Muschamp updates Gators injuries, filling voids

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Wednesday primarily to discuss the new recruiting class on National Signing Day, but he also touched on a number of issues concerning the team with six weeks to go until the start of spring practice on March 19 ahead of the 2014 season.

INJURED STARTERS STILL ON THE MEND

The Gators’ rash of season-ending injuries last season was highlighted by two big losses on the offensive side of the ball – redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (fibula) and junior Matt Jones (knee).

While Driskel is slowly but surely working his way back – Muschamp noted that he has resumed jogging and is expected to be cleared for the start of spring practice – Jones on Wednesday went under the knife for the second of potentially three surgeries to repair a complete radial tear of his meniscus.

Doctors have told Muschamp that Jones’s meniscus was already “90 percent healed,” which puts him “further along” than the initial projection for his return, but he will not be able to suit up in March and remains on target to get back to work in the summer.

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Will Muschamp, coaches discuss Florida Gators 2014 signees, recruiting process

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
2014 Florida signee bios | Gators flip four-star QB Treon Harris from Seminoles, add WR C.J. Worton | Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Florida

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff finished inking its 24-member 2014 recruiting class on National Signing Day. Below are the most notable quotes from that session as well as player evaluations made by other members of the coaching staff.

OPENING STATEMENT

”It’s a great day here at the University of Florida, a lot of hard work put in by our staff. I don’t think people realize the contribution it takes from everybody. It’s a total team effort on campus, professors, our administration, our academic people do a fantastic job. When a young man comes on campus for an official visit, all of the people that have to contribute to make that a special experience, and our people do it the best. Our travel people do an amazing job. All of our pilots, [the media seems] to track pretty well, but they do a phenomenal job. It takes all these moving parts to make things work the right way. So we got a great staff. Our staff did an outstanding job.

“We had a miserable fall, and to have the staff come together – three new coaches in Kurt Roper, Mike Summers and Coleman Hutzler come together and change a little bit, not philosophically, but schematically offensively, adjust some things that we need to do in midstream as far as some of the guys we were recruiting and to put together this class – I’m really proud of that. I don’t know where we ended up as far as any rankings and all. You all know me, I don’t get overly concerned with that.”

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Gators flip four-star QB Treon Harris from Noles, add ex-FSU WR commit C.J. Worton, too

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
Will Muschamp breaks down Gators recruiting class | 2014 Florida signee bios
Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips from Vanderbilt to Florida

When offensive coordinator Kurt Roper accepted the open job with the Florida Gators, four-star quarterback Treon Harris (Miami, FL) immediately became his top recruiting target. On Wednesday, Roper got his man as Harris flipped from Florida State and has decided to play college football at Florida.

Harris (5-foot-11, 180 pounds) is a dual-threat signal caller and unanimous four-star talent. He is ranked No. 69 overall by Rivals.com and No. 163 overall by ESPN.

Committed to the Seminoles since July 8, 2013, Harris was swayed by Roper’s pitch that the Gators’ new up-tempo spread offense will be a better fit for his talents.

He joins four-star Will Grier (Davidson, NC) as the second quarterback to make a pledge for Florida this recruiting cycle.

Grier, an early enrollee, is widely considered the Gators’ next starter behind redshirt junior QB Jeff Driskel. However, no one should discount Harris’s talent and peg him simply as a back-up for the next few seasons.

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Three-star OT Andrew Mike flips to Florida

National Signing Day LIVE COVERAGE page
Will Muschamp breaks down Gators recruiting class | 2014 Florida signee bios
Gators flip four-star QB Treon Harris from Seminoles, add WR C.J. Worton

On the eve of National Signing Day, the Florida Gators landed a commitment from three-star offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, AZ), who just one day earlier made a pledge to play college football at Vanderbilt.

Mike (6-foot-7, 280 pounds) pulled the trigger for VU on Monday; however, a late push from UF resulted in a quick flip Tuesday night.

He officially visited the Gators on Jan. 24, but Florida held off on making a run at locking up his commitment as it was waiting for a decision from five-star OT Damian Prince (Forestville, MD). Prince flirted with UF and was once believed to be leaning towards playing in Gainesville, FL but is expected to commit to Maryland late Wednesday.

The end result is a positive one for Florida, which also snagged Mike over Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, among others.

Mike spoke to Rivals.com’s Rob Cassidy ($) about his “recruiting tornado,” which included late offers and obviously a last-minute decision.

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Florida Gators recruits and targets to watch through 2014 National Signing Day

Updated on Tuesday at 6:15 p.m.

Already 21 members strong, the Florida Gators’ 2014 recruiting class has space to expand and head coach Will Muschamp is looking to do just that over the next few days leading up to and on National Signing Day when the vast majority of uncommitted high school football players across the country announce their decisions.

Be sure to visit OnlyGators.com’s live coverage of National Signing Day beginning Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. It will feature a live chat and be constantly updated throughout the day with every signed National Letter of Intent (NLI) and new commitment.

For now, OnlyGators.com breaks down which players the Gators are still waiting to hear from and when they may learn of their respective decisions while providing some of the latest information and insights on each player.

