FOUR BITS: early enrollees, Dowling, Outback

By Adam Silverstein
January 9, 2011

1 » Though National Signing Day is nearly a month away, half of the Florida Gators current 2011 commitments have already enrolled at the University of Florida for the spring semester. Five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), four-star tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) and kicker/punter Kyle Christy (Brownburg, IN) will all be taking classes at UF by Monday. The Gators have eight more commitments to sign in the first week of February and have more than half a dozen spaces to fill before then.

2 » Five-star 2010 commitment S Jonathan Dowling, who was kicked off the Florida football team in November due to a violation of team rules, recently decided to transfer to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and is petitioning the NCAA for a waiver so he does not have to miss another season. According to the Bradenton Herald, new Gators head coach Will Muschamp “made a last-ditch effort” to get Dowling back on the team but was rebuffed even though the player reportedly passed his first semester of classes.

3 » Some believed that Florida did not necessarily deserve the opportunity to play in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to their regular season performance but apparently the committee knew exactly what they were doing in scheduling them to face the equally underwhelming Penn State Nittany Lions The Outback Bowl drew a 7.6 overnight rating on ABC, up 105 percent from the 2010 contest between Northwestern and Auburn (3.7 on ESPN) and up 171 percent from the 2008 game which featured South Carolina and Iowa (2.8 on ESPN). UF-PSU drew the highest overnight rating for a non-BCS college football bowl game on broadcast television since 2008, according to SportsBusiness Daily, and even out-drew the 2011 Fiesta Bowl later that night (6.7).

4 » Four-star WR Kelvin Benjamin, a long-time Gators target who was scheduled to visit Florida next week after Muschamp initially convinced him to delay his decision, committed to the Florida State Seminoles over the weekend and will no longer take a trip to Gainesville, FL. Benjamin, who was choosing between the big three colleges in Florida, is considered an impressive WR prospect and adds yet another big name to head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s 2011 recruiting class.


  1. GatorCooken says:

    FSU looking scary good this year with recruiting.

    As for Dowling, I wish him well at WKU, but still a puzzling mystery as to why he left. I know it was a violation of team rules but did anything concrete come up Adam?

  2. Gatorguy11 says:

    It would be nice to have Dowling back. He was a very impressive player. Seems like last years coaching staff wasnt a big fan of his considering the trouble many others got into and had the chance to come back.

  3. Gatorguy11 says:

    Adam, do you by chance have any news on watkins, Anthony, steward, Bellamy, and othe big time targets by UF?

  4. Gatorgrad79 says:

    What the heck! Why are we still losing recruits!? All I can say is the fsu coaches must be silver tongue devils. I’m beginning to wish we had gone ahead and made our coaching change last year instead of going through this now and having a second year of perceived instability.

  5. El Meester says:

    Anthony said he really enjoyed his visit this past weekend. Watkins will be visiting, but he’s wasting our time…claims he’s fully committed to Clemson.

  6. Gatorguy11 says:

    Oh okay, do you think we can pull in Watkins, steward, and/or jernigan?

  7. El Meester says:

    ^^ I’d be interested to hear what Adam thinks, but my guesses are: Anthony–GATOR; Grant–GATOR; Watkins–Clemson; Steward–Close, but FSU; Jernigan–GATOR (maybe wishful thinking)

  8. Ken says:

    Nice to get these guys locked in. I am still waiting for some good news on the recruiting front. It sounds like most of the top guys that were leaning our way have gone to FSU or elsewhere.

  9. Gatorbuc15 says:

    I wish Jonathan Dowling the best of luck at Western Kentucky. It’s ashame we couldn’t keep him. Oh well.

  10. John S. says:

    Damn…FSU is killing it. Wish Benjamin would have met with Weis before making a decision.

    Any chance that the unthinkable happens…Miles to Michigan and Jimbo and company to LSU?

  11. joe says:

    I am still waiting to see someone decommit from Texas and commit to UF to follow Muschamp. Hopefully Will has a few in his pocket that wiil show up Feb 2.

  12. DGLgatorfan says:

    @ Gatorgrad79 s

    Who did the Gators lose? Benjamin was thought to be a gator lean but that dont mean much. I wish him the best just not against us of course.

    I believe the gators class will rank anywhere between 7-14th doubt they will pull in a top 5 class and that won’t be the end of the world. I think next year is where the new staff will really pay off.

  13. GG says:

    I also expect that to happen with Texas but nothing is firm till Feb 2. Maybe we can flip some guys once we get coaches in place. Need some dlineman, especially defensive ends. Think we have only signed 2 or 3 in the last couple of years excluding guys like Powell that will grow into the position.
    Looking back Urban’s first class, not that great. Hope we can get some momentum fast.

  14. ulysses1221 says:

    Its a dissapointment that we are loosing all this recruits,
    but who can really assure us that just cause they were great in
    high school, that they are going to be great in collge, and the way
    i see it, is that if you dont want to be a gator, then go somewhere
    else. Its going to be a great year and expect alot of great things
    from this coaching staff. #1 recruiting class next year, i can
    assure you of that. GREAT TO BE A GATOR

  15. steelgators says:

    Adam, look forward to you getting on the recruiting trail,
    your updates are the best and right on point. Losing Benjamin
    hurts, but if you are not smart enough to pick the Gators over the
    other school, than you are not smart enough for our team and we
    don’t need you!! Good ridence in my humble opinion. Adam when you
    get into this week, just curious what the word is on a one time big
    lean to the Gators from the left coast in Junior Pomee? I know he
    is really close with Powell, and he lit it up at FNL. At 6’3″ and
    210 with his speed(4.6) and hands, I think he could be a great go
    to reciever in any offense. He has kinda dropped off the radar, but
    checking him on rivals/espn, he still has us listed. Go

  16. Gatorguy11 says:

    What about chickillo? Lynch? I can’t wAit to hear recruting

  17. Mr2Bits says:

    Losing Benjamin was not a surprise. To be honest we really
    dont need another WR in the class, Sammy would be huge pick up that
    we couldn’t resist being one of the top WR in the class. We’re
    getting 2 great WR in Story and McRoy. Story has a lot of potential
    down the road he is a tall and athletic WR with great hands. McRoy
    brings speed to the table. Sammy brings all of these talents to the
    table. The good news about Sammy is that Clemson just hired
    ex-Tulsa spread guru Morris and Sammy has been vocal about not
    wanting to play in a spread offense. I feel the orange he is
    wearing will change by NSD. There arent really any more WR that we
    are going after cause we are so stacked at WR on the Roster. This
    is from the top of my head: Deonte Frankie Hammond Andre Debose
    Chris Dunkley Dunbar Solmon Patton O Hines Robert Clark Alli
    (forgot his first name) Add two let alone 3 more names to that
    list, that’s a lot of depth at the WR. Outside of that, we had some
    really good visits this weekend one being Chickillo who rated it a
    10. We will without a doubt have a top 10 class by this time next
    month. Everyone needs to take some deep breaths here and not panic
    just because you see Bama or FSU attached to some of these

  18. Gatorgrad79 says:

    NO offensive line recruits higher than 3 star?? We need muscle and mean up front!!

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