One of three players that committed to the Florida Gators on Feb. 16 during its popular Junior Day event, four-star Rivals100 linebacker Christian Miller (Columbia, SC) officially decommitted from the team on Friday, according to ESPN‘s Kipp Adams and InsidetheGators.com‘s Blake Alderman.
The son of former South Carolina starter and nine-year NFL LB Corey Miller, he undoubtedly took his father’s advice when initially making his pledge. The older Miller was coached by Florida defensive line coach Brad Lawing when both were at USC.
Miller registered 14 sacks during his junior campaign at Spring Valley High School and was the third-highest rated player in the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class (No. 91 overall). He was the only linebacker and one of just three defensive players committed.
The offers continue to stack up for Miller with Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Tennessee and TCU all having spoken with him this spring, according to Rivals. Though Miller has reopened his recruitment, he has made no indication that Florida is out of the running for his services. Miller always planned to take multiple official visits.
With National Signing Day now in the books for the 2013 recruiting cycle, the Florida Gators are in the process of hosting a number of 2014 prospects on campus this weekend for the program’s first Junior Day of the season.
Saturday afternoon, the Gators gained a pair of offensive line commitments from guard Travaris Dorsey (Jacksonville, FL) and tackle Benjamin Knox (Deland, FL) and simultaneously lost a pledge from four-star Rivals100 defensive tackle Travonte Valentine (Palm Bay, FL), who did not attend the event.
Dorsey, a long-time Florida lean, pulled the trigger just minutes before Valentine, who has long been considering decommitting from the Gators, announced his decision to reopen his recruitment via his Facebook account. Knox’s high school coach announced his pledge shortly thereafter.
“Decided to [decommit] from Florida need to take a step back and way out my options,” Valentine wrote.
Dorsey and Knox, whose commitments were first reported by InsidetheGators.com’s Blake Alderman, are not currently ranked by Rivals. Dorsey is listed as an ESPN 300 Watch List player while Knox does not have a profile on either recruiting service. Valentine is ranked as the 46th best player in the nation by Rivals.
Three-star linebacker Dillan Lawson (Crestview, FL) and the Florida Gators parted ways on Wednesday evening in a move that was initially seen as a decommitment but is actually a mutual decision between the parties.
Lawson, who was one of six players to commit to Florida at the team’s Junior Day on Feb. 18, was relatively unknown in recruiting circles at the time of his pledge. At 6’4” and 215 lbs., he also claimed offers from Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina and began being noticed more following his commitment.
According to InsidetheGators.com ($), Lawson transferred from Crestview High School “to an alternative school in order to improve his academic standing” just two months after making his pledge for the Gators. He was forced to miss spring practice due to his grades but “though his academic situation is clearing up – for the better – it is still an issue with UF.”
Lawson told ESPN ($), which first reported the change in his commitment status, that Florida did not withdraw his scholarship though he hinted to the situation being murky, which is why he has opened his recruitment.
“I’d love to go to Florida, don’t get me wrong. I’d still love to go to Florida,” Lawson said.
His Crestview High School coach, Kevin Pettis, told The Gainesville Sun that the decision was mutual but that the Gators would offer Lawson again once his academics improved.
“He’s back at Crestview now and doing all the things academically that he’s supposed to be doing. But we’re still trying to make up core classes to boast his GPA and ACT,” Pettis told the paper. “This didn’t happen because he’s not interested in Florida. Coach [Will] Muschamp and the staff did a great job with him. I just think Dillan realized he needed to look at some other places, and I told him if you’re going to do that you have to decommit so that Florida can go out there and recruit another player.
“There is no way that I’m going to let a kid be committed to somewhere and then go look somewhere else. I just don’t believe in that.”
Lawson is waiting to hear back from Florida linebackers coach D.J. Durkin before deciding whether or not to attend Friday Night Lights in late July, according to ITG. He is unranked by Rivals but a four-star prospect and 285th overall player per ESPN.
Seemingly anxious to pull the trigger for the Florida Gators for months now, four-star safety Nick Washington (Jacksonville, FL) verbally committed to head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday, becoming the eighth member of the team’s 2013 recruiting class and fourth player to decide to don the orange and blue on Junior Day.
One of the top performers at Florida’s Friday Night Lights camp over the summer, Washington has long favored the Gators and has now finally made his intentions public.
The No. 94 ranked player on the recently released Rivals100 and a five-star recruit listed as one of ESPNU‘s top 100 prospects of 2013, Washington had a top six also including Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and South Carolina.
“I grew up a Florida fan. Both my parents are Florida fans and that’s how I grew up,” he said when discussing his options over the summer.
An assistant coach at Trinity High School, former Gators safety Guss Scott told ESPN – which was first to report Washington’s commitment – that he can play either safety or cornerback for UF in 2013.
“I think he’s one of the smartest kids I’ve ever coached,” Scott said. “One thing you know about a lot of kids, when they get to the next level the mental part is a problem. But he’s one of the smartest kids probably in his age group. He’s a guy that can recognize formations and do everything. That’s his biggest plus, and he’s a disciplined kid. He’s a great kid to coach.”
