the Greens during the UF men's basketball game on Saturday. Christian Green isn't as fast as McCartney but he is stronger.
3. Seantrel Henderson, offensive lineman, St. Paul, Minn.
Others involved: Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Southern Cal
The Skinny: OK, here's a guy who could trump all of the Gators' current recruits. Apparently, Henderson (6-8, 305 pounds) is that good. People are comparing him to Bryant McKinnie, if that tells you anything. He's been hush-hush about his recruiting, so where he ends up is anyone's guess.
4. Chaz Green, offensive lineman, Tampa Catholic
Other involved: USC
The Skinny: Green (6-6, 290 pounds) was injured throughout his senior year but that hasn't stopped the best programs in the country from shying away. He's rated as the fourth best offensive tackle in the nation, according to Rivals. He would be an excellent addition to any team's recruiting class. He has a big frame and long arms, according to the good folks over at Rivals. (I haven't had time to drive to Tampa and measure his arms.) Green still has a visit to USC and he's a big Kiffin fan.
5. Jordan Hicks, linebacker, West Chester, Ohio
Others involved: Texas, Ohio State
The Skinny: From everything I've read, Texas is the leader here. Apparently Hicks has a strong relationship with Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Still, there's an outside shot Florida could land this 6-2, 220 pound linebacker. Of course, didn't Florida sign a similar linebacker last year? Yep, Jelani Jenkins.
6. Christian Jones, linebacker, Winter Park Lake Howell
Other involved: Florida State
The Skinny: Christian Jones apparently visited Florida last weekend on his own dime, so that means he's pretty interested. This kid is a physical specimen (6-4, 220 pounds), and he apparently had a great time in Gainesville. He hit it off with UF's new defensive coordinator George Edwards. FSU remains the leader here, though. Jones' family ties to FSU are pretty strong. Of course, he might always pull a Matt Patchan.
7. Da'Rick Rogers, receiver, Calhoun, Ga.
Others involved: Georgia
The Skinny: Here's a wild card. Rogers is committed to Georgia but apparently his mother likes Florida coach Urban Meyer. Georgia's coaches have told him he'd be the next A.J. Green. Rogers is one of the best receivers in the nation and shining gem of Georgia's recruiting class. Gators fans would totally lose it if Rogers switched to Florida but I don't see it happening. Still, Rogers might visit Florida in the coming weeks.
If I had to pick the top four players on Urban's wish list, I'd go with McCartney, Rogers, Henderson and Jones. Never underestimate the importance of keeping talented players away from your rivals.