Florida Gators Nab Big Man Fred Johnson

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The rebuilding of the Florida Gators offensive line continued on Saturday evening.

Hours after flipping FIU commit Richerd Desir-Jones, the Gators gained their second commitment of the day and fifth offensive line commit overall when Fred Johnson (6-6 300) from West Palm Beach (FL) pledged to the Gators.

Johnson chose the Gators over the Miami Hurricanes and becomes the Gators 12th commitment in the 2015 recruiting class.

With five offensive lineman committed the Gators could still take up to three more due to an extreme shortage in depth.

Stay tuned as we close in on signing day on Wednesday February 4th.

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Gators Grab Another Commitment

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On a day where the Florida Gators men’s basketball team reversed a trend of losing close games, the football team nabbed a commitment.

Richerd Desir-Jones (6-4 285), from Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas, a last minute addition to the weekend visit schedule, committed to the Gators on Saturday via Twitter.

He came to UF as an FIU commit without a commitable offer to Florida but left a Gator. He’s listed as a defensive tackle but the Gators recruited him as an offensive guard.

He’s a thick road grader type guard and with the Gators seeking as many as eight lineman in this class, his commitment gets them halfway there.

He was one of five lineman visiting this weekend who are committed to other teams. Gator commits Tyler Jordan, the ringleader of this recruiting class, and guard Brandon Sandifer have been in Gainesville this weekend to help recruit fellow line mates.

The commitment of Desir-Jones gives the Gators 11 this cycle as we head into signing day on Wednesday. The Gators have room for 26 signees.

Dante Fowler’s Class Act

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Dante Fowler came to Florida as one of the jewels of Will Muschamp’s 2012 top five ranked recruiting class. He leaves a potential top ten NFL draft pick.

In between he became another in a longline of Gator greats finishing his three year career with 140 tackles, 33 1/2 tackles for a loss, 14 1/2 sacks, 2 pass breakups, 2 fumble recoveries and 5 forced fumbles.

He also was a fan favorite from the moment he flipped his Florida State commitment to the Gators on national signing day 2012.

Now, in a class act, he has taken out an ad in the Gainesville Sun to say thank you to Gator Nation.

“Thank you Gator Nation for all the support and love the last three years. We’ve got the best fans in the land. I’ll forever bleed orange and blue.

-Dante Fowler Jr.”

Sports and sports fandom, college in particular, can often bring out some of the worst in people.

It’s good to see the good side of sports once in a while. And, considering the me-first attitude of many sports superstars, it’s good to know there are still some good guys out there who appreciate the love and adulation of fans who make it possible for them to play the game.

To Dante Fowler, Gator Nation thanks you for your commitment, dedication, and hard work and for always representing The University of Florida and Gator Nation with pride and class.

Now go be another in a long line of first round draft picks out of The University of Florida and continue to make us all proud.

We will forever be in your corner.

Go Gators!

Swamp Rumors: Francois Folly And Other Recruiting Rumblings

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College football recruiting is a circus.

Never more evident than yesterday’s social media meltdown spurred by four star quarterback Deondre Francois’ decommitment from Florida State via Twitter. Or the decommitment that wasn’t depending upon what story you believe.

@Deondre_3, “I’m officially decommitting from the university of Florida state.”

Of course, the tweet was quickly deleted but that didn’t stop stop fan message boards and social media from exploding.

Gator fans rejoiced believing he would be flipping his commitment, while FSU fans quickly downplayed it acting as if it was no big deal.

It’s always interesting watching the Jerry Springer show type antics of college football fans in reaction to personal decisions of 17-18 year old recruits.

Whenever a recruit backs off a pledge or flips his pledge to another school outraged fans act like jilted lovers fleeing to social media to bash the kid or downplay his skills.

All of the sudden the kid that was the gem of your class is now overrated and will never amount to anything and, here’s my favorite, “is making a huge mistake.”

And, after the brouhaha began over the deleted tweet, FSU fans reacted in typical fashion.

It went on for a couple of hours with recruiting analysts reporting Francois’ high school offensive line coach confirming the decommitment while his high school head coach Chris Weinke, a former FSU qb, reporting the opposite.

Finally, Francois tweeted a retraction to seemingly clear the air.

Hacked was certainly a plausible explanation considering the wording of the tweet “the university of Florida state”, he’s smarter than that, and the fact that only 48 hours earlier he confirmed his commitment to FSU.

Still some aren’t buying the story and many still feel a flip is possible or even in the works by signing day.

Stay tuned and bring the popcorn.

