Hounshell switches commitment to Notre Dame

Though he never officially decommitted from the Florida Gators in early January, three-star offensive lineman recruit Chase Hounshell (Kirkland, OH) chose not to enroll early at the University of Florida as he had originally planned in order to delay his final decision so he could gather more information. Monday evening Hounshell switched his commitment from the Gators to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the same day coaches from that school paid him an in-home visit.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp, offensive line coach Frank Verducci and tight ends coach Brian White visited Hounshell on Sunday and came away with an agreement from the young man that he would visit UF this upcoming weekend in order to reaffirm his commitment. Meeting with Notre Dame less than 24 hours later appears to have canceled those plans as well.

“I committed to the University of Notre Dame,” Hounshell announced on his personal Twitter account. “[I] want to thank Gator Country for all your support. You guys are the best, but I had to do what’s best for me.”

According to 247 Sports, he will switch to defensive end for the Fighting Irish.

When he agreed to join the team on Aug. 11, Hounshell was the Gators 13th commitment. Since head coach Urban Meyer (and in this case offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio) left the program, he is Florida’s third decommitment. The others include four-stars cornerback Nick Waisome (Florida State) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (Ohio State). Four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Clemson) decommitted from UF on Nov. 29

The Gators now have 15 commitments for the 2011 recruiting cycle, seven of whom enrolled in January for the spring semester.
 

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Four-star CB Waisome drops Florida for FSU

Four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) became the third Florida Gators commitment to leave the program since Nov. 29 after switching his pledge to the Florida State Seminoles on Monday.

Waisome, who originally picked Florida over Florida State when making his official commitment on Aug. 18, said as recently as Dec. 3 that he was “firm” in his decision even after former head coach Urban Meyer stepped down.

After previously taking a trip to Tallahassee, FL, he met with new head coach Will Muschamp while taking an official visit this past weekend and apparently things did not go as well as all had hoped. Waisome’s final decision will likely stick as he is planning to enroll early at the university of his choosing in Jan.

Waisome had previously stated that his relationship with the Gators’ coaching staff was one of the main reasons for his commitment. With a lot of turnover likely – especially at defensive coordinator – he may have felt uncomfortable with the situation. Especially considering he would have been enrolling at Florida without a position coach in place.

Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) left the Gators for the Ohio State Buckeyes on Dec. 17, and four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) decommitted in late Nov. Pagan had been back-and-forth over his decision. With Waisome’s departure, UF has lost their three best defensive recruits in under 20 days.

The Gators now have only five defensive commitments remaining as part of the 2011 class: four-star CB Louchiez Purifoy (Pensacola, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (Deland, FL), four-star DE Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star CB Chris Johnson (Ocala, FL) and three-star ATH/CB Valdez Showers (Madison Heights, MI).

Photo Credit: Scout.com

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Gators lose four-star LB Shazier to Buckeyes

Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL) decided to decommit from the Florida Gators early Friday while taking an official visit in Columbus, OH, only to commit to the Ohio State Buckeyes later that evening.

One of the country’s top-ranked linebackers and a top-five commitment for the Gators, Shazier had received offers from more than three dozen schools including almost every major program in the country but committed to Florida and head coach Urban Meyer in June. After Meyer resigned, Shazier decided to look around and was called on by Ohio State and the LSU Tigers.

Because he plans to be an early enrollee, Shazier had to make his decision now rather than later.

New head coach Will Muschamp had met with Shazier and expressed his interest in retaining him as one of the Gators’ recruits. With his reneging, Florida will only have one front seven defensive commitment left on board in four-star defensive end Clay Burton (Venice, FL). Four-star DE Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), formerly the Gators No. 2 overall commit, decommitted in late Nov.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas/ESPN

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Three top recruits still sticking with the Gators

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

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DE Jeoffrey Pagan decommitts from Gators

The third commitment for the Florida Gators’ 2011 recruiting class, four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) decommitted from the program on Sunday, according to an interview he conducted with Rivals.

Pagan, who committed in April before being iffy with his decision in May and ultimately reaffirming his choice in July, told Rivals that he pulled back his commitment on Sunday because he was “missing out on some stuff and wanted to get back into everything.”

He also admitted that Florida losing assistant head coach and defense/defensive line coach Dan McCarney to North Texas “play[ed] a factor” in his decision. McCarney personally recruited Pagan, who is Rivals’ No. 36 overall player and No. 3 DE for 2011.

ESPNU ranks him No. 19 overall and believes he is the fourth-best DE in the 2011 class.

Pagan was unanimously considered UF’s second-best 2011 commit behind only five/four-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL).

Head coach Urban Meyer promised after Saturday’s loss to Florida State that he and the coaching staff would “recruit our butt off” while simultaneously preparing for the Gators’ bowl game. Meyer has reportedly been hot in pursuit of four-star Miami DE commit Anthony Chickillo (Tampa, FL) who was also being recruited by McCarney.

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

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Five days later, A.C. Leonard recommits to Gators

Less than a week after decommitting from the Florida Gators, four-star tight end recruit A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL) has renewed his pledge to the University of Florida and claims that it is his final decision, according to a report from Scout.com.

Leonard told Scout that outside influences were pulling him in different directions and giving him bad advice about his future; after thinking about it, he decided to recommit and is “shutting the whole process down” out of respect for the Gators.

