Florida Gators grab No. 1 spot on Rivals’ Top 10 recruiting classes since 2002

Celebrating a decade of presenting high school recruiting rankings, Rivals.com released a special feature on Tuesday detailing the 10 best recruiting classes since 2002. The Florida Gators, under former head coach Urban Meyer, earned two spots on the list including the No. 1 overall ranking.

Florida’s 2006 recruiting class, which featured five-stars quarterback Tim Tebow, wide receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Brandon Spikes, came away as the clear leader even after being ranked as the second-best class that year.

“What makes this group stand out above the rest was the number of prospects who panned out: 16 members of the class were starters at one time,” writes Rivals. “Beyond Tebow and Harvin, there were guys such as LBs Brandon Spikes, Dustin Doe and A.J. Jones, DE Jermaine Cunningham, T/G Marcus Gilbert, DTs Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders and WR Riley Cooper. The group helped Florida win two national championships, and Tebow won the 2007 Heisman as a sophomore and was a finalist as a junior and senior.”

Two of those players (Tebow and Harvin) wound up being first-round picks in the NFL Draft; three more (Spikes, Cunningham and Gilbert) were selected in the second-round and one other (Cooper) was a fifth-round pick. Other prominent names in the 2006 class include kick returner Brandon James and offensive lineman Carl Johnson.

The Gators’ 2007 recruiting class, ranked No. 1 the year it was signed, closes out the list at No. 10. One of the reasons it is lower on the list is the fact that three of its most prominent members – five-stars quarterback Cameron Newton and defensive tackle Torrey Davis as well as four-star DT John Brown – had off-the-field issues that did not allow them to conclude their careers in Gainesville, FL.

However, Florida’s 2007 signings also included a trio of first-round picks (cornerback Joe Haden and centers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey), safeties Ahmad Black and Major Wright, DE Carlos Dunlap, tight end Aaron Hernandez and punter Chas Henry. Players remaining on the Gators include redshirt seniors QB John Brantley, DT Jaye Howard, running back Chris Rainey and WR Deonte Thompson.

Check out Rivals at 10: Ten best recruiting classes for the rest of the rankings.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

11/24: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (for the final time this season). Below are some notes from the event:

INJURY UPDATES

Meyer touched on the status of a number of players dealing with injuries. He said both cornerbacks – junior Janoris Jenkins (concussion) and redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown (hamstring) – should be good to go Saturday, as will redshirt senior linebacker A.J. Jones (hamstring). However, Meyer called redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) questionable for the game after he tweaked his injury during warm-ups before the Appalachian State game.

He also confirmed that senior center Mike Pouncey left practice early Tuesday due to lightheadedness but said he is perfectly fine. Meyer added that redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) has had successful wrist surgery and is in line to return to action in the spring after missing the entire season.

HAMMOND DOING THE RIGHT THINGS

After having his scholarship pulled over the summer due to an arrest for driving under the influence, redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. is in line to earn it back even though Meyer said Wednesday that his status remains “undetermined.” According to Meyer, Hammond is currently being evaluated on the selflessness he shows the team, how he is performing academically and his ability to stay out of trouble and be a good citizen off the field. He has been the Gators’ best pass catcher over the last few games and is starting to exhibit the talent that the coaches always believed he possessed.

QUOTES

On redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson’s issues this year: “Similar problems. I have seen him progress, may not at the pace he’d like to, but he’s a hard working guy and he’ll get better and better.”

On playing in Tallahassee, FL: “We got to really play well down there. We got so many young players playing in that environment.”

On Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton’s play at Florida: “Oh yeah, he was a great player. Just a ridiculous athlete.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

11/10: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

OGGOA had the opportunity to participate in Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer’s Southeastern Conference teleconference on Wednesday (we will be doing so every week). Below are some notes from the event:

GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH SPURRIER

Upon taking the Florida job, Meyer told anyone who would listen that one of the main reasons he did so was because he loved watching head coach Steve Spurrier‘s teams in the 1990s and had great respect for the Gators. Asked Wednesday how Spurrier’s continued prescence on the campus affects him, Meyer explained the two have become quite close since he arrived in Gainesville, FL.

“We’re fairly good friends now. Him and his wife and my wife and myself, we’re good friends. I actually lean on him quite a bit about the University of Florida when we get together,” he said. “He was Florida. He’s the reason I came here. I had such admiration for the way his teams played.”

RECRUITING ANOTHER DROP-BACK QUARTERBACK

Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley has always been more of a drop-back, pro-style passer. This was known the day he was recruited and every day since. Meyer addressed whether or not he would recruit a similar player again or if he would instead simply find guys who fit his system a bit better.

