National Signing Day has come and gone and four of the major universities in the state of Florida did an outstanding job of not only filling needs with talented prospects, but also receiving letters of intent from good character students who look to make their new destinations proud. I’m going to break down these schools and their prospects…
University of South Florida
The Bulls typically get FSU and UF’s leftovers, but the South Florida staff has gotten extremely aggressive the past few seasons, stealing top defensive end recruit Ryne Giddens from Florida last season and ripping top cornerback Terrance Mitchell this season from Florida State. Mitchell is the top recruit in this class for USF and I expect him to compete for immediate playing time. Todd Chandler, from Miami, Florida, was once a University of Miami commitment, but signed his letter of intent with the Bulls. If Skip Holtz can establish a relationship with in the south Florida region, he’ll continue to build solid recruiting classes. The talent down there is unbelievable. Jamius Gunsby from LaGrange, Georgia, didn’t have the biggest offer sheet, but this kid can no doubt play quarterback. Rivals has South Florida ranked 64th and Scout has them ranked 50th. Don’t let these rankings discourage. This is a good 1st class for Holtz and they’ll only get better.
University of Miami
The ‘Canes are known for bringing in top tier talent without even trying and this season is no different. They can recruit central and south Florida and easily compete in the ACC, but if they want to make a splash on the national level they have to be able to get the elite talent from both the state of Florida and the nation. Offensive lineman Brandon Linder is the top prospect in this seasons class. Linder is a physical specimen (6’6”, 290 lbs) and can play any position on the offensive line. His St. Thomas Aquinas teammate, Keion Payne, is a big cornerback and has the tools to face some of the taller wide outs in college. Running back Storm Johnson is a man among boys. This young athlete looks NFL ready now with his physical stature and speed. Expect him to be the opening day starter if Greg Cooper struggles rehabbing from his knee injury. Rivals ranks UM 24th and Scout has them at 17th. This’ll be the class critic’s look back at if Shannon fails a year or two from now.
Florida State University
The Seminoles seem to have a knack for recruiting incredible high school athletes that don’t pan out. Whether it’s coaching or the player, new head coach Jimbo Fisher is making it his mission to get these kids prepared for the collegiate level. Linebacker Christian Jones is the prized jewel of this seasons class. This kid is a beast of a football player. Size, speed, moves laterally with ease, and will absolutely lay the lumber on opposing running backs. Problem is he’s a big kid (6’4”, 220) and may grow into a defensive end. Regardless, it’s a good problem to have. Lamarcus Joyner from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is considered to be one of the top 1 or 2 cornerbacks in the nation and is such a phenomenal athlete; most expect this young dynamo to play both sides of the ball. An intriguing prospect is defensive lineman Bjoern Werner. Werner hails from Germany and came to the United States three years ago as part of an international exchange program set up by USA Football. ‘Nole fans are excited to see what this young man will accomplish in the future. Rivals and Scout ranked FSU 10th and ESPN ranked them 6th. Jimbo Fisher put together a great 1st class and most of these kids will contribute in 2010.
University of Florida
Ever hear of the term, “The rich get richer?” Florida pulled in an unbelievable class. Basically, take all of the top talent at pretty much every position and place them at UF. That’s how astonishing this class is for the ’08 National Champs. I’d love to give you a few names like I have for every other school, but literally every prospect has superstar potential. Once Meyer comes back from his leave of absence, he can take his pick of who’ll play and who’ll redshirt, which is not a bad thing at all. The Gator’s depth with be something every school fears. Both ESPN and Rivals consider Ronald Powell out of Moreno Valley, California, the top overall prospect in the nation and he can play multiple positions, including defensive end, linebacker, or tight end. A “freak” sums this kid up. Matt Elam out of West Palm Beach is another athlete who can play many positions. He has been compared to FSU and Buccaneer legend Derrick Brooks, but linebacker is only one of many positions he excels at. Safety may be his final destination, but he is an established running back as well. Rivals has UF ranked 2nd and Scout and ESPN have the Gators as the top recruiting class in the nation. Like I said earlier, Meyer can redshirt all of these kids and it’ll not affect his program. The best athletes will get on the field though.
That’s about it. Check out the aforementioned sites and research your favorite team(s) to learn more about your incoming classes. Just think, only 6 more months until college football starts back up. Ugh…