The Florida Gators may have lost their prize commitment of the 2010 cycle in five-star safety Matt Elam (West Palm Beach, FL), but the Orange and Blue gained declarations from two of the top players in the country on Saturday during the 2010 Under Armour All-American Game. Four-star wide receiver Chris Dunkley (Pahokee, FL) and four-star defensive tackle Dominique Easley (Staten Island, NY) both put on Gators hats to the delight of Gator Nation.
Though Dunkley had long been considered a Florida lean and possible silent commitment, he had been toying with the idea of committing to the Alabama Crimson Tide and was slightly taken aback by the announcements from Gators head coach Urban Meyer this week. Instead, he said that he was a mama’s boy, wanted to stay in-state and loved the program. “I was real, real, real happy and revealed to make my decision to play for the University of Florida,” Dunkley said after the game. “There was a moment [I wavered],” Dunkley said. “I know [Meyer]‘s working to take care of himself. I’ve got to do what’s right for me.”
“I’ve built a relationship with almost everybody on the team,” Dunkley told ESPN. So it’s like me going, basically, back to a home away from home. All the teammates are like my brothers, so everything feels comfortable there. I have been waiting to get this off of my chest for a long time. I fit in perfect. [Freshman WR Andre] Debose and I both do. I have gotten to know him well and we talk all the time. I talk to John Brantley all the time, too. Like I said, it’s like I’ve been on the team for a while. I am going in to compete. All the coaches at Florida know that. All of the players know that.”
Easley, who decommitted from the Penn State Nittany Lions on Wednesday, was the real shocker of the day. Named one of the game’s most valuable players after recording a sack, forced fumble and three tackles for loss, he was believed to be choosing between recommitting to Penn State or joining the Miami Hurricanes or Oregon Ducks. The Gators were not even on Easley’s list of final choices, though he was originally planning to commit to Florida during his visit to Gainesville, FL, for Friday Night Lights camp in July. “I’m a Gator, baby, Gator Nation,” Easley said, before doing one of numerous Gator Chomps on the day. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was Easley’s main recruiter, and his appointment to interim head coach for Florida may very well have had some pull on Easley.
“I knew that no matter what, whether it’s Coach Addazio or Coach Meyer, they’re good coaches and they coach the same way,” Easley told Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel. “I’ve known I wanted to be a Gator for a while now.” Easley also spoke with Rivals. “I always wanted to be a Gator,” Easley said. “I always wanted to be a Gator in this recruiting class but something happened but me and the coaches talked through it and I am back where I want to be, where I should be. We are going to do some great things.”
Also participating in the Under Armour game on Saturday were the following Gators four-star commitments: running back Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA), four-star safety Demar Dorsey (Lauderdale Lakes, FL), four-star athlete Jonathan Dowling (Bradenton, FL), four-star defensive tackle Leon Orr (New Port Richey, FL), four-star WR Solomon Patton (Mobile, AL), four-star cornerback Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL), four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, CA) and four-star offensive tackle Ian Silberman (Fleming Island, FL). Dowling nabbed two interceptions in the game, Dorsey grabbed one of his own and Patton scored a receiving touchdown.
Though he has been committed to Florida for a while, Dorsey said earlier in the week that he was only 65 percent going to play for the Gators. That has since changed. “I’m a Gator. I’m a Gator,” Dorsey told Hays. As to the part he played in convincing Dunkley and Easley to join him in Gainesville, Dorsey knew it was a done deal. “Awe we knew [Dunkley] was coming,” he said. “We knew he was going to be a Gator but we were on him hard. And Dominique and me, we became like brothers, we’d be in each other’s rooms and hanging out a lot.”
Five-star DE Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA), who did not participate in the Under Armour game, was planning to commit to the Gators earlier this week on ESPN but decided to postpone his announcement after Meyer’s flip-flop so he could reconsider his options. It is unknown if Easley’s commitment is an indication that Powell is now leaning toward the USC Trojans (his other choice) or if it is mutually exclusive.
Photo Credits: Sun-Sentinel, Davide De Pas