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Battle for Florida

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Another wild recruiting season ended yesterday, with more talent then ever leaving the state of Florida. Year in and year out, our prospects prove that we have the speed and talent that rivals any other state. For many years, Florida State, Florida and Miami built their programs around in-state talent, which led to gret success. Now, everyone else wants a piece of the pie. Colleges from across the country desended on the Sunshine State in hopes of landing one of our talented prospects. Many were successful, so successful that they landed a multitude of players. FV breaks down which teams were the most successful and the talent the reeled in.

See FV's Top 100 with updated commitment graphics.
8 total commitments - including 4 early enrolles (5 FV 100 members)

When it comes to making a statement, the Michigan Wolverines were at the top of the charts with top Sunshine State commitments. The Maize and Blue's dedication kicked off in Pahokee where they landed two standouts in Brandin Hawthorne and Vincent Smith. Across the board, Michigan landed some of the top overall prospects in Florida. In addition to the impressive group, Michigan has already taken a step in the future with a big commitment from 2010 WR Ricardo Miller from Dr. Phillips.

The Wolverines are also in strong position to land junior Marvin Robinson a talented safety and were announced the early leader for top junior cornerback Lo Wood. Among the commitments for this year include Vladimir Emilien, Vincent Smith, Brandin Hawthorne, Mike Jones, Denard Robinson, Adrian Witty and Jeremy Gallon.

Breaking down this class, one of the more impressive, but underrated prospects just might be Pahokee RB Vincent Smith who this season rushed for over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. Smith has tremendous vision and quickness. He will make a solid impact in the new spread offense for Coach Rodriguez. Fans should be really excited about Deerfield Beach standout athlete Denard Robinson. This electrifying athlete could make an immediate splash with the Wolverine offense depending on how quickly he grasp the offense. Staying with speedy talents, no player was more elusive then Apopka standout Jeremy Gallon. If the talented athlete can stay on course and qualify, expect an immediate impact in the Michigan offense.

8 total commitments (7 FV Top 100 members)

Fresh off an amazing 9-4 season with big wins over National Champion Florida and a Cotton Bowl win over Texas Tech, the excitement is once again very high in Oxford with the Mississippi Rebels making a huge splash in Florida. Last season, the Rebels pulled off the big coup, reeling in former Panama City Mosley RB Enrique Davis as well as RB Dexter McCluster. This season the Rebels focused on the defensive side of the ball with big commitments from Gulliver Prep tandem Frank Crawford and Artice Kellam. Ole Miss also added some very talented linebackers in Mike Marry and Willie Ferrell. On the offensive side of the ball, the Rebels were also able to lure shifty Dixie County RB Rodney Scott over from Auburn.

Some other top prospects from the Sunshine State include FAMU DE Alex Williams, Korvic Neat and Godby DT Corey Gaines. One of the more impressive pick-ups for the Rebels could very well be former Florida Gator player and Jacksonville Sandalwood standout Jamar Hornsby. The 6-foot-3, 200 pound safety has great speed for a safety and can cover a ton of ground in coverage. His impact should be felt immediately in our opinion for the Rebel defense. Overall it was a great year in the Sunshine State and shows the constant focus the Ole Miss coaching staff has made in bringing more speed and athletism into the Rebel program.

6 total commitments (5 FV Top 100 members)

Raise your hand if coming into this season you expected the West Virginia to be one of the top teams around the Sunshine State in bringing in overall talent? Probably not many people would have made that claim, but regardless, the Mountaineers have been one of the top out-of-state programs establishing a strong bond in Florida. Leading the impressive group of six FV Top 100 members has to be Miramar QB Eugene Smith, who earlier this year was a finalist for the FV Offensive Player of the year. As a senior the 6-foot-3, 183 pound standout threw for over 2,000 yards and accounted for 31 touchdowns. Smith also led his Mirimar team to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Smith's teammate and favorite target WR Stedman Bailey is also a prospect that shouldn't take long to make a dent inside the Mountaineer offense. Bailey has tremendous hands, is one of the top route runners in Florida and extremely effective after the catch.

The talent doesn't slow down from there for the Mountaineers. West Virginia was also able to make their first mark in the Volusia County with a huge pick-up in the secondary in landing the services of Seabreeze safety Jonathan Scott, who chose the Mountaineers over Clemson and South Carolina among others. Buchholtz OL Jordan Weingart also should bolster the West Virginia offensive line. Weingart is one of the more athletic offensive lineman in Florida this past year. Finally, the Mountaineers continued their assault in the sunshine state in nabbing yet another top running back as they hauled in FV Top 100 member Daquan Hargrett the leading rusher for the state runner up Miami Northwestern Bulls. Hargrett is very quick and fast naturally but his best quality just might be his vision.

