Recruiting contributor Zach Abolverdi in his first submission to OGGOA…
Now that football recruiting for the 2010 term is in the books and Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has assembled one of the best classes of all-time, OGGOA brings you a look ahead to the Gators’ (in our opinion) top 20 targets for 2011. These are prospects that the coaching staff has already targeted and is pursuing the hardest as of press time. Perhaps even more important, the 20 targets listed below have a mutually high level of interest in Florida. [Preliminary star ratings provided by Scout.com.]
1. DT Tim Jernigan (Lake City, FL) – 6’2” 275 lbs.
Nicknamed “Hercules” for his superior size and strength, Jernigan also runs a remarkable 4.6 in the forty yard dash. He received his very first scholarship offer from Florida as a ninth grader and has visited on several occasions including this past summer when he dominated at the Urban Meyer Football Camp. In an interview with The Gainesville Sun following National Signing Day, Jernigan revealed that if he had to sign his letter of intent now, the Gators would be the recipient of his highly sought after signature.
2. ATH James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) – 6’2” 223 lbs.
Rivals’ “Junior of the Year,” Wilder, Jr. is the 2011 version of Ronald Powell with the athletic ability to play running back, linebacker and defensive end at the next level. He favors the Miami Hurricanes at the moment because they are recruiting him at running back, the position his father played in the NFL and his position of choice. However, most recruiting analysts project Wilder as an outside linebacker, and Florida is his leader if he chooses to play on defense in college.
Check out 18 more 2011 recruits the Florida Gators are targeting after the jump!
3. QB Christian Lemay (Matthews, NC) – 6’3” 200 lbs.
Lemay is an extremely efficient passer and has 4.6 speed to compliment an impressive arm. He is very familiar with the Gators’ program and coaches because his father, Pastor Stacey Lemay, was the team chaplain in 2005. Christian also worked with Florida QB coach Scot Loeffler at summer camp, improving his mechanics and fundamentals. Meyer and Co. would love to bring this gun slinger back to Gainesville for good next February.
4. RB Mike Bellamy (Punta Gorda, FL) – 5’10” 175 lbs.
Clocking in at 4.4 in the forty yard dash, Bellamy has top-end speed that helped him become a 200-meter sprint champion in the state of Florida. He was one of the top junior prospects at the Under Armour Combine in January, and put on show at Florida’s Friday Night Lights. On his Facebook page, Bellamy states that he is going to play for the Gators on a full ride for football. Take that for what it is worth.
5. WR Sammy Watkins (Fort Myers, FL) – 6’1” 180 lbs.
Watkins has great hands and tremendous speed with the potential to grow into a big receiver that will make plays on both the inside and outside. He is very high on Florida and was on hand for Friday Night Lights and the 2009 conference opener against Tennessee. WR coach Zach Azzanni will try and make sure Watkins follows in the footsteps of his older brother and 2010 four-star DB commitment Jaylen Watkins.
6. DE Curt Maggitt (West Palm Beach, FL) – 6’3” 205 lbs.
Maggitt is a bit small weight-wise, but his speed and agility make him one of top pass-rushers in the state of Florida. He has a strong relationship with defensive line coach Dan McCarney, which was developed during summer camps and unofficial visits. Combine that with the potential influences of his former Dwyer High School teammates who committed to the Gators (Matt Elam, Gerald Christian, Robert Clark) in 2010, and Maggitt looks to be all Orange and Blue.
7. ATH Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) – 6’3” 180 lbs.
Bridgewater uses both his arm and his feet to make plays on the field. He visited Gainesville for the Tennessee game and Friday Night Lights, where he had a spectacular showing working out at receiver. Although he favors Georgia early, Bridgewater grew up a Gators fan and dreamed of playing wideout at UF. If the coaching staff has anything to say about that, his dream will come true.
8. CB Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) – 5’10” 168 lbs.
One of the top corners at every event he has competed in, Waisome’s light shined bright at Florida’s summer camp and Friday Night Lights. The Gators led early and then lost some ground with the departure of former CB coach Vance Bedford. But make no mistake, Meyer has time and with the South Lake High School pipeline of Jeff Demps and Jonotthan Harrison on his side, there remains a good chance that this elite prospect lands in The Swamp.
9. WR Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) – 6’6” 215 lbs.
Benjamin is a physical freak; possessing the leaping ability to win any jump ball and the athleticism to be elusive in the open field. He has already visited Gainesville for Friday Night Lights as well as the Tennessee and FSU games and will be on hand for the Gators’ Junior Day on Feb. 13.
