Though four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, PA) recently dropped the Florida Gators due to a combination of their performance this season, his desire to be closer to home and the departure of assistant head coach defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney, three of Florida’s current 2011 commitments have recently reaffirmed their stance to join the team next year.
Five/four-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), four-star running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL) and four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) each gave the Gators a vote of confidence this week on separate occasions.
“I don’t know where [rumors of my displeasure with Florida] came from. There’s all kinds of people out there that will write anything to make a buzz,” Driskel told The Gainesville Sun recently. “Those [rumors] are 100 percent false. I’m 100 percent [committed] to Florida and I’ll be there in about a month and a half. [The coaches] knew all along that I’m not going anywhere. I’m as solid as can be to Florida.”
“A lot of kids waiver in the process, but I’m 100 percent to Florida,” he said separately on the radio this week. “I have been the whole way. That hasn’t changed.”
Blakely views the Gators’ struggles in 2010 as a better way for him to get on the field sooner than he perhaps may have expected.
“I look at things like this is a great opportunity for me. They need help [on offense] and I want to do what I can next season and beyond,” Blakely told ESPN. “I look at it [Florida's record] and say, ‘Who cares?’ My top two schools were Florida and Auburn. Look at Auburn, they are undefeated. I had a chance to go there and I could change my mind if I wanted to. But I will not because once I committed to the Gators I am a man of my word.
“You know, there are a lot of recruits out there that don’t give Florida a fair look because they are usually too good or because they lost some games and they all think they are going downhill. Every team has a poor year once in a while.”
Waisome is also unfazed by Florida’s recent issues, stating that he has no plans to change his commitment or even look elsewhere.
“I’m pretty much done with where I’m going. I’m firm in my commitment to Florida and I know the chances of me playing early is certainly attainable when I get there,” he told Rivals in an interview. “I like the system better at Florida in what they run and overall have a great comfort level with all the coaches and players.
“It was a tough year for Florida, but that happens even with the best teams. They were also very young at certain positions. Obviously as a corner I do feel I can help out their defense and that’s my goal to play a lot as a freshman next year. Florida played a lot of young guys on the defensive side of the ball and now I have to work to get my chance to play early as well. I’m really excited to be a part of that family and I’m just ready to get to work with the defense. It’s an aggressive defense that is only going to get stronger with the more talent we bring in.”
So while Pagan – a commitment who has been back-and-forth about his decision since the summer – decided to jump ship for a variety of reasons, most (if not the rest) of Florida’s still-growing 2011 signing class appears to be content with their decision to play for the Orange & Blue.
Photo Credit: Thomas Bender/Sarasota Herald-Tribune