A new name on the board is Miami (FL) Central DE Keivonnis Davis, who last week committed to Oregon State on an official visit but was previously committed to Syracuse.

The Gators started recruiting him after Randy Shannon was hired as they stretch their recruiting board in search of some underrated players particularly at defensive end.

The Gators are looking for a pass rusher with cover skills and Davis (6-4 230) fits the bill.

He will visit Florida this weekend but could the Gators get the flip?

“I’m committed to Oregon State, but like my mom say, ’keep weighing out my option,’ because I don’t want to jump on this and may be taking the wrong route,” Davis said in a story by Luke Stampini of Florida247sports. “I’m still committed to Oregon State, but I’m still interested.”

“It is the SEC, but at the same time I got to go for the best fit for me. I ain’t just going for the name of the school. It’s most definitely about the people. I got to be comfortable with the people and the players.”

Mammoth offensive tackle Fred Johnson (6-7 335) from West Palm Beach (FL), will also be visiting Florida this weekend.

It’s no secret the Gators are in need of offensive lineman this cycle as they return only eight scholarship players along the line. In fact, the staff hopes to land a minimum of 6-8 this cycle.

With three lineman already committed, the Gators will take up to five more and Johnson is a huge target. Literally and figuratively.

Johnson is down to two schools Miami, the perceived favorite and the school he visited last weekend, and Florida.

What will he be looking for this weekend in Gainesville?

“I want to see everything that I wanted with the last visit, just the school environment, academics and the facilities and stuff,” Johnson said in a 247sports article by Luke Stampini

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And what is the staff’s selling point to him?

“He (offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier) said that Florida is a great place, it’s in the SEC, and how I’m a fit for the program,” Johnson said.

Adding, “They need tackles and stuff like that.”

Johnson will be one of six offensive line recruits visiting this weekend including guard Brandon Sandifer (6-4 335) from Warner Robins (GA), a Gator commit. The other five recruits are committed to other teams.

In addition to Johnson, big Tyree St. Louis (6-5 300) from Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy, a Miami commitment will be in, as will Washington D.C. Friendship Academy guard Quarvez Boulware (6-3 283), committed to Maryland, Atlanta (GA) Dunwoody tackle Nick Buchanan (6-5 280), a Cal commit, and a new name Richerd Desir-Jones (6-4 285) a defensive tackle from Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas whom the Gators are recruiting as an offensive guard. He is an FIU commit.

Desir-Jones is another recruit the Gators hope could be a hidden gem for them. He’s a thick, muscular road grader type. He doesn’t yet have a Gator offer but could walk away with one after meeting with the staff.

One thing’s for sure the staff is working hard and digging deep to find suitable players to fill out this class without reaching on too many.

This is the final recruiting weekend before national signing day which is next Wednesday. Final pitches and pleas will be made before the dead period begins on Monday.

The Gators, who only have 10 commitments as of now, have room for up to 26 signees but are expected to sign 20-22 recruits.

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Swamp Rumors and the latest on Florida Gator recruiting as we count down to signing day.

Breaking: Francois Backs Off FSU Pledge? **Updated**

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In a strange and confusing series of events today, four star Florida State quarterback commit Deondre Francois apparently decommitted from the Florida State Seminoles via Twitter before deleting the tweet according to Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel.

@Deondre_3, “I’m officially decommitting from the university of Florida state.”

It’s very odd considering he announced that he was sticking with his FSU pledge on Tuesday after taking an official visit to Florida last weekend.

The deletion of the tweet shortly after it was posted has led to a firestorm of sorts on social media as speculation runs rampage as to whether or not he did, in fact, post the tweet intentionally or if he indeed has backed off his pledge to the Seminoles.

If so, the Florida Gators stand to benefit as they are desperately seeking a qb in this recruiting class and Francois is the guy McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier want to bring in.

The situation is very fluid right now with multiple reports that Francois’ high school offensive line coach Spencer Hodges confirmed that Deondre did indeed decommit, while other reports day that his head coach Chris Weinke, a former Seminole quarterback himself, is meeting with him and he did not decommit.

** Update 5:30 PM CST**

Deondre posted an apology via Twitter stating his account was hacked.

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more on this developing story and the latest updates on Florida Gator recruiting.

Swamp Rumors: Clark Deciding Thursday Night And Other Florida Gator Recruiting Rumblings

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With less than a week remaining before national signing day, many college football teams are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their recruiting class.

