Last season, Florida State finished first or second, depending on the source, while Florida finished in the top five and UCF even landed in the Top 40 for the first time. In 2010, Florida had the top class in the nation, with FSU hovering around the top 10.
FSU has kept its momentum from Jimbo Fisher’s first class with a pair of stud commitments at defensive end headlining the 13 commitments.
Dante Fowler Jr. (St. Petersburg Lakewood), and Mario Edwards (Denton, Texas, Ryan) both rank in the Top 10 of most recruiting services overall lists and are both 5-star players by Rivals.com.
The ’Noles also have four 4-star commitments. FSU still has yet to land a wide receiver in this recruiting phase, although they do have some young talent there. They could use a couple of offensive lineman to bulk up that area.
The defensive future looks good, especially with just three seniors on the three-deep depth chart. Edwards and Fowler form a solid foundation up front, and Mobile (Ala.) Faith Academy’s Chris Casher will add to the stacked rotation of defensive ends that starts with Brandon Jenkins and either Bjoern Werner or Tank Carradine on the other side. Dalvon Stuckey of De Funiak Springs and J.T. Hamilton of Orlando Olympia provide solid DT depth.
The ‘Noles could use some DB depth since S Terrance Parks is a senior and junior CB Greg Reid will likely head for the NFL.
Players to watch for FSU are: Orlando Oak Ridge ATH Guito Ervilus, DB Deon Bush of Miami Columbus, Yulee TE Kelvin Rainey, and receiver prospects Marvin Bracy of Orlando Boone, Stefon Diggs of Olney, Md., Dorial Green-Beckham of Springfield, Mo., and Miami Northwestern WR Amari Cooper.
Florida is putting together an impressive class, as well, as coach Will Muschamp heads into his first season. The Gators have no 5-star players, yet, but nine of the 13 commitments are considered 4-star by Rivals. And if some players come through, the Gators are flirting with the top spot again.
UF likes committed RBs Mike Davis (Stone Mountain, Ga., Stephenson) and Matt Jones (Seffner Armwood) and is set at the position. Latroy Pittman is a flashy athlete out of Citra North Marion who will provide spark at receiver or in the slot.
Like FSU, there are just three seniors on the Gators entire defensive three-deep.
Offensively, Florida needs some big-gun receivers. Quinton Dunbar and Stephen Ali may emerge and Pittman has decent size, but the Gators could use an Avery Johnson-type. Johnson appears to be souring on his LSU commitment. Offensive line could use some backing, as well.
Florida players to watch are: WR Chris Black of Jacksonville First Coast, TE Kent Taylor of Land ‘O Lakes, TE Kelvin Rainey of Yulee, OL John Theus of Jacksonville Bolles, S Marcus Maye of Melbourne Central Catholic, OL Evan Goodman of Lakeland, DE Tyriq McCord of Tampa Jefferson, OT Patrick Miller of Palm Beach Gardens Dwyer and a pair of North Carolina players in OL D.J. Humphries of Charlotte Mallard Creek, and DE Jonathan Bullard of Shelby (N.C.) Crest..
Miami is racking up the recruits in Al Golden’s first season. The Hurricanes in-state list is very impressive and while UM has no 5-stars yet, seven players are listed by Rivals with 4-stars.
The in-staters start with a trio out of Miami Norland in stud RB Duke Johnson, LB Keith Brown and OL Ereck Flowers (3-star). DE Jelani Hamilton out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas was a huge pick-up last week, as was WR D’Mauri Jones of Leesburg. WR Angelo Jean-Louis of Palm Beach Central, Lakeland Lake Gibson DE Trent Taylor and DB Amos Leggett of Homestead are also stars in the making. LB Reggie Northrup of Jacksonville First Coast and TE Brandon Holifield of Tallahassee Godby added their names to the commitment list on Tuesday to give the Hurricanes 19 commitments to the 2012 class.
Interestingly, the ‘Canes have accepted commitments from three 3-star quarterbacks in Gray Crow of Clearwater Countryside, David Thompson of Miami Westminster Christian and Preston Dewey out of Austin (Texas) St. Andrew’s Episcopal. This movement to the taller, pro-style quarterback shows what sort of offense Golden is looking to run in the Hurricanes’ future.
Players to watch for the Hurricanes are LB James Burgess of Homestead, TE Kelvin Rainey of Yulee, WR Amari Cooper of Miami Northwestern.
Of the other state schools, USF has an impressive list of Florida players, TE Sean Price of Citra North Marion and Plant City WR LaMarlin Wiggins, who committed on Tuesday, are the top players of eight recruits. No big-timers here, but some flat ballers with speed, like DB Chris Bivins of Gainesville and Rayshawn Jenkins of St. Pete Admiral Farragut.
USF is also high on Winter Park WR Dvario Montgomery and have given the No. 1 player in Central Florida the royal treatment upon every visit to Tampa. This battle will come down between the rivals Bulls and UCF, but don't count out a team like Alabama. The Tide could be making a secret surge.
UCF, FIU and FAU all have one commitment each, which is typical of the slow-starting Owls andPanthers.
UCF will only sign about 10-12 players in February because of the load of nearly 30 players the Knights picked up last season. Several players to watch are local, indluding Montgomery, and then there is Orlando Edgewater WR Alton ‘Pig’ Howard, two big-time prospects whom UCF officials consider the make-or-break athletes of the recruiting class. WR Drico Johnson of Orlando Agape Christian is another on the list. Receiver is a key position of need for the Knights.
Edgewater safety Karl Joseph is also a strong UCF candidate, as is Orlando Oak Ridge ATH Andre Scott, and the Knights just offered Jupiter Christian quarterback Kedric Bostic, and Homestead DB Herb Watters still has UCF in his top five teams.
Chris Hays is the Sentinel's recruiting coverage coordinator and can be reached at email@example.com.