Gators add commit No. 9 in LB Rayshad Jackson

The second commitment of the Jim McElwain era made his intentions known on Sunday as three-star outside linebacker Rayshad Jackson (Miami, FL) pulled the trigger for the Florida Gators.

Jackson (6-foot-2, 215 pounds) was a target of new Gators linebackers coach Randy Shannon and a former lean to Arkansas, where Shannon coached before being hired by Florida.

The ninth member of the Gators’ pedestrian 2015 recruiting class, Jackson is also the ninth three-star prospect on Florida’s list.

His commitment was first reported by ESPN‘s Derek Tyson.

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The Silver Lining for Monday, January 19: Florida wide receiver coach search, Gators recruiting

Missing: Wide Receivers Coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain was methodical in filling out his initial staff, but a hole nevertheless remains with one assistant spot still yet to be filled as of press time.

Florida has not yet hired what will be its seventh wide receivers coach in as many seasons – seriously, seven in seven seasons – despite every other member on McElwain’s coaching staff not only being in the building but already having gone out on the road recruiting. Currently, the Gators are using director of player personnel Drew Hughes as their ninth recruiter with McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier paying extra-close attention to available wideouts.

So why exactly does Florida still have this position open and when will a hire be made?

Well, let’s just say the Gators are in no rush. A source close to the program told OnlyGators.com over the weekend that one reason why Florida has not filled the role is because a number of the coaches being considered for the position are currently in the NFL. Professional staffs have yet to fully shake out due to head coaching changes throughout the league and there are still head coach positions available.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Monday, January 19: Florida wide receiver coach search, Gators recruiting

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Florida Gators coaches confident that recruiting will come alive as dead period ends

With the dead period over, nine Florida Gators staff members hit the recruiting trail on Thursday to salvage the program’s 2015 class. Standing at just eight commitments with no four- or five-star pledges, Florida’s class has plenty of spots to fill – and the coaches have little time to get it done.

National Signing Day is set for Wednesday, Feb. 4, giving the Gators just three weeks to lock up 15-20 players. This is why it was imperative for Florida to bring on head coach Jim McElwain – and for McElwain, in turn, to get his coordinators hired – early in December so the program could get an early start on re-recruiting players.

According to McElwain, that foresight paid off.

“We’ve gotten great buzz, and yet, time will tell. Obviously the guys that we put in place have value to these recruits as they want to perfect their craft at their individual positions moving forward,” he said of his staff. “They’re good dudes, man. They’re a lot of fun to be around. They got energy and they care about kids and they care about being involved in young men’s lives, not just in football.”

Continue Reading » Florida Gators coaches confident that recruiting will come alive as dead period ends

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

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Former Gators commit, Stanford C Schuyler Rimmer, to transfer to Florida as walk-on

Updated on Jan. 7 at 10:20 a.m.

One-time Florida Gators 2013 commitment Schuyler Rimmer never wound up playing for the team out of high school, deciding six weeks after initially pledging to the program that he would reopen his recruitment.

It appears as if Rimmer has found a way to suit up for the Gators after all as he announced Sunday evening that he plans to transfer to Florida.

OnlyGators.com has confirmed that Rimmer will walk on to the UF basketball team, as first reported by ESPN.com‘s Jeff Borzello. He is expected to join the program in January as a mid-season transfer.

“So excited to continue my career at the University of Florida! It’s a great day to be a gator!” he wrote Sunday evening on his Twitter account.

Update: Rimmer was cleared to join the Gators during the first week of January and will be allowed to join practice on Thursday, Jan. 8.

Continue Reading » Former Gators commit, Stanford C Schuyler Rimmer, to transfer to Florida as walk-on

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Recruiting a huge priority for Florida’s McElwain

It is no secret that the Florida Gators have been out-recruited by in-state rival Florida State over the last few seasons. And as the end of the 2015 cycle approaches, it is obvious that the Gators have been out-recruited by the majority of teams in college football over the last year, a tide that new Florida head coach Jim McElwain was looking to turn before he even held his introductory press conference.

Due to a lack of overall success on the field, an inability to produce offensively and season-long instability at head coach, the Gators currently stand with just eight commitments for 2015, all of whom are three-star prospects and only half of which are from the state of Florida, one of the top recruiting hotbeds in the country.

That is where McElwain plans to begin his journey to turn the Gators into a recruiting powerhouse once again, perhaps as soon as National Signing Day in February.

“When you look from a historical standpoint, when Florida was really rolling, they controlled and had the majority of really good players out of [its home state]. First and foremost, we have to get back in and make sure we get the best out of that area as we build our team,” he told Tampa Bay’s WDAE 620 AM on Monday. “Obviously I’m a firm believer: we are the University of Florida, and it is Florida first – and then the rest of it is second. We’ve had to go back in, we’re reevaluating guys as we speak, making sure that we get the right fit, first and foremost with players from the state of Florida.”

Continue Reading » Recruiting a huge priority for Florida’s McElwain

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TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe commits to Florida

Three-star tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe (Suwanee, GA) on Tuesday announced his verbal commitment to the Florida Gators, becoming the first 2015 recruit to make a pledge to the program since Jim McElwain was hired as head coach.

“Thank you to all the people/coaches that have supported me and given me an opportunity to play at their schools….I’m extremely proud to announce that I will be attending The University of Florida!!!!! #GatorNationWhatUp,” he wrote in his announcement on Twitter.

Imatorbhebhe (6-foot-4, 220 pounds), who received an in-home visit from McElwain one week ago, took an official visit to California – his other finalist – over the weekend and came away with a decision made.

An early enrollee who is expected to be at Florida by Jan. 6, Imatorbhebhe will participate in spring practice. He is expected to be used by McElwain as a versatile H-back.

The former Missouri commitment is the eighth member of the Gators’ 2015 recruiting class, which lost a foursome of four-star pledges since Will Muschamp was fired in November. All of Florida’s commitments are three-star-rated prospects.

Daniel’s brother, Josh Imatorbhebhe, is a four-star 2016 wide receiver prospect ranked 130th in the nation by Rivals. He is currently trying to trim down an extensive offer list with the Gators believed to be among the top three programs he is considering.

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Florida loses four-star commits Brown, Jones

Florida Gators football’s already-depleted 2015 class became even worse off on Saturday when its top two commitments – four stars offensive lineman George Brown (Cincinnati, OH) and quarterback Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, CA) – decommitted from the program, according to 247Sports.com’s Ryan Bartow.

Respectively rated the No. 183 and No. 218 overall players in the nation by Rivals, Brown and Jones were Florida’s only remaining consensus four-star commitments. Their decommitments came on the same day UF head coach Jim McElwain held his introductory press conference, with Brown flipping to LSU.

In late October, the Gators lost a pair of four-star linebackers – Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH) and Adonis Thomas (Lawrenceville, GA) – in a three-day span. Baker was the No. 36 overall player in the country as rated by Rivals, and Thomas was ranked No. 68 overall by ESPN.

Florida’s recruiting class stood at 11 members in mid-October; the Gators have since lost their four highest-rated pledges and no longer have a single consensus four-star-rated prospect on their commitment list.

UF only has seven commitments with two months until National Signing Day. The Gators have the lowest-rated signing class of any team either in the Southeastern Conference or their own state.

In fact, Florida’s three biggest rivals – Florida State, Georgia and Tennessee – have the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 5-ranked recruiting classes, respectively, each with 20-26 commitments.

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