10. OT Christian Westerman (Chandler, AZ) – 6’5” 288 lbs.
Arguably the top offensive linemanof the 2011 class, Westerman has been under the watchful eye of many top programs in the country, including Florida. He had a high level of interest in the Gators last spring, but at the moment there does not seem to be a definitive leader for his services. If Westerman travels for an official visit next season, it will pay dividends for the coaching staff.
11. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins (Gig Harbor, WA) – 6’7” 250 lbs.
Seferian-Jenkins has been on every major program’s radar for years because of his unique skill set and big body frame. The Gators have a great shot at landing him because of the relationship he has with TE coach Brian White. White was at Washington when Austin received his first scholarship offer, and the strong bond that they forged could very well win him over in the end.
12. QB Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) – 6’3” 225 lbs.
Actually being compared to Tim Tebow by some scouts, Driskel has all the qualities needed to excel in Florida’s spread offense. He received a scholarship offer shortly before his standout performance at the Under Armour Combine. Driskel has visited Gainesville many times and is really intrigued at the possibility of working with Scott Loeffler and suiting up for the Gators.
13. S Wayne Lyons (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – 6’0” 190 lbs.
Lyons has fantastic cover skills, breaks to the ball extremely well and is also stout against the run. He was very successful at the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio and at Friday Night Lights this past summer. Lyons even visited when the Gators hosted the Volunteers. He has a family full of Florida fans, and his sister currently attends UF. Don’t be surprised if he carries on tradition next year.
14. DE Brandon Fulse (Fort Meade, FL) – 6’5” 247 lbs.
Fulse is a two-way lineman who has shown plenty of versatility at the U.S. Army Combine and Friday Night Lights. The Gators are in good hands with Fulse, who is currently being coached by former Florida receiver Jemalle Cornelius. He has unofficially visited twice and enjoyed the environment that he experienced in The Swamp.
15. DT Lonnie Gosha (Lake Butler, FL) – 6’3” 260 lbs.
A force for Union County High School between the hedges, Gosha’s stock will certainly rise as the year progresses. He had a productive performance at Friday Night Lights and attended almost every home game last season. It could be only matter of time before Gosha pledges to Florida.
16. WR Charon Peake (Roebuck, SC) – 6’3” 185 lbs.
Peake is a prominent pass catcher who has the speed to burn SEC secondaries. He favors the spread offense, so he is very comfortable with the system and coaching staff in Gainesville. Florida and Clemson are his front runners, and the Gators have snagged recruits out of South Carolina before.
17. TE Nick O’Leary (West Palm Beach, FL) – 6’3” 215 lbs.
O’Leary reminds many of Aaron Hernandez with his pass-catching skills and blocking ability. He was on campus for Friday Night Lights and has also visited unofficially. Meyer hopes to tap into his Dwyer pipeline yet again and land hall of fame golfer Jack Nicklaus’ talented grandson.
18. OT Bobby Hart (Fort Lauderdale, FL) – 6’4” 285 lbs.
Only 15 years old, Hart has incredible upside for his age. He came up big at the U.S. Army Combine and was in town for Friday Night Lights and Florida’s two rivalry games against Tennessee and Florida State. The coaching staff has had previous success out of St. Thomas Aquinas with Marcus Gilbert, Major Wright and Cody Riggs; it hopes that trend continues this year with Hart.
19. LB James Vaughters (Tucker, GA) – 6’3” 233 lbs.
Vaughters has the athleticism and discipline to play all three linebacker positions. He participated in Friday Night Lights and visited for the Tennessee and Arkansas games. Although he will be hard to steal from the Peach State, the fact that Vaughters is showing a high level of interest is a positive sign for the Gators.
20. DE LaMichael Fanning (Auburn, AL) – 6’6” 285 lbs.
Fanning is a physical specimen and has scouts across the country drooling over his potential. He was one of the most impressive prospects at Friday Night Lights and is definitely getting the attention of the coaching staff. The Gators might be able to steal another prospect from the state of Alabama (like they did with Solomon Patton in 2010) if they can bring him to town for an official visit.
EDITOR’S NOTE 2/4/11: We have noticed a large number of visitors have been reading this article since the 2011 National Signing Day concluded. The 20 recruits listed above were an informed projection by a contributor to our site. Recruiting charts/lists change drastically over the course of 12 months due to the interests of both the team and recruits changing over time. Who the Gators may have been considering in Feb. 2010 could be drastically different from who they were pursuing in July 2010, for example. Noting that Florida only received a commitment from “one of 20 recruits on their list” is an erroneous and inaccurate statement. That being said, the Gators did only receive a commitment from one of the 20 recruits on the above list. Thanks for reading!