6 total commitments (6 FV Top 100 members)

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier knows that invading the Sunshine State is essential if the Gamecocks want to compete with the best of the best in the SEC. South Carolina more than delivered in their mission by making several huge pickups on the offensive side of the ball. Gaither RB Jarvis Giles could be the biggest catch of the group, when you consider he's easily a top 25 prospect in the state of Florida and without question is one of the quickest overall backs in the state this season. The Gamecocks also secured huge commitments from Fletcher WR Lamar Scruggs and Fort Walton Beach standout Matt Coffee (brother of former Alabama standout Glen Coffee) and Ben Axon from Manatee. Offensively, from top to bottom, I'm not sure there is another team that hit a homerun like the Gamecocks did on signing day in the state of Florida.

Not to be outdone, the Gamecocks also filled a strong need in their secondary with the signing of Andrew Jackson hard hitting safety Corey Addison. There are obviously plenty of areas we love about Addison, but his coverage ability in man to man situations clearly stands out. In addition, Addison is one of the more sure tacklers in the state of Florida at the safety position. Great job by the staff once again at South Carolina, which was spearheaded by assistant coach Robert Gillispie who helped secure the signing of Giles, among others.

3 total commitments (3 FV Top 100 members)

The Tide may have landed only three prospects from Florida, but when you talk about hauling in the top talent, Alabama is at the head of the class. Consider this, Alabama landed the three guys that are in the top three in Florida at each one of their positions in Escambia RB Trent Richardson, South Dade DE Ed Stinson and Armwood LB Petey Smith. As many know, the Crimson Tide claimed their second consecutive recruiting title with and have further established their presence inside the Sunshine State. In fact, if I had to pick one team that can clearly compete with the boys in Florida in FSU, Miami and Florida, the Crimson Tide are that team or one of the few.

It goes without saying that Trent Richardson is the cream of the crop when it comes to this class in Florida and he's the prospect we expect to make a huge dent into the Crimson Tide offense. Nothing against the current Alabama players on the roster, but Richardson's impact right now will be felt the day he steps on campus. He is already physically ready and is easily the total package at running back. He's extremely fast with great top end speed, solid vision and easily one of the strongest running backs you will see anywhere in the nation. Stinson on the other hand is a defensive end we feel has a higher overall ceiling of talent then probably any in the state this season and kudos on the Alabama staff from seeing this early in the process. Armwood LB Petey Smith is a big time linebacker prospect and will make teams wish they took a chance on him throughout his career at Alabama.

2 total commitments (2 FV Top 100 members)

Although they had only two prospects from the Sunshine State, the Trojans showed once again why they are able to come into the state of Florida anytime they want and nab the top overall prospects. This season the Trojans focused on the defensive side of the ball with Gulliver Prep LB Frankie Telfort and hard hitting Lincoln safety Jawanza Starling. What I've always loved about the Southern California defense is how aggressive and hard hitting their defense is week in and week out. These two will continue that storied tradition. Telfort is a heat seeking missle to the football, but his versatility is what really catches your eye. He's very fluid in covering running backs, wide receivers, or even tight ends out of the backfield. Now with Starling, his talents are clearly through the roof and probably even a stage higher then Telfort. This safety probably separates the defender from the ball better then any safety we have seen all year, and once he learns the defense he's going to be bring a lot of the pain to the opposition.

3 total commitments (3 FV Top 100 members)
Anytime you are as far away as the Ohio State Buckeyes are from the state of Florida, it's extremely impressive when you can haul in one prospect out of the Sunshine State. The Buckeyes however brought in three big ones, all coming from the offensive side of the ball. Ohio State focused hard in bringing in more speed for their offense and you don't get much faster than Palmetto RB Jaamal Berry who arguably could be the fastest running back in Florida. In addition, the Buckeyes got a second generation star WR in Duron Carter (son of former Ohio State great Cris Carter). Much like his father, Duron has plenty of tools to work with but his strongest attribute clearly is his hands in where we named the younger Carter "Spider Man" because of his ability to catch anything, anywhere near him. Carter was also one of the biggest risers in the FV Top 100 and without question, the top performer all week leading up to Under Armour All-star game. Lastly, the Buckeyes filled a strong need in hauling in the top power back from the state of Florida as well in Naples RB Carlos Hyde.

6 total commitments (4 FV Top 100 members)
Now when it comes to teams that have established themselves in finding some of the more underrated prospects in Florida, no one touches the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. In fact, if you had to pick one team that established this trend over the past four years it would have to be the Deacons. Wake Forest has built a strong pipe line to Nease high school, one of the more talented programs in Florida every year. This season they continued to plant a tent at that school with commitments from FV Top 100 members John Gallagher and Frank Souza. However, this year the Deacons also are bringing in a bigger amount of speed with the signings of Derald Jones from First Coast and Daniel Mack out of Dade Christian. Wake Forest is also bringing in one of the top overall punters in the state this year in Bolles punter Alex Wulfeck.


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