Decision time: Waisome picks UF, Wilder to FSU

Two of the country’s top high school seniors announced their respective college choices on Wednesday, both deciding to attend a respective university that will put them in direct competition with each other. Four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) committed to the Florida Gators, while five-star running back James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) has decided to play for the Florida State Seminoles.

Waisome, who greatly impressed coaches and those in attendance with his combination of speed and technical proficiency at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp on July 23, is one of the top 10 players at his position in the nation and noted that the school’s graduation rate and coaching philosophy were big motivators in his decision.

“It was the relationship with the coaches, some of the players, I like the atmosphere,” Waisome said on ESPNU. “The school is a fun place. And I just liked it overall. Great school. [They] win championships. [I'm] ready to play.”

He also discussed meeting with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin during his last visit to the University of Florida. “It was a good experience, I got to talk to him one-on-one about some of the coaching factors he uses individually – what kind of schemes they run and stuff like that. I got a feel of how he coaches, and I feel I can be coached the same way.”

Also one of the top 25 recruits in the state of Florida, Waisome becomes the Gators’ 14th commitment for the 2011 recruiting cycle and is only the second CB to sign after four-star Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL) decided to join the team just before FNL.

Unlike Waisome, Wilder did not attend Florida’s camp and instead decided to visit Florida State in the later part of July. Though he was a strong Gators lean for quite some time, in the end Wilder felt that he has a greater chance to succeed as a RB – his position of choice – playing with the Seminoles.

Photo Credit: Scout.com

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WR Pittman becomes Gators first 2012 commit

As the Florida Gators await the official announcements of 2011 five-star running back recruit James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) and four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) – both set to come on Wednesday – the team received its first commitment of the 2012 recruiting cycle on Tuesday. According to multiple sources including Rivals, wide receiver Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) has committed to the Gators.

In an interview with the Ocala Star-Banner back in June, Pittman said that he received a scholarship offer from head coach Urban Meyer after visiting the University of Florida for a football camp one week prior.

“[Getting an offer] was exciting. Something I’ve been waiting for for a long time,” Pittman told the paper. “We set up a date after July 4th to sit down and talk about it again. […] I believe [I will commit] over the summer when my mom and dad go back with me. Growing up around the Gators – I always knew I wanted to play in the orange and blue.”

At the time, Pittman said he was “really leaning toward” committing to Florida and that “it’s been my dream to play there since I was three.”

OGGOA will update this story as more information is made available.

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Aug. 18 next important day in Gators recruiting?

The Florida Gators have experienced some memorable moments in recruiting recently.

During a one-week span from Dec. 13-19, 2005, when five-star quarterback Tim Tebow and five-star wide receiver Percy Harvin verbally committed, to Jan. 9, 2010, when five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, five-star safety Matt Elam and five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd all picked the Gators at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, pulling in top recruits always seems to come in bunches for Florida.

The same thing may happen a week from Wednesday on Aug. 18, as five-star athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) and four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) have each agreed to announce their commitments on the same day.

It was previously reported that Wilder and Waisome, each of whom are have the Gators as a finalist (Waisome as his leader), will announce their college choice on an ESPN network live from a Tampa television station at 5 p.m. Instead, Wilder will be announcing in Tampa while Waisome will make his choice on his own in Orlando, FL.

Both players have been Florida leans for quite some time and while all indications are that Waisome is as solid as ever, there have been murmurs recently that Wilder was impressed by a recent visit to Florida State (which he took instead of attending the Gators’ Friday Night Lights camp). Wilder had planned to take a number of other visits but has already canceled a trip to Georgia. There is an increasing sentiment that he is FSU’s to lose at this point even though he had been interested in attending Florida for a while, has often visited Gainesville, FL, on his own dime and has a strong relationship with head coach Urban Meyer.

Photo Credit: St. Petersburg Times

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Wrapping up Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp

Mixing pop 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 almost 100 of the best high school football players in the country.

The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend, as they did this year, but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while listening to hip-hop and getting to know each other.

The Swamp was once again filled with top young talent on July 23, so much so that covering every player that stepped on the field is a near impossibility. Check out six of the more notable visitors (as well as one who interestingly did not show up) and find out where their heads are at…after the break
Continue Reading » Wrapping up Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp

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SIX BITS: Wilder, Smith, Harvin, Ingram, Heat, golf

1 » Though he did not commit to the team as was rumored late last week due to a falsified e-mail, five-star athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) does have a leader: the Florida Gators are the “team to beat,” according to Rivals’s Mark Wheeler. “Sources say [his upcoming visits are] more to confirm his choice of Florida than anything else,” Wheeler wrote. “Wilder Jr. is enthused that Florida looks to be moving to a more traditional power running game.” In addition to recruiting fullbacks, the Gators are “expected to still feature the dive play and many inside and off-tackle running plays, but instead of [Tim] Tebow carrying the ball, Wilder would be the guy. Throw in his comfort level at Florida as well as that of his family, and the Gators will be tough to beat.”

