Will Muschamp, coaches discuss Florida Gators 2014 signees, recruiting process

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
2014 Florida signee bios | Gators flip four-star QB Treon Harris from Seminoles, add WR C.J. Worton | Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Florida

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff finished inking its 24-member 2014 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

OPENING STATEMENT

”It’s a great day here at the University of Florida, a lot of hard work put in by our staff. I don’t think people realize the contribution it takes from everybody. It’s a total team effort on campus, professors, our administration, our academic people do a fantastic job. When a young man comes on campus for an official visit, all of the people that have to contribute to make that a special experience, and our people do it the best. Our travel people do an amazing job. All of our pilots, [the media seems] to track pretty well, but they do a phenomenal job. It takes all these moving parts to make things work the right way. So we got a great staff. Our staff did an outstanding job.

“We had a miserable fall, and to have the staff come together – three new coaches in Kurt Roper, Mike Summers and Coleman Hutzler come together and change a little bit, not philosophically, but schematically offensively, adjust some things that we need to do in midstream as far as some of the guys we were recruiting and to put together this class – I’m really proud of that. I don’t know where we ended up as far as any rankings and all. You all know me, I don’t get overly concerned with that.”

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Florida Gators 2014 National Signing Day bios

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
Will Muschamp breaks down Gators recruiting class | Florida flips four-star QB Treon Harris from FSU, adds WR C.J. Worton | Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Gators

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEES (9)

Taven Bryan • Defensive lineman
6’5″ • 257 • Casper, WY
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Unanimously selected as the 2013 Conference Defensive Player of the Year…Named to the All-State First Team on both the defensive line and the offensive line and to the All-Conference First Team on the offensive line as a high school senior…Honored with the 2013 Natrona County Iron Man award…Helped lead Natrona County to a 41-6 record in his final three seasons, including back-to-back state titles in 2012 and 2013…Chose Florida over Colorado, Colorado State, Nebraska, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington, Washington State and Wyoming…Coached by Steve Harshman.

Duke Dawson • Cornerback
5’10″ • 191 • Cross City, FL
PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Named to the Florida Class 1A First-Team All-State defense…Helped Dixie County to a 10-1 record during his senior season…Nominated to play in the 2014 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl…Finished his high school career with 122 total tackles, 99 solo, and seven interceptions…Made 43 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles as a junior…Chose Florida over Alabama, Florida State, Iowa and Wisconsin.

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Four-star WR commit Ermon Lane ditches Florida

Losing and gaining commitments on a daily basis, the Florida Gators got news Friday night that another top-flight offensive playmaker has left the program as four-star wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) officially decommitted.

“No Hard Feelings But I Just Decommitted From The University Of Florida . Not Because Dalvin Cook. No lie I love gator nation. #OneLove,” he wrote on his Twitter account. “I love the gators fans but I have to do what’s best for me.”

Lane, the 44th-ranked prospect nationally and the fourth South Florida player to decommit from Florida since Dec. 25, 2013, originally pledged to join the Gators on Aug. 12, 2013, the same day as four-star defensive backs Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and Chris Lammons (Plantation, FL).

Only Wilson remains committed to Florida; he has been one of UF’s strongest pledges.

Lammons decommitted on Thursday, following in the footsteps of four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) and 2015 four-star WR Da’Vante Phillips (Miami, FL).

Lane’s decision is not much of a shocker. He was seen wearing Florida State gear months ago and has long been rumored to flip to the Seminoles just like Cook did on Dec. 31, 2013. Lane has also been saying for a while that he plans to make a commitment on National Signing Day on Feb. 5 despite remaining committed.

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Gators add TE Moral Stephens to 2014 class

On the same day the Florida Gators saw a highly-rated tight end transfer out of the program, the team added a commitment from one in the 2014 class as four star Moral Stephens (Perry, FL) announced his intent to play for the University of Florida.

“I just committed to the university of Florida #GatorNation” he wrote early Thursday afternoon via his Twitter account.

Stephens (6-foot-3, 205-pounds) is ranked No. 191 overall by Rivals and No. 206 by ESPN, which also rates him as a four-star prospect.

His offer sheet was expansive including interest from Arkansas, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, South Carolina and others.

Though listed as a wide receiver, Stephens is expected to be a hybrid tight end in college, making him the third player at the position to join the Gators this cycle.

Florida also has pledges two other tight ends – four-star DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS) and C’yontai Lewis (Tuscaloosa, AL). Stephens is the fifth overall pass catcher on the Gators’ commitment list, which also includes two four-star wide receivers in Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) and Ryan Sousa (Orlando, FL).

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Four-star TE DeAndre Goolsby commits to Florida

The Florida Gators’ tight end woes may be coming to an end – next season, that is – as the team on Friday landed a commitment from four-star 2014 prospect DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), its second tight end pledge of the cycle.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Goolsby was a must-get at a position of great need for Florida. He visited the school for the second time in a matter of months on Sept. 20 and wound up choosing UF over Arkansas, Kansas State, Ohio State and Oklahoma.

