1 » At the conclusion of his National Signing Day press conference on Wednesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp told the Orlando Sentinel that sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will move to wide receiver during spring practice. Purifoy, who played sparingly at receiver during the 2012 season, is an athletic and versatile performer who was also Florida’s standout player on special teams last year. Whether or not his move to wide receiver is permanent remains to be seen, but Purifoy told the paper’s Edgar Thompson in early January that he enjoyed the time he was spending on offense during practice and games. “I feel like I’m in high school again,” he said. “I love it.” Muschamp and the Gators coaching staff have moved a number of players back-and-forth between offense and defense over the last two offseasons in order to improve position flexibility throughout the roster.
He also noted on Wednesday that UF has tried mightily to bridge the hole in its wide receiving corps and did that in part by signing five pass catchers. “When you say fill needs, you talk in terms of depth and talent. Those are the two things you’ve got to be able to address. I think we’ve taken a step forward in both situations. We’ve improved our depth, and I think we’ve improved our talent level. We’ve got some guys that can come in and compete,” Muschamp said. It will be interesting to see whether or not Purifoy sticks on offense or goes back to defense by the time summer practice begins.
2 » As National Signing Day wrapped up, news broke of Florida having an outstanding offer in the hands of in-state a three-star offensive lineman who was originally planning to continue his career as a basketball player at Division II Eckerd College. That player is Trevon Young (Bradenton, FL), someone who the Gators see as a potential playmaker at tight end given his size size (6’6″, 260 lbs.) and soft hands. Brown is currently debating between sticking with his first love (basketball) in a situation that is unlikely to result in him being a professional athlete down the line or playing his second-favorite sport at the highest level possible in college.
Curt Bradley, Young’s football coach at Branden River High School, told InsidetheGators.com on Wednesday that the player is legitimately conflicted with his decision. “It isn’t a matter of the school, it’s the sport he chooses,” Bradley said, further implying that he would easily choose UF over an offer from South Florida if Young decides to play football. A decision may be coming as soon as Thursday.
Read two more BITS from National Signing Day…after the break!
3 » Before entering his National Signing Day press conference, Muschamp spoke to the Florida school website about the concept of “closing” in recruiting and appeared to go on the defensive in regards to fans and reporters being critical of the fact that the Gators have not “closed” strong with multiple commitments on National Signing Day over the last two seasons. “People talk about closing – what’s the difference between closing in March and closing on Signing Day? Does it lessen the player’s value because you got him early,” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t buy into this idea of closing maybe as much other people do. You go out and you do your due diligence. It’s about building relationships and building trust. Maybe some of our guys weren’t into the glitz and glamour of signing day. We want blue-collar guys who are going to come in here with the right kind of character and integrity and do it the right way.”
Florida added a pair of defensive tackles but lost out on two Wednesday decisions from players that were at least once favored to wind up with the Gators – four-star wide receiver James Clark and five-star defensive back Jalen Ramsey. Last year, UF flipped five-star Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. on National Signing Day and took a chance on two-star wide receiver Raphael Andrades but was beaten out in a number of other recruiting battles for top-flight prospects.
4 » The departure of sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett left a hole in the Gators’ depth chart even though the school does have three-star QB Max Staver joining the program in the summer. Florida tried but was unsuccessful at adding a JUCO quarterback late in the recruiting process and now heads into the 2013 season with redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy as the No. 2 signal caller behind sophomore starter Jeff Driskel. Muschamp on Wednesday confirmed that he is concerned with UF’s depth at the position. “I don’t have a very high comfort level, obviously,” he said. “Those guys haven’t played a lot but they’re going to get opportunities this spring to continue to develop within what we do.”
Extra BIT » Muschamp also announced that four-star linebacker Matt Rolin (knee) has already been ruled out of spring practice. He underwent surgery in November 2012 while he was still a South Carolina commitment, but doctors are hopeful that he can work back and potentially be ready to practice at some point during the summer.