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July 7, 2014
The Opening: Florida commits and targets
This week many of the top prospects across the nation will head to Nike Headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon to take part in this years showcase The Opening. With many prospects on hand Inside the Gators will now take a look at the Florida commits and targets participating in the event.
This year the Florida Gators are set to have three commitments participating out on the west coast. Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde quarterback Sheriron Jones is already out in Oregon competing in this year's Elite 11 challenge. Jones is looking to compete this weekend as well as talk up the Orange and Blue to many of the Gators top targets that will also be on hand.
Another offensive playmaker that is looking to showcase their ability is Franklinton (LA) Pine three-star wide receiver Derrick Dillon. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder turned many heads when camping at UF last month and is looking to build off of that performance on the big stage. Dillon is currently solid in his commitment to the Gators, but still as Texas and Oklahoma trying to stay in the race.
Finally the Gators lone defensive commitment on hand will be Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga Rivals100 cornerback Marcus Lewis. The four-star corner has been committed to Florida since April, and claims he is very solid in his commitment. However he hasn't exactly shut down the process as he is still talking with other schools and plans to take all five of his allotted official visits in the fall.
While there may only be three commitments participating, the Gators are going to have plenty of targets on hand in Oregon this weekend. With Florida moving to a more wide open spread offense they are going to need to bring in players who can make plays in space and score points. Look no further than Tampa (Fla.) Sickles Rivals100 athlete Ray-Ray McCloud III, who will be working out at both running back and wide receiver. At this time Florida and Clemson are the two schools most associated with this four-star prospect, with the Gators likely sitting on top.
Another top running back looking at Florida is Winter Gardens (Fla.) West Orange, Miami commit, Dexter Williams. The four-star back gave his pledge to the Canes back in April, but is keeping his options open with Florida, Tennessee, Ohio State and South Carolina in the mix as well. Williams has a lot of friends and family members pushing the Gators on him. If he visits Gainesville, he will be on "flip watch".
Both five-star backs Damien Harris and Jacques Patrick will also be on hand this week as well. Currently the Gators are still being listed by both prospects in their list of top schools, but UF is on the outside looking in. Ohio State is likely the school sitting best for Harris with Patrick having FSU and Alabama on top.
There will also be many top pass catchers on display this week with the Gators on their radar. Arguably the most important skill player left on the Gator's big board, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake Rivals100 wide receiver George Campbell will be coming back to Oregon for his second straight year. Last year he wowed everyone based on his pure athletic ability. This year he will look to show that he has improved his receiving skills. Campbell grew up a big fan of the Gators, but also has Florida State and LSU in the mix.
Another Florida wide out coveted by the Gators is Tampa (Fla.) Tampa Bay Tech's Deon Cain, a Clemson commit. Though he has committed to the Tigers early the Gators and Seminoles are both still trying their best to flip the Rivals250 wide out.
A few other wide receivers with UF on their radar are five-star Tyron Johnson, Rivals100 wide receiver John Burt, Rivals250 wide receiver K.J. Hill, and four-star wide receiver Van Jefferson. All four mention Florida as a school they are interested in, but the Gators aren't considered to be in the lead group for any of them at this time.
Another wide out on hand that could also have a future as a tight end in college is Tampa (Fla.) Wharton Rivals250 wide receiver Auden Tate. The Gators were looking at Tate to play tight end at first, but have since told him they were okay with him playing wide receiver as well. At this time Florida State seems to be the team sitting best for Tate, and he also has tentative plans to visit Michigan sometime this summer as well.
Along the trenches there looks to be a solid amount of offensive linemen looking to showcase their talent against some of the nation's elite. Headlining that group is Apopka (Fla.) Rivals100 offensive tackle Martez Ivey. Currently Florida is the odds on favorite for this four-star big man with Auburn also in the picture. He is looking to visit both schools later this month.
Rivals100 offensive guard Javon Patterson will also be competing this week as well. Currently Ole Miss and Auburn are the co-leaders for this four-star big man coming off his recent visit to UF. The Gators currently sit in his top five and likely will get an official visit in the fall when he gets around to taking them.
Another lineman Florida fans should keep an eye on is Woodbridge (Va.) C.D. Hylton offensive guard Matthew Burrell Jr. Currently Ohio State looks to be the team to beat for this top250 lineman, but he has a planned visit to UF for sometime at the end of this month. Until the Gators actually get him on campus, it is nearly impossible to gauge whether or not they'll be much of a player for this 6-foot-4, 286-pounder.
Those offensive linemen are going to have their hands full this week as they do battle against some of the nations top defensive linemen. The most anticipated prospect that will be on hand is Seffner (Fla.) Armwood five-star defensive end Byron Cowart. Currently Cowart has Florida and Oregon at the top for his services with Alabama on the outside looking in. Though he gives Oregon the nod as his top school now, it's likely that distance and relationships are going to play a factor in the long run. For this life-long Florida fan.
With the Gators not signing a single linebacker in 2014 they are looking to take a large number at that position in 2015. One-name Florida fans may not have to wait a long time until his commitment is Lawrenceville (Ga.) Central Gwinnett four-star linebacker Adonis Thomas. Heading into his August 1st commitment date Florida seems to have the edge over Alabama and Notre Dame.
Another linebacker that could have a decision sometime at the end of summer or start of fall is Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) four-star linebacker Tevon Coney. At this time Florida and Notre Dame are Coney's top two, but many have him pegged as a UF lean. Another top linebacker with UF on his radar is Montezuma (Ga.) Macon County Rivals100 linebacker Roquan Smith. At this time Georgia is the heavy favorite for Smith with Florida, Auburn, and even UCLA in the mix as well.
Last but not least the Gators will have a few defensive back targets participating this year. Miramar (Fla.) Florida State cornerback commit Tyrek Cole is still shopping around despite his early commitment to the Noles. This fall Cole is looking to officially visit Florida, Alabama, and Miami as well as FSU. Another top corner that will be on display this weekend is Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian three-star cornerback Darius Slayton. Currently Auburn, Florida and Georgia are the standouts for this Peach State defender.