Goolsby is the second tight end to join the Gators’ 2014 class as the program already has two-star C’yontai Lewis (Tuscaloosa, AL) in the fold for next season.

While he is ranked No. 168 overall and considered the third-best player at his position by Rivals, Goolsby is listed as a three-star prospect by ESPN.

He is the 15th member of Florida’s incoming recruiting class, the first to make a pledge for the Gators in three months, and expects to be an early enrollee with a plan to join the program for spring practice in January.

Goolsby’s father, Brian, was a fullback at KSU from 1995-98.

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Previewing Florida’s 2013 Friday Night Lights

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often host top-tier prospects over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough while coaching up the recruits.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 26, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

DB Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, CA) –
A two-way player and consensus five-star prospect, Jackson is an incredible talent that can play wide receiver or cornerback on the collegiate level. A high school track star, he desires to play two sports in college and is a big fan of Florida track & field coach Mike Holloway; the interest is more than mutual. Jackson will be visiting the Gators for the first time on Friday but is expected to return in the fall for an official visit. He is ranked as the No. 9 overall prospect in the country by Rivals.

WR Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, FL) –
One of Florida’s top pass catching targets, Rudolph once listed the Gators as his leader but is now wide open with Alabama, Ohio State and Oregon (among others) all pushing hard for the Rivals250 prospect. Rudolph is ranked 153rd overall by Rivals and is said to have a great relationship with Florida WR coach Joker Phillips, his primary recruiter.

DB Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) –
Ranked 150th in the nation by Rivals, Wilson wants to play college football in his home state, and it is widely believed that the Gators are in the lead for his services. He is close with Florida four-star RB pledge Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) and four-star WR Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL), who is also believed to be a UF lean. Wilson and Lane both plan to make their commitments official in August, but the former could wind up popping for the Gators this weekend. Lane will not be in attendance at FNL.

Read up on seven more players attending Friday Night Lights…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Beal, Lewis, Johnson, Sturgis

1 » In Washington, D.C. with USA Basketball preparing for the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan wound up sitting down next to rookie Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal for an interview with Monumental Network (check it out below). The terrific interview includes plenty of compliments going both ways, but Donovan noting that Beal put serious consideration into staying at Florida for his sophomore season is the most interesting.

“A lot of people don’t know his biggest fear going into the NBA was he felt coming into college as a freshman, he was playing with some older guys, and he said, ‘Do you think I’m making a mistake by bypassing a step of being a go-to guy and a leader on the team, because I’ve never done that? Do you think that’s going to hurt me if I go up there?’ I thought, what an incredibly mature question to ask. It was never really about the money, it was never about that. It was about what did he need to do to be the best he could be.”

Check out the VIDEO and three more BITS of Florida Gators news!
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FOUR BITS: track, Tebow, Lewis, Moss

1 » A total of 10 current and former Florida Gators qualified for the 14th IAAF World Outdoor Championships over the weekend by competing in events across the globe. Twenty-one Gators participated at the 2013 USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships from June 19-23 in Des Moines, IA, with six moving on to the next stage of competition. Senior Omar Craddock and reigning Olympic silver medalist Will Claye finished one-two in the men’s triple jump. (Olympic gold medalist and 2012 World Champion Christian Taylor will also compete in Moscow, Russia from Aug. 10-18.)

Olympic relay silver medalist Tony McQuay and freshman Arman Hall finished two-three in the men’s 400 meters, Kerron Clement qualified with a fifth-place finish in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, and junior Cory McGee came in third in the women’s 1,500 meters but must still meet the “B” standard qualifying time before heading off to Moscow. Additionally, Novlene Williams-Mills won the Jamaican title in the women’s 400 meters, junior Eddie Lovett will race the men’s 110-meter hurdles for the Virgin Islands, and senior Ugonna Ndu will compete in the women’s 400-meter hurdles for Nigeria. Ndu can also qualify for the 100-meter hurdles by meeting the “B” standard qualifying time in that event prior to the start of the World Championships.

2 » New England Patriots quarterback Tim Tebow has been keeping a low profile with his new team, just as the front office and coaching staff asked, but he is hoping to make up some of the money he lost after New York waived him with a new investment. Tebow, already a co-owner of a D1 Sports Training facility in Tampa, FL, recently signed on with the fast-growing chain restaurant PDQ as the company’s latest investor. A Tebow-owned PDQ, the company’s eighth location, will open in Jacksonville, FL, later this summer. He also has options to purchase additional stores and may open another location in Jacksonville as well as one or two more in Alachua County. Tebow happened in to a PDQ for lunch one day while taking a break from his charity work in Tampa. He returned to the restaurant that evening for a second meal and immediately asked his management company, XV Enterprises, to learn more about the chain.

Check out two more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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