2012 recruit Latroy Pittman ready to commit?

His junior year of high school has yet to begin, but one of the top wide receivers in the state of Florida for the 2012 recruiting session may already be willing and able to pull the trigger for the Florida Gators.

According to the Ocala Star-Banner, Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) visited the University of Florida last week for a football camp, received a scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer and is ready to speak to his family about committing to the Gators.

“[Getting an offer] was exciting. Something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Pittman told the paper. “We set up a date after July 4th to sit down and talk about it again. […] I believe [I will commit] over the summer when my mom and dad go back with me. Growing up around the Gators – I always knew I wanted to play in the orange and blue.”

Pittman, who has also received verbal offers from Alabama, Florida State and Georgia (among others), told Rivals he is “about 80 percent” sure and hopes to play at Florida because “it’s been my dream to play there since I was three.”

“I’m really leaning toward [committing],” he added.

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TWO BITS: Young, Gardner, eye black, Henderson

1 » Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) is drawing rave reviews from coaches and fellow players as he works with the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team in preparation for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-30. “He’s playing really, really well,” team assistant and Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt told ESPN‘s Andy Katz earlier this week. “He’s making plays, rebounding and running the floor well. Offensively, he’s looking good. He gives tremendous effort every time – great effort –and he’ll help Florida even if he doesn’t score a ton of buckets. He’s going to help them. He’ll defend, set screens and do all those things without scoring points.”

2 » After a career including 13 NCAA Tournament berths coming as a player, graduate assistant and coach, Gators women’s basketball assistant Susie Gardner is expected to be named the head coach of the Mercer Bears at a 3 p.m. press conference Thursday. Gardner, who has spent the last three seasons with Florida, has been in the Southeastern Conference for 13 years of her 24-year coaching career including stints as head coach at Arkansas and as an assistant and player at Georgia.

3 » With the statues of former Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winners Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier going up outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium next year, fans have been asking one relatively interesting question: Will Tebow’s statue feature a signature eye black message? The Gainesville Sun attempted to get this question definitively answered but found a non-committal response instead. The statue’s artist, W. Stanley “Sandy” Proctor, has already completed Tebow’s statue – which includes blank eye black. However, his business manager said that he would be happy to add a message if the University of Florida requested it. Associate athletics director Chip Howard was a bit more clear, saying he was “not sure if [a message] will show up well so you can read [it], but we continue to work on the statue […] to make [it] as real as possible.”

4 » Five-star offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson (Minneapolis, MN), the top recruit in the country in 2010 who committed to the USC Trojans on National Signing Day, is apparently mulling his future with the team, according to reports. Henderson, who chose USC over Miami, Ohio State, Florida and Minnesota, was allegedly promised by Kiffin that the Trojans would not suffer any major sanctions from the NCAA. USC coaches (including Kiffin) flew out in a private jet to visit Henderson last week with hopes to keep his commitment, but he recently told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he didn’t “want to talk about that,” when asked whether or not he was remaining with the program.

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FOUR BITS: Watch lists, honors, Saunders, WWE

1 » Preseason watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (nation’s top defensive player) and the Outland Trophy (nation’s top interior lineman) were released by the Football Writers Association of America on Monday, and four Florida Gators football players made the respective lists. Junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (Nagurski), senior center Mike Pouncey (Outland), redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson (Outland) and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Outland) are just a few players initially being considered for the awards.

2 » Former Florida All-American linebacker Scot Brantley, the uncle of redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, was honored by the Tampa Gator Club at their 16th annual scholarship dinner on Tuesday. Head basketball coach Billy Donovan was the guest speaker at the event.

3 » Gators four-star athlete De’Ante “Pop” Saunders did not waver much when initially deciding to commit to the team. Now, months later, he remains just as solid and is happy that the recruiting process is not annoying him like it is some of his friends. “My phone doesn’t ring at all,” Saunders told the Orlando Sentinel’s Andrew Carter. “It’s perfect. Because I see other guys that don’t know where they’re going when it’s about time to sign. Like last year, I had a few friends that didn’t know where they were going but it’s good for me since I already knew.”

4 » Former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard (ring name Titus O’Neil) continued his mission to become World Wrestling Entertainment’s next breakout star on Tuesday by making his third appearance on WWE NXT on SyFy. O’Neil, whose background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida is played up heavily by the producers/announcers, does a Gator Chomp when at the top of the entrance rap and is quite powerful in the ring. Even his assigned professional mentor, Zack Ryder, sported the orange and blue on Tuesday, though it did not help O’Neil who lost his second-straight match. OGGOA will follow along with Bullard’s journey over the next few months as he attempts to “win” a full-time contract and pay-per-view title match.