“I will enroll early at the University of Florida in January to try and help bring a championship back to Gainesville,” he told Scout‘s Jason Higdon. “I want to apologize to the Gator Nation and coach [Urban] Meyer, coach [Scot] Loeffler and coach [Brian] White. [...] I am 100 percent Gator and the recruiting process is over.”

Florida’s second commitment for 2011 (he verbally agreed to join the team on Nov. 29, 2009), Leonard is also the third-highest rated behind five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) and four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC). After decommiting on Oct. 13, he said he was considering Alabama, Miami and Nebraska.

Photo Credit: Harrison Diamond/The Alligator

OGGOA RELATED: A.C. Leonard decommits, opens up recruitment

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DE Pagan solidifies commitment to Gators

Though the Florida Gators received two commitments before Friday Night Lights even began, the fallout from the event has not been as immediate as many fans might have expected. Perhaps the biggest news coming out of the camp is the solidification of the commitment of four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC), who was previously wavering with his decision to wear the Orange and Blue in 2011.

Pagan first committed to the Gators in April but, as soon as May, softened his commitment strength to around 75 percent. Just three weeks ago, he told the Asheville Citizen-Times that he was “about 50 percent on Florida,” saying he would probably not announce officially until his high school season began on Aug. 27.

Some even believed that Florida’s acquisition of five-star defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin via transfer from California would irk Pagan due to the added competition, even though Martin is expected to compete mostly at linebacker.

Instead, according to two recruiting services, Pagan solidified his commitment on Friday after his mom got a chance to visit, tour and approve of the University of Florida.

He is currently one of the highest-rated Gators coming in for 2011, only second behind five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL). Pagan is ranked No. 19 overall by ESPNU and No. 25 by Rivals.

OGGOA RELATED: CB recruit Louchiez Purifoy picks Florida, too
OGGOA RELATED: Four-star lineman Trip Thurman picks Florida

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

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FOUR BITS: Young going for gold, Pagan thinking, Gilbert leading, Bullard eliminated from WWE

1 » Competing with the USA Basketball Men’s U-18 National Team in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men, Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) already wow’ed his coaches and is now impressing his opponents, too. Below are his stat lines thus far:

- June 26 vs. Virgin Islands – 5/7 for 11 points, nine rebounds in 10 minutes
- June 27 vs. Mexico – 2/4 for four points, eight rebounds, two blocks in 20 minutes
- June 28 vs. Argentina – 4/5 for 11 points, five rebounds in 16 minutes
- June 29 vs. Canada – 1/2 for two points, one rebound, one block in 10 minutes

Young will join his team in the tournament gold medal game on Wednesday at Bill Greehey Arena in San Antoinio, TX, against Brazil. Also of note is former Gators five-star guard commit Austin Rivers (Winter Park, FL), who set a FIBA record with nine consecutive three-pointers in the USA’s defeat of Canada. Rivers went 3/6 from the field and 9/12 from beyond the arc while posting a tournament-high 35 points.

2 » Almost immediately after committing to Florida, there were rumors that four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan (Asheville, NC) may change his mind. The Gators’ second-best 2011 recruit overall behind quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), Pagan committed back in April, telling Rivals that head coach Urban Meyer “stood up, did a little dance and gave me a hug” when he accepted the scholarship offer. “I decided that I definitely wanted to lock in my spot with the Gators and be part of this team,” he said in April. “I think I’m firm [with my decision]. I don’t plan on taking any more visits or seeing anywhere else. I’m sure people say it all the time, but this feels like home. Florida makes me feel like I am at home.” Now Pagan calls himself “about 50 percent on Florida, but the commitment is still there. It’s strong,” adding that he will “announce whether I’m going to Florida or look elsewhere before the season starts” on Aug. 27.

3 » Florida Today caught up with Florida redshirt senior offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert and picked his brain about a few topics including what happened at the end of last season. “We had guys thinking they were better than they were and weren’t playing up to their potential,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got this saying, ‘No primos and no rock stars. Go out and do your job.’ Everybody is going to work the same amount, and there aren’t going to be any superstars on the team. I think everybody – especially after watching that SEC game in Atlanta – everybody has fire and desire to handle things in a different way because my feeling is, I didn’t think we were that ready. We had a good game plan in and we had the players to beat Alabama, but we weren’t ready to go out there and get the job done because I guess we had been there before. That’s what it seemed like to me. We weren’t as focused. That week of practice wasn’t as it usually had been. It was different.” As for this year? “It’s our time. It’s our team,” he said. “That’s what [the seniors] go by. So anything that goes on, they say this is your team; you have to make the decision; you have to be the leaders; you have to step up. It’s our responsibility. I think we have the guys still who can do the same thing — get back there — because we have a talented group coming back. I think we can be better.”

4 » Former Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard‘s (ring name Titus O’Neil) mission to become World Wrestling Entertainment’s next breakout star ended on Tuesday as he was eliminated from the WWE NXT television program. O’Neil, whose background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida was played up heavily by the producers/announcers, did a Gator Chomp when at the top of the entrance rap and was quite powerful in the ring. However, as some might agree, he was one of the least dynamic personalities on the show and was scripted to both lose matches and make mistakes throughout his short time on WWE television.

Photo Credit: Asheville Citizen-Times

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