No. 18 Florida Gators (10-3) football saw its offense fall to greater depths on Saturday as the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide (12-1) pulled away late with a 29-15 victory to win the 2015 SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
Though UF once again avoided its first shutout since 1988, that was about the only positive to take away from the affair as the Gators offense continued to struggle and their defense simply got worn down after being on the field for three-quarters of the game.
We’re back with the last regular-season edition of Florida Football Friday Final, as OnlyGators.com takes a last look at the No. 18 Florida Gators before they take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2015 SEC Championship Game on Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
The Gators (10-2) and Crimson Tide (11-1) will do battle with Florida not only a severe underdog but looking to play the role of spoiler to Alabama’s hopes of making the College Football Playoff.
Brushing off four lost fumbles and a tie score early in the second half, the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC) lived up to their national ranking with a 42-21 thrashing of the visiting Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Saturday afternoon.
The Crimson Tide scored 21 unanswered points to end the contest, converting seven-straight third downs in the second half (two for touchdowns) and overpowering a Gators defense that could not get itself off the field.
UA racked up 645 yards of total offense in the contest, the most given up by a UF team in a single game in school history, and 449 passing yards, second-most allowed by the Gators in one contest.
With the loss, Florida head coach Will Muschamp fell to 4-13 against ranked opponents as the Gators lost their fourth-straight game to the Crimson Tide dating back to 2008.
Just hours after landing a much-needed piece for the team’s 2012 recruiting class, the Florida Gators got their 2013 squad started with a bang by securing a commitment from ESPNU150 watch list running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL).
Set to be one of the top-rated rushers in the 2013 recruiting class, Lane has long been the apple of Florida’s eye. Former running backs coach Stan Drayton (now with Ohio State) had been recruiting him since his freshman year, and current RB coach Brian White has been his primary recruiter ever since.
Lane formed a strong relationship with Drayton but told Rivals.com on Jan. 1 that he speaks with White the most out of any coach recruiting him. He is also close with head coach Will Muschamp and tight ends coach Derek Lewis.
Ohio State is one of a number of other big-time schools pursuing him as he claims offers from Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia and South Florida among others.
Lane, who broke his fibula just days into his junior season, ran a 4.5-second 40-yard-dash in late December while calling himself only “80 percent” healthy. At 5’7” and 207 lbs., he is the bruising, physical rusher that the Gators desperately need but will not be the only back the team plans on pursuing for 2013.
Florida will remain steadfast in trying to gain a pledge another rusher with their primary focus on Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), the son of former Gators star RB Fred Taylor. UF has also targeted Greg Bryant (Delray Beach, FL), Ryan Green (St. Petersburg, FL) and Georgia commit Derrick Henry (Yulee, FL).
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 pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.
The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 22, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of the top 10 players that share mutual interest in attending Florida as well as list of the top five most talented prospects who will be camping in Gainesville, FL. Neither list is sorted in any particular order.
DE Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA) –
The No. 5 player at his position in 2012, Jenkins recently attended Dawg Night but has not narrowed down his list into a top-five yet. He will visit Alabama after taking his trip to Florida and has already spent time with Auburn, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
DE Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) –
Slotted two spots below Jenkins, McCord visited UF with his parents in late June and is now returning one month later. South Carolina and North Carolina are also working hard to eventually win him over and earn his services, but it is believed that his final two are Florida and USC with the Gators out in front.
TE Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) –
The top-ranked tight end in the nation according to Rivals, Taylor has a myriad of offers on the table but appears to have narrowed his choices down to Florida and Penn State. His father seems to favor UF, but Taylor grew up as a PSU fan. Other schools in contention for his services include Florida State (where he nearly committed in the spring), Alabama, Auburn and LSU.
Check out the other nine players featured in this post…after the break!
1 » Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who has mostly been out on the road recruiting since the Seattle Seahawks were eliminated from the NFL Playoffs, has been assigned the Jacksonville, FL area as his primary recruiting grounds, according to The Florida Times-Union. The Times-Union’s Hays Carlyon reports that Quinn visited a number of area high schools on Friday and notes that Florida could be interested in two Yulee High School players over the next two seasons – tight end/linebacker Kelvin Rainey in 2012 and running back Derrick Henry in 2013.
2 » When former Gators safety Ahmad Black presented the game ball from the 2011 Outback Bowl to Ian Lockwood, it was obvious the two (and then-head coach Urban Meyer) had formed a special bond. In Mobile, AL for the 2011 Under Armour Senior Bowl, Black spoke with the Pensacola News Journal about his friendship with Lockwood and how the two became so close so quickly. “He opened the door to the Florida football program,” said Lockwood’s high school football coach Chad Lashley. “That has meant the world to Ian. It just shows the unbelievable character of Ahmad and his concern for other people. With him getting that interception, it was just the perfect ending.” You can read more thoughts from Black and Lashley by clicking here.
3 » Taking the Louisville Cardinals to a 7-6 record and earning Big East Co-Coach of the Year honors in 2010, head coach Charlie Strong appears to be in line for a new contract with a substantial raise, according to The Louisville Courier-Journal, which spoke with athletic director Tom Jurich. “We want to do [give him a raise], but this staff has been busy and they’re doing a great job, so when signing day is over and we get some time, we’re definitely going to address that,” Jurich said. “It’s been great that he’s been able to keep his staff together to this point, and I can tell you those guys are really getting after it and they’re having a great time. They’re on a rocket ship right now, and it’s fun to watch.” Louisville doing what it can to keep Strong now may prevent him leaving until a significantly better job is available a few years down the road. He currently earns $1.6 million per season.
4 » Redshirt junior guard Mike Rosario is biding his time helping Florida improve during practice while he waits out a NCAA-mandated transfer season. An article written for CNN profiling Rosario’s hall of fame high school head coach Bob Hurley, Sr. notes that the player once the star of one of Hurley’s teams and describes him as a “hot-tempered kid who used basketball as a refuge from the life in a housing project.” Rosario recounted his time playing for Hurley. “He started disciplining me like I was one of his sons,” he said. “It was to the point where I was like, ‘Wow, I had never been pushed like this in my life.’ I learned how to be a man and not a boy.”
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