“We’ve played a multitude of different styles of offense really since I’ve been a head coach. It’s all about the personnel,” he said. “To be a drop-back quarterback, you really need a 220 lb. [running] back to hand off too. You also need a very stout and experienced tight end, which [we don’t have]. We’re going to continue recruiting the best players we can get our hands on and adapt to that. […] If we do [recruit another drop-back QB], we just have to make sure we have the pieces around him to give that guy a chance.”

ADDRESSING NEWTON QUESTIONS ONE LAST TIME

Meyer began Wednesday’s media availability with a short statement aimed to prompt against any more questions regarding Auburn Tigers QB Cameron Newton.

“I addressed recent news stories yesterday that our [sports information director]made me aware of in the early afternoon,” he said. “Those stories have absolutely nothing to do with our team and preparation for South Carolina. Our entire focus is and will always be on our team. I will say, however, that I was very supportive of Cam when he left here and Cam and his family know that and we wish him all the best.”

Asked later if he felt a statement on the Newton allegations was necessary, Meyer replied, “I didn’t. My SID thought it was important. I didn’t want to do it to be honest with you. Whatever they tell me to do, I’ll do.”

MEYER & SPURRIER QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 11/10: Florida coach Meyer’s SEC teleconference

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Report: Newton, father wanted “pay-for-play plan”

One week after ESPN reported that Cecil Newton, father of Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton, allegedly requested money for his son’s college commitment through a third party and one day after FOX Sports reported that the son was caught cheating three times while attending the University of Florida, sources told ESPN’s Joe Schad that the Newtons each “admitted in separate phone conversations to a pay-for-play plan while Newton was being recruited late last year.”

According to Schad’s sources, a Mississippi State Bulldogs recruiter was told by Cecil Newton that his son would only join the program if he received “more than a scholarship” for his services. The recruiter was then pointed to a third party who the father said could provide further details. The school failed to comply and Cameron Newton ended up at Auburn because, as the player supposedly explained another recruiter with great emotion, “the money was too much” for his dad to allow him to go to Mississippi State.

The alleged compliance offenses were related to the Southeastern Conference by Mississippi State in January, Schad reports.

The Newtons have previously denied all allegations of requesting or accepting money but refused to entertain the questions surrounding any cheating at Florida. “I’m not going to sit up here and say anything about it, whether I did or did not do it, because I don’t want to beat a dead horse talking about it,” Cameron Newton said in a press conference Tuesday. “It’s not going to affect me in any way, shape or fashion.”

The player has previously admitted that attending Auburn was his father’s choice as he had originally desired to play for former Florida Gators offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, now the Bulldogs’ head coach.

OGGOA RELATED: Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info | Report: Newton’s cheating at UF led to transfer

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tags: , , , , ,

Meyer denies allegations of leaking Newton info

When ESPN reported last week that a man claiming to represent Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton asked the Mississippi State Bulldogs for $180,000 for his signature on a letter of intent during his recruitment from Blinn College, some media members and college football fans found a way to finger Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer as the main reason for the information being leaked to the media.

A full week has passed and FOX Sports, in an unrelated report, claims Newton left Florida at least partially due to being caught cheating in class on three occasions. Similar to last week’s reaction, some members of the media and plenty of fans have once again pounced on Meyer, claiming he provided the information sourced in the story.

Early Tuesday, Meyer emphatically denied through a University of Florida statement having any involvement. “Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina,” he said. “For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn’t know us very well. It’s a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”

Meyer also spoke with Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun about the both allegations. “Obviously it’s a joke,” Meyer said. “I don’t know anything about anything. I heard they’ve got me meeting with the agent and all that. I never met with anybody. It’s ridiculous.”

Unconfirmed Internet reports stated Meyer was a part of a conference call with Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen and former MSU QB John Bond and advised both men to speak with the the media about the alleged illegal recruitment of Newton.

The contention from some media members is that Meyer is angered at the success Newton has achieved since leaving Florida and is looking to bring him down. The coach denies that philosophy as well.

“We had a great relationship right until the time he left,” Meyer told the Sun. “Cam and I and his family always had a great relationship. I don’t know where this is all coming from, but it didn’t come from me. I know nothing about nothing.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Report: Newton’s cheating at UF led to transfer

The departure of now-Auburn Tigers quarterback Cameron Newton from the University of Florida in the spring of 2009 has always been somewhat of a mystery with different sides relaying their own version of the events. Did Newton decide to transfer because Heisman Trophy winning QB Tim Tebow returned for his senior season (as his family contends), because Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer chose QB John Brantley as Tebow’s heir apparent, or was he dismissed due to complications surrounding the theft of a laptop in Nov. 2008?

A report Tuesday from Thayer Evans of FOX Sports sheds light on the decision, revealing that Newton “had three different instances of academic cheating” at UF and even “faced potential expulsion from the university.”

