Three-star OL Mike Horton commits to Florida

Still replenishing its 2015 recruiting class after losing four commitments in a 10-day span earlier this month, the Florida Gators on Thursday received a verbal pledge from three-star offensive lineman Mike Horton (Atlanta, GA).

Horton (6-foot-4, 320 pounds), a big-bodied blocker sporting an impressive offer list, was being pegged by most schools as a guard but will also have the opportunity to play defensive tackle for the Gators.

“[Head coach Will Muschamp] tells me every day that he wants me in the program. Before, he said they were recruiting me for offensive line, but then, we got a chance to talk,” Horton told Jake Reuse of UGASports.com back on June 9 ($).

“He said, ‘We’ll take you on defense, too.’ I told him I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to play yet, but he said he just wants me in. The biggest thing he’s emphasizing is that they have slots open, and I will have a great opportunity to play early.”

Horton, who ESPN rates as a four-star prospect and the No. 246 overall player in the 2015 class, chose Florida primarily over Georgia, though he also had scholarship offers in his back pocket from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and LSU, among others.

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FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

1 » Just a couple days after voicing his belief in the talent and potential of former Florida Gators running back Chris Rainey, Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano was forced to waive the player for non-football reasons. “You can see the athleticism, the burst, the speed,” he said Saturday. “He puts a foot in the ground and gets north and south.” Pagano is expected to address the situation after training camp on Monday, though it is doubtful that he will detail what specific conduct rule that Rainey violated. It will be the second time in as many offseasons that Rainey will be released by a team for non-football reasons. Just one year ago, Rainey was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after an arrest for domestic violence, a charge that was later dropped and expunged from his record. The Steelers also had concerns about Rainey’s off-field activity including a gambling habit that affected him during his rookie season.

2 » Updating an item from Friday, former Gators safety Will Hill spoke with the media about being signed by the Baltimore Ravens, claiming once again that “everything is behind me” in terms of his marijuana use. “[I was] just being irresponsible,” he said, according to the Baltimore Sun’s Aaron Wilson. “Yeah, I feel like I’ve learned. I’m ready to play football. [The Ravens] talked to the [New York] Giants and they had nothing but good words to say about me.” Apparently Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome sat down with Hill and was assured that the player’s drug use – which has been an issue since he started playing at Florida – is now in the back window. “It was just getting comfortable with each other and letting him know that the things that happened before won’t be happening here,” Hill added. Though he will be able to practice with the team and play in preseason games, Hill will not be activated for the 2014 regular season until Oct. 13 as he must first serve a six-game suspension, his third for drug use (second for a substance of abuse) since being signed by the Giants three years ago.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Rainey, Hill, ESPN 300, Demps

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Previewing Florida’s 2014 Friday Night Lights


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 host top-tier prospects over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough while coaching up the recruits.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 25, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL) –
One of the top offensive tackles in the nation, Ivey is down to Florida and Auburn. His trip to Friday Night Lights should help him feel more comfortable with the Gators, but he will not make a decision until he sees how UF plays in 2014 and determines whether the coaching staff recruiting him will be around next year. A big Florida fan, the Gators are ultimately the team to beat for his services but can just as easily beat themselves and send him across the conference to play for the Tigers.

ATH Ray-Ray McCloud (Tampa, FL) –
McCloud has set his commitment announcement for Monday at 6:30 p.m., and his decision to spend the weekend before that choice is made in Gainesville speaks volumes. Florida is the favorite to pick up one of the most talented athletes in the country but is in competition primarily with UCLA and Clemson. He plays running back, wide receiver and cornerback and will likely do so for the Gators, but as is the case with Ivey, will be keeping an eye on how the team performs in 2014 even if he does choose UF.

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2015 QB Sheriron Jones commits to Florida

The Florida Gators are obviously making an effort to bring in talented and athletic dual-threat quarterbacks with its most recent addition, 2015 four-star Sheriron Jones (Moreno Valley, California), committing to the program on Sunday afternoon after spending the weekend attending a camp in Gainesville, Florida.

A versatile athlete from the same high school as former Gators defensive standout Ronald Powell, Jones is the third highly-acclaimed signal caller to make a pledge for Florida in the last two recruiting cycles and first California prospect since Powell in 2010 to decide to play college football at UF.

Five-star freshman Will Grier joined the program for spring practice in January, and four-star incoming freshman Treon Harris is set to arrive on campus in the summer.

Jones (6-foot-2, 189 pounds) was offered by the Gators in the spring and chose UF primarily over Arizona, Colorado and Tennessee. He was recruited by offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and running backs coach Brian White, who is responsible for prospects in the state of California.

Three-star offensive lineman Tyler Jordan (Jacksonville, Florida) also had a heavy hand in Jones’s recruitment; the two have grown close throughout the process.

Jones is the ninth member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class but just the second four-star prospect to jump into the fold. He is the second-highest rated commitment overall at No. 243 on the Rivals250 behind only four-star defensive back Marcus Lewis (Washington, D.C.) at No. 84 overall.

CommitmentPos.RivalsESPNOverall
» Cleveland, OH | Story
» Height: 6'1" | Weight: 206 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/11/2014
OT36/68
» Moreno Valley, CA | Story
» Height: 6'2" | Weight: 189 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 6/8/2014
QB243/216
» Cincinnati, OH | Story
» Height: 6'6" | Weight: 264 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/25/14
OLNR/NR
» Jacksonville, FL | Story
» Height: 6'5" | Weight: 270 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/22/14
OTNR/107
» Franklinton, LA | Story
» Height: 5'11" | Weight: 175 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/30/14
WRNR/145
» Atlanta, GA | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 320 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/31/14
O/DLNR/246
» Tallahassee, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 220 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 2/26/14
TENR/NR
» Dade City, FL | Story
» Height: 6'3" | Weight: 285 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 5/29/14
DTNR/NR
» Neptune Beach, FL | Story
» Height: 6'4" | Weight: 198 lbs.
» Commitment Date: 7/29/2014
WRNR/NR

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Gators add CB/ATH Jalen Julius to 2015 class

The Florida Gators on Wednesday added their third defensive back pledge of the 2015 recruiting cycle, gaining a verbal commitment from a fast-rising local product in speedy athlete Jalen Julius (Orlando, Florida).

Unranked and unrated by Rivals.com, Julius was offered by the Gators on March 23 and took just over one month to come to his decision, telling recruiting analyst Blake Alderman that he chose UF over Auburn, Ohio State and Tennessee after he and his family came to a unanimous decision.

“Florida has a great environment. My aunt knows Coach T-Rob [Travaris Robinson] on the staff and my mom likes Florida and then I like Florida,” he told Alderman at InsidetheGators.com ($). “I think the team has good chemistry and the coaches are easy going. It’s a good place for me because my connections with them.”

Primarily an offensive player during his first three years of high school, Julius (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) is considered an athlete and committed to the Gators as a cornerback. He is also a likely candidate for kick and punt returner. [Highlights]

Former Florida CB Keiwan Ratliff is Julius’s 7-on-7 coach and has been training him on the defensive side of the ball.

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Gators add pledge from 2015 TE Camrin Knight

The recruiting hot streak the Florida Gators are on coming out of Junior Day continued on Wednesday with tight end/linebacker Camrin Knight (Tallahassee, FL) choosing to continue his career two hours south of his hometown in Gainesville, FL.

“Committed to the University of Florida Proud to be part of the #GatorNation #Blessed #CHOMPCHOMP,” he wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday night.

A dual-sport athlete who is also a star on the Lincoln High School basketball team, Knight (6-foot-4, 220 lbs.) received a flurry of offers this month with interest coming in from Georgia Tech, Eastern Carolina, Cincinnati and Maryland. He visited Florida for Junior Day last weekend.

Knight, who was recruited by tight ends coach Derek Lewis and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, has spent most of his high school career playing linebacker but played some tight end as a junior and projects better as a high-upside offensive playmaker.

He is the Gators’ fifth 2015 commitment, all five of which are from the state of Florida. UF has received four of those pledges in the last six days.

Three of Florida’s five commitments – defensive back Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL), offensive lineman Tyler Jordan and wide receiver Deondre Farrier (Orlando, FL) – are rated as three-star recruits by Rivals.com. The other two, Knight and WR Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, FL), are unranked as of press time.

As a result, the Gators’ recruiting class is currently ranked 28th by Rivals.com. Florida and Miami are the only two of 15 programs with five or more commitments to have none of those five players ranked higher than a three-star prospect by the recruiting service.

Analysts with a number of recruiting services tell OnlyGators.com that many 2015 prospects are still awaiting evaluation.

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2015 WR prospect Tristan Payton picks Florida

For the third time in the last four days, the Florida Gators have added a prospect to their 2015 recruiting class as unranked wide receiver Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, FL) committed to join the program on Monday.

Payton received his Florida offer when he attended Junior Day in Gainesville, FL on Saturday and made his mind up soon afterwards.

The Jacksonville product from First Coast High School is the third player from his city to commit to the Gators this cycle. He joins three-stars defensive back Deontai Williams (Trinity Christian High School) and offensive lineman Tyler Jordan (Bishop Kenny High School) as Florida pledges.

Payton (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), who was recruited by wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, also had offers from Kentucky and UCF with Auburn, Louisville and Ohio State all reportedly showing interest as well.

Aside from Jordan, who committed on Saturday, the Gators also picked up a pledge from three-star WR Deondre Farrier (Orlando, FL) on Friday. Florida’s 2015 class is now at four players, all local in-state prospects.

Payton’s commitment was first reported by InsidetheGators.com‘s Blake Alderman.

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2015 OL Tyler Jordan commits to the Gators

For the second time in as many days, the Florida Gators have increased the size of their 2015 recruiting class as three-star offensive tackle Tyler Jordan (Jacksonville, FL) committed to the program.

The third member of Florida’s slowly but surely growing class, Jordan was offered by the Gators on Feb. 10 and visited Gainesville, FL the very next weekend. When he returned on Saturday for Junior Day, his mind was made up.

Jordan (6-foot-5, 270 pounds) has been racking up offers as of late, fielding calls from Miami, South Carolina, Georgia, Ohio State, Stanford and others over the last 30 days.

He is expected to be elevated to a four-star rating when Rivals releases its new rankings.

All three of UF’s 2015 pledges are from the state of Florida. Three-star defensive back Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL) committed on Jan. 9, and three-star wide receiver Deondre Farrier (Orlando, FL) came to his decision on Feb. 21.

Jordan’s commitment was first reported by 247Sports.com’s Luke Stampini.

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