The Florida Gators, however, are still trying to build theirs. With only ten commitments, one of which is very shaky at this point, the Gators staff is furiously trying to close strong. Here’s the latest on some recruits still remaining on the Gators board.

OT/DT Steven Clark from Guntersville (AL), a Syracuse commit who received a late offer from Florida, will finally make his final choice known on Thursday evening.

Originally expected to announce his decision on Monday after taking an official visit to Florida, he backed off choosing to take a break before making his decision.

It appears now he’s ready to make that announcement.

Atlanta (GA) Dunwoody offensive tackle Nick Buchanan (6-4 280) is one of the hottest recruits in the south right now.

A Cal commit, he recently received offers from several major southern programs, including Florida and Georgia, in the final rush before signing day.

He took an official visit to the home state Bulldogs this past weekend, a visit he rated an eight or a nine according to Jake Rowe of Dawgs247sports and, on Wednesday, he hosted two Georgia assistants for an in-home visit.

This weekend the plan is to take a visit to Florida and then make a decision on signing day.

“Tonight’s (in-home) visit didn’t really affect how I feel about UGA. It was just a chance to get to know the coaches a little more, Buchanan said in an article by Michael Carvell on AJC.com. “I’m just going to wait until after this weekend’s visit to Florida to think more about everything.”

With the Gators looking for three to five more offensive lineman this cycle (they have three committed already) expect the staff to amp up the pressure this weekend aiming for a commitment.

For his part, he wants to compare visits to the three schools before making a final decision which means a weekend commitment is unlikely.

“Right now, as I actually go on visits I’m still 100-percent to Cal committed and everything, because I didn’t feel that visit was better than anything I could have received at Cal. It was a great visit, but I had a great visit at Cal,” Buchanan said in an article by Luke Stampini of Florida247sports.

“As far as Florida, I still have my baseline comparison that I’m comparing everything to, because you can’t really make an insightful decision without knowing all the information that you can.”

While still committed to Cal at least publicly, most analysts do not expect him to sign with them. This one is a two-horse race between UGA and Florida.

Four star WR Derrick Dillon (5-11 173) from Franklinton (LA) Pine has been committed to the Gators since May. However, that was before he finally received an offer from the home state LSU Tigers, an offer he described as a dream come true.

Now it appears his Gator commitment may be slip sliding away. He took an official visit to the Tigers on the 16th and has been very tight lipped since.

He was expected to take an unofficial visit to Florida this weekend for a final look at an old school with a new staff. There have been rumblings, however, that he may not visit after all.

It’s very important the Gators get one last crack at him particularly on campus where they have a chance to overcome any momentum LSU picked up on his visit there.

Rest assured, if he indeed visits, the Gators have a great shot to keep him, but if he doesn’t, then pencil him in at LSU.

Another recruit expected to visit the Gators this weekend is defensive end Richard McBryde.

The Auburn commit that some had speculated might be being pushed out of their class by new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, was scheduled to visit this weekend but instead has scuttled those plans.

It appears he will remain a Tiger.

A name to look out for this weekend might be Hampton (GA) Lovejoy cornerback Montrell Custis (6-0 175).

The three star recruit has flip-flopped his commitment between Kentucky and Alabama but now it appears he’s been pushed out by Bama.

He’s scheduled to visit Florida this weekend, and with the Gators needing bodies across the board at this point, the staff is likely to push for a commitment.

He’s down to three finalists, Florida, Ole Miss, and Kentucky and the Gators have as good a shot as any and the last visit.

Another player to watch this weekend for a possible flip is Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy offensive tackle Tyree St. Louis (6-6 300).

The Miami Hurricane commit will visit the Gators this weekend and the staff will work hard to sell him on an opportunity for early playing time and being the foundation of an offensive renaissance in Gainesville.

While most consider his commitment to Miami to be firm after taking his official there on the 16th, he is a huge priority for the new staff so expect them to pull out all the stops to flip his commitment this weekend.

As always, stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Swamp Rumors and the latest on Florida Gator recruiting.

Swamp Rumors: Florida Gators Offer New QB And Other Recruiting Rumblings

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In the wake of Deondre Francois’ decision to stick with FSU and with the likelihood of flipping Louisville commit Lamar Jackson dwindling by the day, the Florida Gators staff put out a new quarterback offer on Monday.

N.C. State commit Jakobi Meyers (6-1 175) from Lithonia (GA) Arabia Mountain had an in-home visit with head coach Jim McElwain during which he received the Florida offer.

He’s a lanky kid with a live arm and good wheels but is very raw. The good news? Both Mac and Nuss have great track records with 3* or lower rated qb’s.