Also an avid and versatile baseball player, Washington has met with Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan and was told he will be able to join the team if he chooses to participate in both sports in college. He has said previously that he “definitely” wants to play football and baseball at the next level and three of his final six schools (Florida, Florida State, Clemson) were recruiting him for both sports.
Washington (6’0″ 180 lbs.), who will be a four-year starter at Trinity Christian High School as a senior next year, is now the Gators’ fifth commitment on the defensive side of the ball. He is the first secondary player to pledge for Florida in 2013.
Six of the Gators’ eight commitments are listed on the initial Rivals250 and seven can be found on the ESPNU150 watch list. ESPNU also has three of Florida’s pledges ranked as five-star recruits, while all eight come from within the state.
The Florida Gators continued to reel in the 2013 commitments during Junior Day on Saturday, gaining their third pledge of the day from four-star linebacker and ESPNU 150 watch list member Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, FL), according to an ESPN report.
The seventh 2013 commitment, third linebacker and fourth defensive player to announce his intent to play for the Gators next fall, Powell (6’1” 189 lbs.) chose Florida despite having a list of offers including schools like Clemson, Florida State, Miami, Ohio State, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
He told Rivals.com just last month that he was planning to wait until the All-America game following his senior season to commit to a school.
Though he plays defensive end at Mainland High School, Powell is projected as an outside linebacker at the collegiate level. “He is very quick off the snap and uses his speed to get around the edge. He has good length and does a good job of playing violently at the point-of-contact,” said Rivals analyst Chris Nee.
Powell told Rivals back in November, after visiting the school for the Florida State game, that his interest in the Gators was strong.
“They have all the national championships and traditions,” he said. “That would attract anybody. They’re always on the rise. Of course they’ll have their down periods like anyone else but right now I believe they’re on the rise, and I want to be a part of it.”
Powell joins four-stars Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL) and James Hearns (Tallahassee, FL) as Florida’s three linebacker commitments for 2013. He was the Gators’ third commitment Saturday, following four-stars running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and wide receiver Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, FL).
Eighteen years after his father first donned an orange and blue uniform and ran out onto Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) announced that he would follow in his dad’s footsteps by committing to play football for the Florida Gators in 2013.
The son of University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame running back Fred Taylor, he has been around both football and the Gators his entire life. And like his father, his immensely successful high school football career earned him a scholarship offer from Florida, which he chose over Alabama on Saturday.
Kelvin Taylor (5’10” 205 lbs.) actually began playing as an eighth grader, starting for the Glades Day High School varsity team and running for 1,692 yards and 27 touchdowns. He followed that up by amassing 2,691 yards and 47 touchdowns as a freshman, breaking former Gators running back Emmitt Smith’s career Florida high school record of 8,804 yards two years later at the end of his junior season in 2011.
With 9,698 career yards to his credit (only 8,114 of which count nationally), he has an opportunity to break the all-time record of 11,232 yards, which was set back in 1953. He has also produced 148 touchdowns in four years of playing high school football.
Taylor undoubtedly has his sights set on the NFL and can only hope to be as successful as his father, the No. 9 overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor rushed for 11,695 yards and 66 touchdowns (adding 2,384 receiving yards and eight receiving scores) over 13 seasons as a professional.
His name can also be found throughout Florida’s record books as he still holds the Gators’ single-season record for yards per carry (6.0 in 1997), led the team in rushing in both 1994 and 1997, has the sixth-most attempts in school history (537) and is fourth in both career (3,075) and single-season (1,292) rushing yardage.
Even with a strong love for the Gators, Fred Taylor never pushed his son to commit to Florida and said that he just wanted him to be happy no matter which school he chose.
And just because he will be playing for the Gators, do not expect Kelvin Taylor to think the starting job or anything else for that matter will be handed to him.
Reidel Anthony, a former teammate of his father’s and the offensive coordinator at Glades Central, told ESPNU that Taylor is a hard worker who makes his own way.
“Kelvin plays hungry and there’s no sense of entitlement there,” he said. “He doesn’t expect to just walk in and dominate because he’s Fred Taylor’s son. He wants to be a player that earns what he gets.
“And he’s just a humble young man, real quiet like Fred was. He’s not going to tell you that he’s going to run for 350 yards on you, he’s just going to do it. He has the respect of his teammates, his coaches, other coaches and his opposition because of the way he plays the game.”
Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, also a former teammate of Fred Taylor’s and still a close friend of the family, was Kelvin Taylor’s primary recruiter with the Gators throughout the entire process.
With his commitment now out of the way, the younger Taylor no longer has to endure the rigors of recruiting and can instead concentrate on the things that matter the most.
“I’m gonna keep my grades up, work very hard, run track, lift weights and just focus my mind on high school football and trying to get another state title,” he said earlier in the week, according to The Gainesville Sun.
The No. 111 ranked player nationally according to Rivals and a five-star recruit listed as one of ESPNU’s top 100 prospects in 2013, Taylor gives Florida their second big-time running back commitment in the 2013 class. He joins four-star Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL) as two of the Gators’ five pledges as of press time.
He is currently attending Florida’s second Junior Day this weekend in Gainesville, FL and intends to enroll at UF in January (as does Lane).
