Gators lose Salt, miss out on Jenkins, Birch

Two days after the football team got arguably their second-best prospect of the 2012 cycle, the Florida Gators‘ two major sports programs suffered a trio of recruiting losses.

Early in the evening it was announced via the major recruiting services that four-star JUCO defensive tackle Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA), who decided on Dec. 18 that he would transfer and play for Florida next year, instead chose to remain closer to home and join the Utah football program. Salt wanted to commit to Utah out of high school but was unable to qualify due to his poor grades.

“It’s just the fact that it’s good to be at home with my family,” he told InsidetheGators.com. “They can come out and see every single game, every home game. It’s right down the street. It was going to be tough for them to come see me play at Florida. There was going to be a lot of money being spent. This is better for them. This is all about them.”

The Gators coaches, though dismayed to lose Salt from their recruiting class, understood the difficulty of his choice and stood behind his change of heart.

“They were really sad about my decision, but they supported me 100 percent,” Salt said. “They really wanted me to come up there. I loved everything about their program, but I had to make a decision about what was best for me. They respected me for putting family first.”

Florida was dealt another recruiting loss shortly thereafter when five-star power forward Khem Birch (Fitchburg, MA), who enrolled at Pittsburgh this year but decided to transfer and narrowed his list down to UF and UNLV, chose the latter program. Birch had a whirlwind recruitment that lasted just about a week and always appeared to be favor UNLV considering the basketball team’s penchant for recruiting Canadians like himself.

Unfortunately for the Gators, Birch is quite close with five-star PF Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV), who Florida is hot after to round out its 2012 recruiting class. Bennett also has UNLV in his final five along with Kentucky, Washington and Oregon.

The Gators hoped to end the day with a commitment from a player the coaches had put a full-court press on this cycle, four-star defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA). Announcing his decision live on FOX Sports South, Jenkins chose Georgia over Florida, Alabama and Auburn, a surprise because UF felt good about their chances.

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JUCO DT Damien Jacobs picks the Gators, too

For the second time in four days the Florida Gators have received a commitment from a four-star JUCO defensive tackle, earning a pledge from Damien Jacobs (Scooba, MS) out of East Mississippi Community College on Wednesday.

“I just joined the Florida Gator Family!” he announced on Facebook.

A soft verbal commitment to Tennessee before changing his mind on junior college national signing day, Jacobs had recently taken visits to Florida, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. He is considered the No. 10 JUCO player in the nation by Rivals.com and was previously a Florida State commitment as a three-star player in 2010.

Jacobs is graduating this semester and will join the Gators in January.

Florida also gained a pledge Sunday from Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA), a 6’3” 340-pound nose tackle who may also see some time on the Gators’ offensive line depending how he performs in practice once he arrives in Gainesville, FL.

Rivals.com ranks Salt as the No. 9 JUCO player in the country, and Florida expects him to join the team in May after he graduates from Mount San Antonio College.

Jacobs is the 18th player to commit to the Gators for 2012 and the fifth defensive lineman. He joins Salt, four-star Dante Phillips (Venice, FL) and three-stars Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) and Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA).

Florida announced Jacobs’s commitment Wednesday afternoon:

Jacobs, a defensive tackle from East Mississippi Community College, was a part of the team that won the 2011 NJCAA Football Championship Game over Arizona Western College. Listed at 6’4” and 310 pounds, he totaled 47 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 4 QB hurries, 2 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries this season for the Lions.

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JUCO DT Visesio Salt commits to the Gators

Looking to add depth along the defensive line, the Florida Gators gained a verbal commitment Sunday from four-star JUCO defensive tackle Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA).

Nicknamed “Junior,” Salt confirmed his commitment to ESPN.com, which notes that he will be utilized as a nose tackle in part due to his 6’3” 340-pound frame. He can also play offensive guard and could be moved to that side of the ball depending how he performs in practice once he arrives in Gainesville, FL.

He is listed as the No. 9 JUCO player in the country, according to Rivals.com, and is expected to join Florida in May after graduating from Mount San Antonio College.

Salt is the 17th player to commit to the Gators for 2012 and the fourth defensive lineman. He joins four-star DT Dante Phillips (Venice, FL), three-star defensive end Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA) and three-star DT Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA).

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