Meyers is expected to visit Florida this weekend.

If so, he’ll be alongside four star Louisville qb commit Lamar Jackson from Boynton Beach (FL). Jackson is McElwain’s plan B or 1-A at the quarterback spot this cycle.

Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier visited Jackson on Tuesday and confirmed the visit will take place this weekend.

While recent chatter has Jackson as solid to Louisville, expect the Gator staff to pull out all the stops to snag a weekend commitment from him now that Francois is off the board.

One thing’s for sure, coach Mac desperately wants a qb in this class. The biggest question is how far down the line is he willing to go?

Jackson, like Francois, will be a tough flip and Meyers is no sure thing either.

Getting to signing day will be like getting teeth pulled for Gator fans this year.

Lilburn Parkview defensive end G.G.Robinson, a Louisville commit, has been seeing a lot of increased attention as we close in on signing day.

The Gators are one of those new suitors. He has an official visit scheduled to UF this weekend but sources say he might not end up taking that visit.

Auburn has also become a player and word is they are the most serious threat to his Louisville commitment.

Problem is they haven’t offered yet. However, that offer is expected any day and if so expect him to trip to Auburn this weekend rather than Florida.

The Gators aren’t conceding anything as of yet sending two coaches in-home on Wednesday trying to maintain that coveted final visit spot for Robinson.

**update 8:13 am cst**

G.G. Cleared up the Auburn rumors in a Twitter this morning.

So G.G. will indeed take a visit to Florida this weekend. This news certainly increases the Gators chances here.

While Auburn may try to usurp a Gator visit from Robinson, the Gators will be trying to flip an Auburn commit.

Defensive end Richard McBryde is still planning to take a planned official to Florida this weekend.

While the Gators are desperately looking to add some defensive end depth McBryde is a strong Tiger commit and this is likely nothing more than a free trip for him.

There are rumors that Will Muschamp, who didn’t recruit him while at Florida, may be trying to run him out of Auburn’s class. Not quite sure how accurate that is but don’t pencil him in to this Gators class until further notice.

And speaking of Auburn, they went in-home with ESPN #1 overall recruit Byron Cowart on Wednesday. Head coach Gus Malzahn, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, and lead recruiter Travaris Robinson visited with him.

Cowart is down to Auburn and Florida, who will be in-home with him on Thursday, and he will announce his decision on signing day.

The Gators lead in his 247sports crystal balls with 62% to 25% for Auburn. The Tigers, however, have been trending up for him for some time.

Athlete Jalen Julius from Orlando (FL) West Orange may be back on the board for the Gators. He was recruited by the previous staff as a defensive back and briefly committed to the Gators back in April before backing off that pledge in July.

He has visited numerous schools officially and unofficially including most recently Ole Miss last weekend and Notre Dame, the perceived favorite to land him, the weekend before.

The only problem with the Irish being the favorites is they haven’t offered him yet. By default, most consider the Rebels to lead if the Irish do not offer.

Florida wasn’t even considered a player here until now. ESPN recruiting analyst Derek Tyson tweeted Julius’ final four teams which head-scratchingly included Florida.

Now it appears the Gator staff has requested he visit this weekend and it appears he may indeed visit.

I think he really liked Florida but didn’t want to play defense which led to his decommitment. With a new staff, a new emphasis on offense, and the need for finding some suitable three star athletes to help fill out this class, I believe they’ll sell him on getting a shot on offense.

If so, he very well could be on commitment watch this weekend.

Stay tuned.

It’s no secret the Gators new staff is after some speedy playmakers in this class. Ath Javarius Davis (5-9 175) from Jacksonville (FL) Ed White fits that bill.

While every other program is recruiting the diminutive speedster to play on defense, the Gators are pursuing him as a combo slot receiver, running back, and punt returner.

The one-time North Carolina commit was very impressed with Auburn and basically they may be the team to beat for his services. The Gators staff is nothing if not persistent and he is expected to visit Florida this weekend.

If he makes it to Gainesville, the Gators have a chance. If not, he’s likely all Tiger.

Finally, offensive tackle Christian Pellage is set to decide between Florida, the home state school, and South Carolina, the school he’s been committed to for some time.

Florida offensive line coach Mike Summers went in-home with him on Wednesday and South Carolina is expected in-home on Thursday. After that he will make his decision and is expected to announce by the weekend.

The feeling here is he is agonizing between the two schools, and both staffs feel confident.

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Swamp Rumors and the latest on Florida Gator recruiting as we count down to signing day.