Taylor’s commitment was first reported by Andrew Spivey of Gator Country.
1 » After only giving up two points in their first five matches this season (both to No. 5 Baylor), No. 1 Florida Gators women’s tennis (5-1) was rocked Sunday by the No. 2 Stanford Cardinal (4-0) 5-2 at the Taube Tennis Center in Stanford, CA. Florida, which ended Stanford’s 184-match home winning streak while winning the 2011 NCAA Championship a year ago, had its own 26-match winning streak broken on Sunday. The Cardinal swept the Gators in doubles competition with No. 1 duo Mallory Burdette and Nicole Gibbs thrashing sophomore Alexandra Cercone and junior Allie Will 8-3. Stacey Tan and Ellen Tsay beat junior Lauren Embree and sophomore Sofie Oyen 8-3 as well. Will (3) got a form of redemption in singles action, beating Gibbs (5) 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Burdette (1), looking for revenge of her own after being beaten for the title one year ago, got just that on Embree (25) by taking her down 6-1, 6-2 in straight sets. Oyen (34) was the only other ranked Florida player to win her match by defeating Ellen Tsay (31) as senior Joanna Mather (4) and Cercone (41) both fell in singles action. UF will play two more non-conference matches before heading into SEC competition.
2 » Suffering a similarly tough loss over the weekend, No. 4 Gators lacrosse (0-1) fell on the road against the No. 3 North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0), fighting back from a 7-3 halftime deficit to lose 11-9. Florida took an early 2-0 lead on North Carolina, but the Tar Heels then outscored the Gators 7-1 to end the opening half. Pairs of consecutive goals by junior attackers Ashley Bruns and Kitty Cullen reduced UF’s deficit but even Florida winning the scoring battle 4-1 over the final 12:07 was not enough to put away North Carolina. Bruns and Cullen finished with three goals apiece, but junior goal keeper Mikey Meagher only notched two saves on the afternoon. Midfielder Kara Cannizzaro led UNC with four goals on six shots, and GK Lauren Maksym was stingy in the net, saving 10 goals while only allowing nine. After losing to the Tar Heels in the season opener last year, the Gators exploded on a 14-match winning streak.
3 » Florida will be holding its second Junior Day of the 2013 recruiting cycle on Saturday and is set to host a number of the country’s top prospects, many of whom are strongly considering playing for the Gators after their respective senior seasons. Among them are a trio of four-stars from Lincoln High School in Tallahassee, FL – linebacker James Hearns (No. 157) and wide receivers Reggie Davis (No. 118) and Taj Williams (No. 177). Hearns committed to Florida on Feb. 2, becoming the Gators’ fourth pledge of the cycle. Davis and Williams also have offers from UF but neither has committed yet; the former will be going on his second visit to Gainesville, FL this month while the latter has expressed on Twitter that he hopes to play for the orange and blue down the line. Other big-time recruits expected to be on campus Saturday are five-star offensive lineman No. 3 Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, FL) and four-stars LB commit No. 53 Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), defensive tackle commit No. 82 Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL), defensive back No. 39 Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL), WR No. 45 Stacy Coley (Oakland Park, FL), four-star running back No. 90 Ryan Green (St. Petersburg, FL), DB No. 94 Nick Washington (Jacksonville, FL), RB No. 111 Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and WR No. 234 Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, FL)…just to name a few. UF believes it is in a great position to add a number of commits by the weekend’s end.
4 » Former Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, now head coach of the North Texas Mean Green, remains in hospital Tuesday morning after suffering stroke on Sunday. In an interview with the Des Moines Register, McCarney said he had the stroke after working out but is expected to make a full recovery with no permanent damage lingering. “I’ve got too much Irish in me to stay down very long,” he joked. “I’m supposed to get out of the hospital in a couple days. I feel good right now. I’ve got a little tingling feeling, but hey, if that’s the worst of it, I’d say I’m a pretty lucky guy. Nothing wrong with me that a little Grey Goose won’t cure.” OGGOA wishes Coach McCarney our best wishes as he recovers.
5 » Going 5-0 in the 2012 season’s first weekend, Florida softball received some good news early this week. On Monday, the Gators learned that third baseman Sami Fagan won SEC Freshman of the Week honors after hitting .666 with three RBI, seven runs, two walks and a pair of stolen bases in five games. Florida was then crowned the new No. 1 team in the country (with 16 of 30 first-place votes) when USA Today and the NFCA released their latest coaches’ top 25 poll. Gators softball and baseball are both ranked as the top team in the nation.
6 » Conflicting reports emerged this week about whether or not Tim Davis was actually Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s first choice to be the team’s new offensive line coach. According to a number of stories, including one from ESPN’s Chris Low, Muschamp first reached out to South Carolina Gamecocks running game coordinator and OL coach Shawn Elliot, who turned down Florida even though UF was offering more than his new $300,000 annual salary pays at South Carolina. However, Muschamp himself denied to The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley that he went after Elliot for the position. Regardless of who his first choice was, Davis is the one now wearing orange and blue and looking to improve an offensive line that struggled in performance and development one year ago.