Posted: 11:36 am Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Inside Look — University of Florida 

By Post Staff

The Gators have had the top one or two recruiting classes in each of the past two seasons. They have another excellent class in 2008, but their Signing Day is not without a few hiccups.

The Gators have 22 commitments so far – including four five-star recruits – but has lost out on two solid prospects today.

Lakeland-Lake Gibson center Ricky Barnum signed with Michigan after switching allegiances at the last moment, and Melbourne-Palm Bay DB Ramon Buchanan chose the Canes over the Gators.

Rivals.com dropped the Gators from 1 to 3 in their latest rankings.


But the Gators did manage to keep five-star defensive tackle Omar Hunter (Buford, Ga.), who was rumored to be considering Notre Dame.

And with another top-flight recruiting class led by New Jersey athlete Will Hill, the Gators’ cupboard should be stocked for many years to come.

Their biggest needs are in the secondary, and Jamie Newberg of Scout.com is a big fan of the talent Urban Meyer is collecting: Hill, Pahokee’s Janoris Jenkins, Dee Finley from Alabama, Adrian Bushell from Texas and Jeremy Brown from Orlando-Boone.

The Gators are also still in the running for Tallahassee-Lincoln cornerback T.J. Bryant and Miami-Booker T. Washington cornerback Brandon Harris, both four-star recruits.

“Their big need this year was in the secondary, and they definitely get an A-plus on that,” Newberg said. “I can certainly see Will Hill, if not starting, in the two-deep rotation by day one. He’s Reggie Nelson. He’s got great range at the safety position but he hits like a linebacker.”

Hunter is a big-time prospect at defensive line and should make immediate contributions. Matt Patchan, a 6-foot-7 offensive lineman from Seffner-Armwood, needs to add weight to his 265-pound frame but was a great signing by Meyer. Carl Moore, a 6-foot-4 receiver from California, is the Gators’ other five-star recruit.

The Gators only have one true running back prospect – Groveland-South Lake’s Jeff Demps – but don’t necessarily need a top-flight running back with USC transfer Emmanuel Moody set to play this fall.

“I think it’s disappointing they didn’t get a big time running back and they’ve struggled over the past couple of years with that position,” Newberg said. “But Jeff Demps is potentially a future Olympian. He is arguably the fastest player in the country at the running back position.”

And though the Gators have lost out on a couple players so far, Gator fans will be happy with Meyer’s recruiting haul.

” They should be top in the nation unless Alabama gets Julio Jones, but other than that I think they’ll be number one two years in a row,” longtime national recruiter Larry Blustein said.