Special thanks to InsidetheGators.com recruiting analyst Blake Alderman for his assistance with some of the finer details below.

Offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, MD)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 20 overall (No. 2 OT) | ESPN – No. 26 overall (No. 3 OT)
Leaders: Florida, Maryland
Skinny: Prince’s recruitment has heated up as of late. He cut his top three to a final two (removing Penn State) and moved up his announcement date nine days to Feb. 5. Though staying home is a strong consideration in his mind, three big factors have Prince seriously considering – and possibly leaning towards – committing to Florida. His good friend, five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, DC), enrolled early at UF; Prince is a fan of new Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers; and he used his final official visit to travel to Gainesville, FL over the weekend, reportedly coming away impressed. Nevertheless, home is often where the heart is…and Prince may not be leaving.
Announcement: National Signing Day – 10:00 a.m. on ESPNU
Prediction: Maryland | Confidence: 70%

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Florida Gators DE Thaddeus Bullard making his mark as WWE superstar Titus O’Neil

Former Florida Gators defensive end Thaddeus Bullard, a reserve member of the football team from 1997-2000, played in 44 games over the course of his career and was a true student-athlete on campus at the University of Florida.

Bullard won consecutive Goodwill Gator awards in 1998 and 1999, was the primary backup at defensive end in 1999 and 2000 and registered totals of 56 tackles, six sacks and three forced fumbles in his four years. He also served as UF Student Body Vice President beginning in the spring of 2000 through the summer terms.

He then played for four separate Arena Football League teams from 2003-07 before deciding to retire from the game and focus on his family. Two years later, he took up professional wrestling and soon established himself as Titus O’Neil.

O’Neil quickly rose through the ranks of the WWE and is now a featured superstar on the company’s roster and one half of the popular Prime Time Players tag team. Partnered with Darren Young, he hopes to one day become a champion and earn millions of dollars while holding a belt.

Bullard has visited Gainesville, FL twice over the past year, most recently stopping by during the first week of February. He met with the football coaching staff during National Signing Day, hung out with the basketball team and even attended Florida’s big 83-58 win over Mississippi State on Feb. 9.

Bullard sat down with OGGOA for a half hour last month to discuss his most recent stay in Gainesville, his love for the Gators and what fans can expect to see from him in the near future as he continues rise in the WWE.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: What does it feel like for you when you come back to Gainesville now that you have a family to bring with you?
THADDEUS BULLARD / TITUS O’NEIL: “I’ve been back there before with them – to football games and stuff – but now at this point in my career with the WWE, being able to come back is special. I come back as a different person to many that see me, and it’s a great feeling. It’s fun for my kids, too, since they were involved in the process of me coming back as Titus O’Neil on the big stage. They obviously see their dad every week and they have to share me with the world. It’s a different life for us now going out to eat and going different places. Everyone knows dad as ‘Titus O’Neil’ whereas four years ago, daddy was just ‘daddy.’”

Read the rest of OGGOA’s exclusive interview with Thaddeus Bullard…
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2013 P Johnny Townsend winds up at Florida

OL/TE Trevon Young: commit No. 29 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Two/three-star punter Johnny Townsend (Orlando, FL) has become the 30th member of the Florida Gators‘ 2013 recruiting class after sending in his National Letter of Intent to the school on Thursday afternoon.

Townsend, ranked 14th nationally by Rivals and 9th nationally by ESPN among punters, had been committed to Ohio State since June 19, 2012 but did not submit his NLI to the school as expected during National Signing Day on Wednesday.

He was supposed to sign his paper in the morning but twice delayed his press conference before ultimately choosing not to make a decision. His family told reporters that a “personal matter” had sprung up unexpectedly.

Rumors began to circulate during the day that Townsend was considering an offer from Alabama. Late Wednesday evening, Florida reportedly jumped into the picture as team he might sign with on Thursday, a move that ultimately went down when the Gators announced that they had received his signed NLI at 3:30 p.m.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Townsend received separate phone calls on Monday from Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Alabama head coach Nick Saban, both of whom extended scholarship offers to the punter. It was those conversations that made him reconsider his nearly eight-month-long commitment.

Read the rest of this story and watch a video interview with Townsend…
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Gators add OL/TE Trevon Young as commit No. 29

P Johnny Townsend: commit No. 30 | JUCO DT Jarran Reed: commit No. 28 | DT Jay-nard Bostwick: commit No. 27 | Muschamp discusses class; assistants evaluate signees | 30 new player bios | Video interviews with coaches | “Closing”, quarterback situation

Less than a day after the conclusion of National Signing Day, the Florida Gators have added another prospect to their to five-ranked recruiting haul as three-star offensive tackle/tight end Trevon Young (Bradenton, FL) has decided to continue his athletic career as a football player.

Rated only by ESPN, he chose a recent scholarship offer from head coach Will Muschamp over his first love of playing basketball. He has already committed to UF and will sign with the school at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Young was planning to attend Division II school Eckerd College to play basketball before the Gators convinced him to visit campus last Saturday.

According to the Bradenton Herald, Muschamp personally offered Young a scholarship and told him that Florida would like him to start his career at tight end.

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