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3 posts from January 6, 2014

January 06, 2014

Gators hire Summers to lead offensive line

GAINESVILLE -- Florida no longer has any coaching vacancies.

The Gators completed their offensive overhaul, hiring Southern California offensive line coach Mike Summers to the same position, the school announced Monday.

"I'm excited to have Coach Summers join our staff," UF head coach Will Muschamp said in a statement. "He has 34 years of experience, has been an offensive coordinator for 15 years and has coached in the SEC. He has a diverse background and has experience in the NFL. He will be a great addition to our staff." 

Summers, 57, definitely brings a wealth of experience, with multiple stops in the SEC including a two-year stint at Kentucky (2010-12) working under former Wildcats head coach and current UF receivers assistant/recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips.

A graduate of UK, Summers was also a pivotal member of Bobby Petrino's staffs at Louisville, Arkansas and the Atlanta Falcons. Florida will serve as Summers' 11th stop in his lengthy coaching career.

"I'm honored to be joining Coach Muschamp and his staff," Summers said. "I have the utmost respect for Coach Muschamp, the staff and the support system in place. Having been in the SEC, I have always held the Florida program in high regard and I'm looking forward to getting right to work." 

Summers replaces Tim Davis, fired Dec. 1 after Florida’s offensive line surrendered a conference-high 66 sacks in two years despite operating in a run-oriented attack.

More on the hire to come… 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Powell goes pro

GAINESVILLE -- Former No. 1 overall recruit Ronald Powell opted to forgo his final year of eligibility at Florida and will enter the 2014 NFL Draft, the school announced Monday. 

"This hasn’t been an easy decision because this is a tough place to walk away from," Powell said in a release. "But really you never walk away from being a Gator. I never thought it would be this hard to make this decision -- most people think it’s easy -- go for the money. It’s hard to leave my brothers behind, but we’ve shared so much more than our time on the field. We’ve lived our lives together and we are truly a family. This place has so many memories that I will carry forever, and I will never forget my coaches, teammates, trainers, strength staff, professors and the entire support staff that helped me during my time here."

(Courtesy Tim Casey | GatorCountry.com)

Powell -- Urban Meyer's premier recruit in UF's lauded 2010 class -- never reached fans' lofty expectations, as the athletic pass rushing linebacker/defensive end struggled with injuries, maturity and consistency during his time at Florida.

The redshirt junior, who tore his ACL twice in 2012 and missed the entire year, was frequently praised by coach Will Muschamp this past season for his improved attitude, leadership and overall development. 

“Ronald has informed me that he has made a decision to declare for the NFL Draft,” Muschamp said in the statement. “This hasn’t been an easy decision for him. I talked to him several times over the Holidays, but it was important for him to come back and look me in the eye and tell me what he wanted to do and why he wanted to do it. It’s one of the great experiences as a coach to watch young players mature. It’s been well documented the hardships he has had to overcome and he has always kept a positive attitude."

Powell, a tweaner who projects as a stand-up linebacker at the next level, finished the 2013 season with 26 tackles, eight hurries, four sacks and seven tackles for loss as he constantly shifted between linebacker and end.

Powell was close to teammate Dominique Easley, a fellow 2010 hotshot prospect, who did not leave early last season and returned in 2013 only to tear his ACL before the fourth game of the year.  With two major surgeries already, a third knee injury could derail Powell’s career and likely influenced his decision to turn pro. 

“I want to thank the entire Gator Nation for making a kid from California a part of their family,” Powell said. “It’s hard to put into words what this whole experience has been for me. I’ve had so many opportunities and met so many people. All of them have been supportive and helpful in my time here. Because of that, I’ve had a chance to grow and mature into the man I am today and the man I am going to become in the future. …  

"I wouldn’t trade anything I’ve experienced because they have all helped me grow. I will miss running out of the tunnel into The Swamp and all of the tradition and great rivalries. It has been an honor to be a part of Gator history and I will always represent The Gator Nation and bleed Orange and Blue. Thanks again to everyone and much love for The Gator Nation. Once a Gator, Always a Gator! Go Gators!”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Where Things Stand: One Month to NSD

GAINESVILLE -- With all the high school showcases, all star games and combines complete, Florida looks to make a final surge on the recruiting circuit one month until National Signing Day. 