A source told Evans that Newton cheated during a class his freshman year, turned in another student’s work after writing his name on it in the fall of 2008, and then purchased a paper off the Internet which he submitted as a replacement to the same professor who caught him for the previous indiscretion. The latter two occurrences of cheating allegedly came after Newton had been arrested for theft of the laptop.

“Newton was to appear for a hearing in front of Florida’s Student Conduct Committee during the spring semester of 2009, but instead transferred to Blinn College,” reports Evans. “The committee could have levied sanctions against Newton that included suspension and expulsion from the university.”

Less than a week ago, ESPN reported that Kenny Rogers, a man claiming to represent the Newton family, sought $180,000 from Mississippi State in exchange for Newton’s college commitment as he reentered Division I athletics after playing his transfer season at Blinn College. The NCAA has been looking into the allegations, brought to light by former MSU QB John Bond, since July.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

10/25: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Head coach Urban Meyer and a small group of players meet with the media each Monday before the Florida Gators compete in a game the following Saturday. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important notes and quotes from the event this week.

FOUR AREAS OF CONCERN BEING ADDRESSED

Like last week, Meyer made mention of four particular areas in which Florida is struggling and needs drastic improvement in order to turn around their season. Specifically, he said the Gators must hold onto the ball (high turnover rate), return to making big plays (only four from the running game this season), complete more passes and be more efficient in the red zone. These are all glaring issues he has seen while watching tape.

“In the last three games we’ve had five interceptions and three fumbles. The way I have always evaluated turnovers is I put it with carelessness and toughness.” Meyer said. “Fundamentals fall underneath carelessness. We’ve had more turnovers this year than we had all of ’08 already.” He continues, “Our running backs have accounted for four [big plays] for the year. Just to give in relative terms, we had five in one game last year against FSU. So that tells you a lack of production. None in the last five games from the running back position.”

HEALED INJURIES PROVIDE HOPE

Though Meyer said that redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose is questionable for the Georgia game with an ankle injury, he is relatively confident that juniors running back Jeff Demps (foot) and kicker Caleb Sturgis (back) will be able to play. Demps, Meyer said, “ran on the treadmill, he’s going to practice 20-25 snaps today.” Sturgis missed three weeks with a severely injured back he had been struggling with early in the season. Senior punter Chas Henry has been filling in for him; he made two field goals against Alabama but has missed every other attempt since. “Good news on Sturgis,” Meyer said. “We’re going to try him this week, see what happens.”

RAINEY READY TO RETURN?

Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey, who had been suspended from the team for a month, was reinstated last week by Meyer on a provisional basis. During the Southeastern Conference teleconference last Wednesday, Meyer said Rainey would be eligible for the Georgia game but would not play unless he met specific requirements laid out by the coaching staff and administration. He reiterated that fact Monday, noting that a decision on Rainey’s availability will be made on Thursday. He has been practicing with the team for two weeks and was on the sidelines in normal clothes for the Mississippi State game.

MEYER INVOLVED IN PLAYCALLING

Brushing off whether or not playcalling is an issue for the Gators, Meyer said he evaluates every play that is called each week. “We don’t have a bad play. I don’t allow that. That’s kind of my job,” he said. “There’s no such thing as saying, ‘Boy, that’s a bad play.’ It might look awful because someone doesn’t block the right guy or someone doesn’t execute. So I go back to efficiency. I evaluate every play called. I do that every week. Is there times where I would have liked to run this as opposed to this? Yeah. Is it a bad play? There’s not a bad play that goes into a game. It’s poorly executed because we didn’t efficiently practice it.”

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » 10/25: Urban Meyer’s Monday press conference

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

TWO BITS: soccer rolls, Newton for Heisman?

1 » No. 12 Florida Gators soccer (13-2-2, 7-1-1 SEC) continued its winning ways on Thursday by defeating the LSU Tigers (6-7-4, 3-3-3 SEC) 2-0 on the road in Baton Rouge, LA. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference with South Carolina, Florida earned the win with goals from freshman forward Taylor Travis (4’) and sophomore F/midfielder Natalia Torosian (71’). Redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine also made four saves. The Gators will play their final regular season match at home in Gainesville, FL, at the James G. Pressly Stadium this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Arkansas. The 2010 SEC Tournament runs from Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, AL.

2 » Florida has a track record for producing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks. However, this year, it looks like a former Gators QB may have the opportunity to win that award for a rival school. As if you didn’t know already, Cameron Newton (now of the Auburn Tigers) has been tabbed as a frontrunner for the award, but if it was his choice he’d be competing for it while still wearing the Orange & Blue. “If it was up to me, I would still want to be at Florida,” Newton told ESPN early this week. “My heart is still at Florida because of the long-lasting relationships I have with my teammates there. Leaving them was the hardest part.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »