Four-star TE Kent Taylor commits to Gators

Two days after losing a second-year tight end due to transfer, the Florida Gators picked up the top player at the position nationally in the 2012 recruiting class.

In front of friends and family at Land O’Lakes High School, four-star TE Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) committed to the Gators on Thursday during a ceremony in which he received his jersey for the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“It was just about where I am going to get used and the best place to play early,” he told InsidetheGators.com on Oct. 4 when his mind was made up. “It was a place where I felt I could have the whole experience of education, football, socially, and spiritually.”

Taylor – a 6’5”, 220 lbs. pass-catcher who is the ideal player for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s system – chose Florida over offers from Florida State, Georgia and Penn State. He is the second tight end to commit to the Gators for 2012.

“I really like Coach Weis’s offense,” Taylor said back in May. “I’ve talked to a couple of people who have played for him and they have all told me you definitely would like to play for Coach Weis.”

Florida already has four-star TE Colin Thompson (Warminster, PA) on board and is likely planning to take a third player at the position, too.

While Taylor is ranked as the No. 1 tight end and 55th best player in the country by Rivals, Thompson is also highly touted at No. 6 and 215th, respectively, by the recruiting service. Their spots are swapped by ESPNU, which has listed Thompson at No. 1 and 85th and Taylor at No. 4 and 147th overall.

Read more, watch a video and check out the commitment list…after the break!
Continue Reading » Four-star TE Kent Taylor commits to Gators

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Report: Floyd’s eligibility hearing held Tuesday

Though it has neither been confirmed by the University of Florida nor the NCAA, a hearing to determine Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s eligibility was reportedly held on Tuesday.

The Gainesville Sun’s Jeff Barlis, who spoke to Floyd’s high school head coach Ron Cohen, reports that Cohen wrote a letter describing “Floyd’s background, his character and what kind of clothing and travel expenses were paid for by Cohen and other members of Floyd’s George Washington High School community,” which was sent to UF and presented at the hearing.

“It was about an hour-and-a-half hearing,” Cohen told the Sun. “They told their side and [the NCAA] listened. Now they have to interpret it and decide how they want to react to it. There was no indication. We just have to wait and see.”

Cohen has been the only party who has spoken about Floyd’s situation and has consistently held that, to his knowledge, the player did nothing wrong in high school that should have his eligibility held in question.

Floyd, one of the nation’s top prospects, was invited to the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl but could not afford the travel costs. In an effort to help him finance the trip, his guidance counselor Dawn Seeger suggested he participate in a bake sale; it raised enough money to send him to San Antonio, TX.

“Supposedly that’s part of it,” Cohen said Tuesday. “That’s why I was questioned. I know the cookie sale was still being brought into it. But again, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I don’t know how it went. They didn’t tell me.”

While at the event, Floyd was one of three top-rated prospects (linebacker Ronald Powell, safety Matt Elam) to commit to the Gators.

Though Cohen has mentioned the bake sale specifically, the NCAA could have other concerns about Floyd’s eligibility. With everyone staying tight-lipped about the situation, more may not be known until a final decision is made – likely in the coming days.

Five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) choosing the Gators

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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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Sharrif Floyd’s remarkable journey, tough decision

Growing up without a lot of money or family structure, it took a lot of luck for Florida Gators 2010 five-star defensive tackle commitment Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) to end up where he is today. He explored that topic along with why he eventually chose Florida over the Ohio State Buckeyes in a conversation on ESPN‘s First Take Wednesday morning. That conversation is transcribed below:

Q: How tough were things for you? What was one of the toughest moments you faced?
SF: “I’d say one of the toughest moments was going to school – elementary school – wearing basically the same three outfits for weeks. Nobody really paid it any mind. I think that was the hardest thing coming up, having to deal with it. Choosing the right way to go – I’d say that was the most important thing for me.”

Q: It would have been easy for you to choose a different path. You had so much instability in your life. Who were the ones that were the guiding forces that made sure [you stayed on your path]?
SF: “I started being guided by someone my sophomore year. My freshman year – actually when I started playing for my high school, George Washington – when I first started it was coach [Ron] Cohen. He’s been there for four years for me now. That freshman year, it was basically just me and him. I did a lot of things on my own. I really wasn’t open with him at first, to start telling him everything that was going on at home. But I did good with showing that there is nothing wrong with the way I am living.”

Read the rest…including why he chose Florida over Ohio State…after the break!
Continue Reading » Sharrif Floyd’s remarkable journey, tough decision

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Elam was “very confused” during his recruitment

It got to the point where some Florida Gators fans had come to the conclusion that he was neither worth their time nor stress nor aggravation. They felt that five-star safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL) should stick by his commitment regardless of what was going on with the program and, more specifically, head coach Urban Meyer. If not – they said – good riddance.

Elam’s decision to bolt for the Florida State Seminoles just before the new year (albeit temporarily) appeared to be the last straw in some fans’ minds. “Enjoy FSU you little media whore,” wrote one OGGOA commenter. “Piss off Elam. You were so worried about having to earn a spot on the team anyhow. Makes me wonder if you are as good as you think,” wrote another. “All I will say is after all of his wavering and ultra cocky attitude of ‘Me, me, me’…he deserves to be a Seminole,” opined a third.

While Elam appeared to be toying with fans, the media and some on the Florida football staff, the freshman Gators safety claims that was never his intention.

“I was very confused. I really didn’t know what to do,” Elam told a group of reporters on Monday. “People think I was playing around, but I really wasn’t. I wanted to do what was best for me, and [to] try to make people happy.”

Now, he looks back on his short commitment to FSU as a mistake, one that he wishes was not captured in photographic form for a spread by the Palm Beach Post.

“I look at [that picture] now, and I start to get sick to my stomach,” he said. “I felt kind of bad – very bad. I should have never turned my back on a commitment, so that’s why I felt bad when I did that, especially to a rival.”

After a conversation with Meyer in which the coach “told me to have trust, to have trust in him,” Elam decommitted from the Seminoles and opened up his options again. It would be less than two weeks from the time he made the switch that Elam would recommit to Florida (along with two other five-star recruits) at the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

“That’s one reason why I committed back, because I saw all these great [defensive] linemen coming in,” Elam said. “Defensive linemen are the reason why safeties and defensive backs get the spotlight. We talk about – all the time – how good we’re going to be. How we’re going be the best defense in the nation and stuff like that, how we’re going to win national championships. We always talk about it.”

As for what he learned from this experience?

“I’m glad it’s over, and I’m glad I’m on campus here and I’m competing and playing,” Elam said with a wide grin. “It was difficult, trying to make people happy. It was very difficult. I’m glad it’s over with. […] I learned that I just have to take care of my own and not worry about what other people [think].”

Photo Credits: OGGOA, Palm Beach Post

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FOUR BITS: Haden’s 40, golf, Prestwood, Floyd

1 » Former Florida Gators cornerback Joe Haden, unanimously considered the best player at his position available for the 2010 NFL Draft before the Scouting Combine, is being criticized by draftniks and supposedly sliding down boards because of his “slow” 4.57-second 40-yard dash. Comments from some like ESPN’s Todd McShay have Haden falling out of the top 10 (never mind the fact that he has a chance to improve it at Florida’s Pro Day on March 17). The time has even spurned beat writers for teams like the Atlanta Falcons to speculate that Haden could fall as low as No. 19. Others, like Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, put Haden’s time in perspective. It’s a bigger deal to those talking about it on television than it is to the NFL scouts hired and fired based on their ability to discern successes from busts.

2 » Florida men’s and womens’ golf each competed at tournaments over the last few days; unfortunately, neither came out as victors. Though they jumped four spots in the final round, the men’s team finished the John Hayt Invitational with a seventh-place score of 899 (+35). The women tied for seventh in the Kinderlou Forest Challenge with a 913 (+37).

Two BITS of Florida Gators football recruiting news after the jump!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Haden’s 40, golf, Prestwood, Floyd

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Florida Gators 2010 National Signing Day notes

Courtesy of the University of Florida’s University Athletic Association:

» The University of Florida football team had 11 student-athletes enroll in January 2010, the highest number in school history.
» The 2010 signing class includes nine players from the South Florida area (Dade, Palm Beach and Broward Counties). In the previous five signing classes combined (2005-09), UF totaled 11 signees from the same area.
» The Gators continued to be a factor on the national stage, signing 12 players from out of state in 2010. Players in the 2010 class are from Alabama, California (3), Connecticut, Georgia (3), Maryland (2), New York and Pennsylvania.
» For the fourth straight year, UF signed a player from the state of California and for the third straight year the Gators signed a player from Alabama. It marked the second-straight year a player from Maryland and Connecticut signed with Florida.
» Of the 12 high school players rated as five-star recruits by ESPN, Florida has signed four. The Gators signed 11 of the top 50 players according to ESPN. Overall, the Gators signed 17 players from the ESPNU 150 list of players.

Check out notes on individual players in the class after the jump…
Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2010 National Signing Day notes

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