2 » Former Florida running back Emmitt Smith has done plenty in his career. An inductee to the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year, he holds NFL career records for rushing yards (18,355), rushing touchdowns (164) and 100+ yard rushing games (78). The eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time Super Bowl champion was also the 1989 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and is a member of the Gators’ Ring of Honor. But where he may have made his biggest impact is at Escambia High School, where he began his legacy. The Florida High School Athletic Association Player of the Century, Smith was not only a great player, his presence at the school helped ease racial tensions. “I wasn’t thinking about any racial tensions when I got to Escambia,” Smith told the Canton Repository. “It never dawned on me that I was part of a transformation at the school. I knew Escambia had a negative past, but I saw it was over and done with. I had played with white guys, black guys, all kinds of guys. Maybe that was me being naive.”

Four more BITS on Percy Harvin’s charity work, Cornelius Ingram’s knee, Gators on the Miami Heat and The Open Championship…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Wilder, Smith, Harvin, Ingram, Heat, golf

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TWO BITS: Dorial Green, The Open Championship

1 » While some in the media fawned over the false commitment story surrounding five-star 2011 athlete James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) on Thursday, the Florida Gators have been setting their sights on one of the best players available in the 2012 recruiting session. That man is five-star wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (Springfield, MO), who Florida has targeted as their No. 1 target next year. A source who spoke with OGGOA Friday told us that Green has already visited the University of Florida and met with head football coach Urban Meyer and head basketball coach Billy Donovan. Though he is a two-sport star in high school, it is unknown if he plans to pursue both opportunities in college; however, one would expect the Gators to be open to such a concession if it is requested. MaxPreps national football editor Stephen Spiewak wrote a terrific profile piece on Green on Thursday – check it out.

2 » Former Florida golfers are continuing to make noise at The Open Championship at St. Andrews. After two rounds of action, 50-year-old Mark Calcavecchia is in second place; he is 7-under through two rounds of 70 and 67, respectively, and five shots off the lead. It is also worth noting that Calcavecchia has experience in this event, winning The Open in 1989 at Troon by beating Greg Norman and Wayne Grady in a playoff. Brian Gay, on the other hand, fell to T144 (+11) after shooting an 83 on Friday. Camillo Villegas is still in action, currently T43 (-1) through 12 holes; he shot a four-under 72 on Thursday. OGGOA will update all scores when the second round is completed.

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Going camping: Top recruits visit Florida in June

Over the last two weeks, plenty has been going on with the Florida Gators as far as recruiting for the 2011 season is concerned. Since June 10, the Gators have received in four commitments, including four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL) [article], three-star fullback Hunter Joyer (Tampa, FL) [article], three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) [article], four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantaiton, FL) [article].

Additionally, the team got a commitment without an official offer from three-star LB Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) [article], and 2012 WR Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) [article] is all but ready to pick Florida before his junior year of high school even begins.

However, the Gators still have plenty of work to do in order to enhance the current eight-person 2011 class, and the team made a lot of headway as recruits participated in football camps and took visits to the University of Florida in recent weeks.

Update yourself on some of the top 2011 recruits and targets…after the break!
Continue Reading » Going camping: Top recruits visit Florida in June

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Florida commits ranked as 2011 ratings released

While some programs are racking up 2011 commitments early, the Florida Gators are taking a more concerted approach, sporting a foursome of four-star players set to join the team next season. ESPNU and Rivals have both come out with their first round of high school football recruit rankings within the last week, each with a different perspective of where the Gators’ current commitments fall.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL)
No. 14 – ESPNU (No. 1 QB)
No. 31 – Rivals (No. 1 QB)

Defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC)
No. 19 – ESPNU (No. 4 DE)
No. 25 – Rivals (No. 3 DE)

Tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL)
No. 66 – ESPNU (No. 7 ATH)
No. 89 – Rivals (No. 6 TE)

Athlete De’Ante Saunders (Deland, FL)
No. 74 – ESPNU (No. 8 ATH)
Outside top 250 – Rivals

Though Pagan is noted on the above list, he has come out publicly and said that he will be taking a number of official visits before his commitment is 100 percent solid to Florida. He is interested in schools closer to home but also has big-name programs like USC, Ohio State, Georgia and Tennessee vying for his services.

Rivals’ Mark Wheeler notes that the Gators are either targeting, being prominently mentioned by or in the mix for 29 more of the company’s top 100 recruits, including four players in the top 10: No. 2 linebacker Tony Steward (St. Augustine, FL), No. 3 ATH James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL), No. 7 offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio (Hyattsville, MA) and No. 8 LB Curtis Grant (Richmond, VA).

Photo Credit: ESPN

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