UF's 2014 class currently stands at 20 commitments -- with several recent additions plus one marquee decommitment. 

PLAYER

POS.

HT.

WT.

SCHOOL

STARS

Duke Dawson

DB

5’11”

195

Dixie County

****

J.C. Jackson

DB

5’10”

175

Immokalee

****

Chris Lammons

DB

5’9”

168

Plantation

****

Quincy Wilson

DB

6’2”

195

University Sch.

****

Justus Reed

DE

6’5”

235

Central Catholic

***

Khairi Clark

DT

6’2”

325

Chamindade

****

Dontae Angus

OL

6’6”

330

M L King (PA)

***

Tavern Bryan

OL

6’5”

250

Natrona (WY)

***

Nolan Kelleher

OL

6’6”

285

Wando (SC)

****

Travaris Dorsey

OL

6’3”

314

Raines

***

Gerald Willis

DE

6’4”

250

Edna Karr (LA)

****

Joseph Paul

OL

6’4”

340

St. Augustine (LA)

***

Will Grier

QB

6’2”

177

Davidson Day (NC)

****

Kavaris Harkless

OL

6’5”

270

Trinity Christian

***

C’yontai Lewis

TE

6’5”

212

Northridge (AL)

***

Deandre Goolsby

TE

6’4”

225

Derby (KS)

***

David Sharpe

OL

6’8”

275

Providence Sch.

****

Ryan Sousa

WR

6’0”

180

Lake Nona

***

Moral Stephens

TE

6’3”

205

Taylor County

****

Drew Sarvary

OL

6’7”

310

Tyler J.C. (TX)

***

Four-star tailback Dalvin Cook is (obviously) no longer listed on UF's board, as the electric Miami Central running back flipped to rival Florida State in a bizarrely presented "announcement" on ESPNU last Tuesday evening. Despite Gator chomping for cameras and fans during the Under Armour All-American practices all week, Cook finally decommited after months of rampant speculation. 

Cook's flip was a major blow to coach Will Muschamp's class, and the residual effects are likely to be felt for the next month. Cook's decommitment may result in a series of dominos damaging to UF's class. Ermon Lane (WR) and J.C. Jackson (CB/WR), two highly rated prospects close to Cook, are rumored to be a package deal and positioned to follow the playmaking tailback to FSU. While they currently remain pledged to UF, most recruiting experts do not expect either to maintain their verbal commitments.   

In lieu of Cook's flip, the Gators immediately turned their attention to Rivals100 tailback Jeff Jones, MVP of the Under Armour showcase. Jones, a Minneapolis native and talented running back, is currently committed to Minnesota but will take an official visit to UF on Jan. 24. 

The Under Armour game also delivered a surprise commitment for the Gators, as Florida poached four-star defensive end Gerald Willis III (Edna Karr, New Orleans) from LSU's backyard. The Gators also added another offensive line prospect, flipping three star tackle Kavaris Harkless from Louisville after former head coach Charlie Strong accepted the same position at Texas. 

Harkless, an early enrollee from Jacksonville's Trinity Christian, was actually already in Louisville to enroll before hearing the news of Strong's departure. According to Rivals, Harkless turned around and went home and is set to enroll at UF immediately. 

Harkless is one of seven early enrollees scheduled to report to campus this week. 

As for the rest of Florida's class, its remaining targets include Jones, four-star wideout Isaiah McKenzie, five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson, five-star linebacker/defensive end Lorenzo Carter, four-star defensive tackle Thomas Holley and a couple others. 

I'm sure it will be a wild month.

Stay tuned.   

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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