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Gators grab commitment from four-star LB Shazier

Just hours after three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) accepted his scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer, four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) decided to join the Florida Gators as the newest member of the team’s 2011 recruiting class.

One of the country’s top-ranked linebackers, Shazier received offers from more than three dozen schools including almost every major program in the country (Alabama, Ohio State, etc.) but decided to give his commitment to Florida in the end.

“Me, my mom and dad and my little brother went up to Florida to visit and we loved it,” Shazier told The Gainesville Sun. “We had a great time there. We felt that it was the best place for me for what I want to do academically and athletically. For me and my family (Florida) is where my heart is at and that’s the best place for me.”

At approximately 6’3” and 200 lbs. with a 4.5 40-yard dash, Shazier recorded 90 tackles and 19 sacks for Plantation High School as a junior in 2009. He is listed as the No. 71 overall recruit by ESPNU (No. 8 LB) and No. 165 overall by Rivals (No. 9 LB).

“I just committed today,” Shazier told Scout.com (subscription required). “Coach Meyer was real happy and said they are going to love to coach me. Today’s visit was great and my family loved it they are all on board and 100% Gators. I talked to Coach Durkin for a long time and he told me it made his day and he loved it. Coach Durkin was telling me he can’t wait to see me in a Gator uniform. My whole entire family is just happy we are Gators and I am done with recruiting.”

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas/ESPN

OGGOA RELATED: Three-star OL Tommy Jordan chooses the Gators

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Three-star OL Tommy Jordan chooses the Gators

The Florida Gators nabbed another commitment stemming from their camp last week as three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) called head coach Urban Meyer and accepted a scholarship Monday morning, according to The Ridgefield Press.

“I pretty much knew what I needed to know about all the schools I was considering and I knew Florida’s the place I wanted to go,” Jordan told Rivals. “There’s no one better right now. The coaching staff is a great group of guys I would be honored to play for. This is just a great opportunity, it’s too good for me to pass up. I’m happy to get on board.”

Jordan is just another in the long line of recruits the Gators have pulled from the state of Connecticut since offensive coordinator Steve Addazio joined the program. A native of the state, he also helped Florida acquire New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed and freshman quarterback Tyler Murphy.

“Tommy visited Florida again this weekend and came back convinced that it was the school he wanted to attend,” Ridgefield High School head coach Kevin Callahan told the Press. “He’s always been a Florida fan, so it’s really exciting for him to be going there.”

One of the top players in the state, Jordan was not offered a scholarship by Connecticut; he chose Florida over Boston College and Rutgers, among other schools.

OGGOA RELATED: Gators grab commitment from four-star LB Shazier

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FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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Gators’ newest ballers pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida Gators basketball has begun meetings for the 2010-11 season, it was time for the team’s newest members to choose theirs. Below is the list, according to the University of Florida:

» No. 4 – Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL), four-star freshman power forward
» No. 24 – Casey Prather (Jackson, TN), four-star freshman forward
» No. 3 – Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), four-star redshirt sophomore transfer guard
» No. 34 – Cody Larson (Sioux Falls, SD), three-star freshman power forward
» No. 15 – Will Yeguete (Melbourne, FL), three-star freshman power forward
» No. 5 – Scottie Wilbekin (Gainesville, FL), three-star freshman point guard

Rosario is ineligible for the 2010-11 season due to NCAA transfer rules; he will begin competing as a redshirt junior in 2011-12.

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FB Joyer becomes Gators’ sixth 2011 commit

Holding camp this week for some of the top high school players in the country and throughout the state of Florida, the Florida Gators were greeted with some great news shortly after one of their early week attendees returned home.

According to numerous sources, three-star fullback Hunter Joyer (Tampa, FL) committed to the Gators immediately after receiving a scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer once his time at the camp concluded.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Florida Gator,” Joyer told The Gainesville Sun. “I was just waiting for an opportunity. It was kind of unexpected and I was surprised [that Florida offered], but it was one of the best feelings I’ve had in my life.”

Joyer, who impressed coaches throughout the camp with his combination of size, speed and blocking ability, is listed as the No. 1 fullback in the country by Rivals. While in Gainesville, FL, he drew a lot of attention from coaches by proving his blocking prowess and ability to catch balls out of the backfield.

“It’s so close to home, it’s a great school and a great (football) program,” Joyer told The Tampa Tribune. “It’s just an all-around elite school and I feel like it’s hard to go wrong when you choose to go there.”

In addition to competing with the football team, he hopes to join UF’s track and field program to continue his success in shot put (after all, he is a state champion). Joyer also runs between a 4.5 and 4.6 in the 40-yard dash.

Photo Credit: The Tampa Tribune

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