Gators pick up commitment from LB Kitchens

With 23 of the Florida Gators 25 verbal commitments either already enrolled at the University of Florida or having sent in their letters of intent (LOIs) by 10 a.m., the Orange and Blue looks was rolling toward a unanimous No. 1-ranking for its 2010 recruiting class. Three-star linebacker Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL) helped put the Gators over the top by becoming the team’s 26th commitment.

Kitchens, 6’3″ 215 lbs., led Miami-Dade County with 19 sacks last season. and was strongly considering the Texas Tech Red Raiders and Syracuse Orange. He would be the first of three new commitments that Florida would earn Wednesday.

OGGOA will update this story after the conclusion of National Signing Day.

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OGGOA’s LIVE National Signing Day coverage

Welcome to OGGOA. We will be offering LIVE coverage of the 2010 National Signing Day, all day from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. When a letter of intent (LOI) is signed or a new high school player commits to the Florida Gators, we will be there breaking the news.

Click the graphic below (or the one on the right) to join our coverage LIVE!

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TWO BITS: Ronald Powell’s transformation

1 » Headlining the Florida Gators’ 2010 recruiting class is five-star defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA). But if you asked family, teachers and coaches about Powell a few years ago, the last thing they would tell you is that he was capable of reaching such heights. A “lost and angry” young man who was “downright mean, a mess who didn’t seem to love much of anything,” Powell had a tough go of it through his parents divorce but turned his life around with the help of older teammates and Rancho Verde High School head coach Pete Duffy. Matt Winkeljohn, in a special to ESPN covers Powell’s turnaround from troubled youth to unanimously ranked No. 1 prospect.

2 » The Southeastern Conference announced Tuesday that Florida gymnast Ashanée Dickerson has been named the SEC Freshman Gymnast of the Week for the third consecutive time. Dickerson has compiled seven event titles so far in 2010, most on the team and tops by a Gators freshman since 1986. She is tied for third in the nation in the all-around event for season average 939.381) and holds No. 4 rankings in the vault (9.887) and floor (9.894).

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TWO BITS: Meyer to Cowboys? Kitchens’ struggle.

1 » One rumor that was circulating throughout the World Wide Web when Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer initially announced he would step down from his job was that the two-time BCS National Championship-winning coach would be heading to the NFL to replace head coach Wade Phillips of the Dallas Cowboys. The Orlando Sentinel‘s Jeremy Fowler caught up with four-star running back commit Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), who said that fallacy was perpetrated by rival recruiters. “They would say, he’s tricking ya’ll — he’s going to the NFL to coach the Dallas Cowboys,” Brown said. “I was like ‘What?’ There’s no way. I wasn’t too worried about it anyway, but coach Meyer told me he’s a Gator. He’s coming back.”

2 » Three-star linebacker recruit Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL), who is currently uncommitted but deciding between the Gators and Texas Tech Red Raiders on Wednesday morning, has “survived the struggles in Homestead and still achieved [his] dreams,” his head coach Bobby McCray, Sr. (father of the New Orleans Saints defensive end and former Florida player) told The Miami Herald. Kitchens has used his strong work ethic and immense passion to propel him to a 3.0 grade point average and a Miami-Dade County-high 19 sacks his senior season.

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TWO BITS: Tebow’s ad, McCartney’s decision

1 » Along with his mechanics and future as an NFL quarterback, former Florida Gators star Tim Tebow and his decision-making have come into question over recent weeks in regard to his Focus on the Family advertisement which will run during Super Bowl XLIV. Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist with the Washington Post, believes the problem is not with the message of Tebow’s ad but rather those criticizing it. Jenkins, who Is pro-choice, writes: “As statements at Super Bowls go, I prefer the idea of Tebow’s pro-life ad to, say, Jim McMahon dropping his pants. […] We’re always harping on athletes to be more responsible and engaged in the issues of their day, and less concerned with just cashing checks. It therefore seems more than a little hypocritical to insist on it only if it means criticizing sneaker companies, and to stifle them when they take a stance that might make us uncomfortable.”

2 » Four-star wide receiver recruit Ivan McCartney (Miramar, FL) has yet to declare where he intends to play college football in 2010. For a while, he has been down to the Gators, Miami Hurricanes and West Virginia Mountaineers. Though four-star defensive end commit Lynden Trail (Miami, FL) has tried to convince him to join Florida’s class, McCartney is believed to be heading elsewhere. However, he did give this sterling quote about his experience with the Gators to the Miami Herald: “There’s something about Florida I don’t feel for the other schools, a very strong, loving feeling. The atmosphere is wild. The campus is outrageous. They have swagger, too. And it’s an awesome place, no matter who is coaching there.”

Extra Bit » Good stuff from The Gainesville Sun on Florida senior swimmers and two-time Olympians Omar Pinzon and Shaune Fraser, who are looking to leave a mark.

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Hicks spurns Gators, Buckeyes for Longhorns

With National Signing Day approaching on Feb. 3, five-star linebacker recruit Jordan Hicks (West Chester, OH) decided to end the speculation and announce his college commitment a few days early in front of friends and family. Hicks took the Florida Gators, Ohio State Buckeyes and Texas Longhorns down to the wire as his three finalists but ultimately declared that he would play college football in Austin, TX, beginning next season.

Unanimously considered the top LB in the nation, Hicks is ranked No. 4 overall on the ESPNU 150 and No. 16 on the Rivals100. The Gators will now focus on gaining a commitment from five-star LB Christian Jones (Winter Park, FL).

Photo Credit: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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Ten recruits to watch on National Signing Day

National Signing Day is approaching on Feb. 3, and the Florida Gators are looking to add to their consensus No. 1-ranked 2010 recruiting class. Seeing as high school football players across the country will begin making declarations as early as Friday afternoon, OGGOA has put together a comprehensive preview of the recruits the Gators are still attempting to gain commitments from. The top 10 players who Florida is after are listed below along with a short prediction at the end.

OT Seantrel Henderson (St. Paul, MN)
Rivals: No. 2 – ESPNU: No. 8
Also considering: Ohio State, Southern California, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Miami (FL)

His high school is a pipeline to Notre Dame, his last visit is to Miami, he’s been (reportedly) favoring Ohio State for quite some time, he’s from Minnesota and USC has been in his ear lately making a big push. Florida is considered a long-shot to land Henderson, one of the top overall recruits in the country and the consensus No. 1 offensive lineman.

Learn about the other nine recruits who you should keep an eye on after the jump!
Continue Reading » Ten recruits to watch on National Signing Day

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SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

1 » Former Florida Gators forward/center Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks has been named as a participant in the 2010 NBA All-Star Game. Though OGGOA is quite pleased with Horford’s accomplishment, we would be remiss if we did not speak out for fellow former Gators F/C David Lee. Lee, who has played with the New York Knicks his entire career, was snubbed by voters after averaging an impressive 19.4 points per game and 11.4 rebounds per game thus far. To his credit, Horford is averaging 13.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game.

2 » The following commits to Florida’s 2010 recruiting class have been named PARADE All-Americans: five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, five-star safety Matt Elam and four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw.

3 » One aside from the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl is that players from the Gators and the Alabama Crimson Tide are playing together on the South team – and they’re having a good time doing it. “We’re getting along really well,” former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. “They’re good guys. We’ve had fun, trash-talking back and forth and giving each other a hard time. It’s been a lot of fun. When we break down (after a play), they say, ‘Go Alabama.’ They’ve been trying to get me to say that, but I haven’t yet. It’s been fun.”

Three more BITS including a Florida Gators bobsledder after the jump!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: All-Star, PARADE, Donovan, bobsled

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