JACKSONVILLE, FL - JANUARY 02: Andre Debose #4, De'Ante Sanders #26 and Deonte Thompson #6 of the Florida Gators celebrate with their team after defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 24-17 in the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl at EverBank Field on January 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Florida could end up with the top class in the country if things break right for the Gators on Wednesday. For more, visit Florida blog Alligator Army.
This Florida football recruiting National Signing Day preview is provided by Andy Hutchins of SB Nation's excellent Florida Gators site, Alligator Army. Looking for National Signing Day coverage of other teams or recruits? Head to SB Nation College Football Recruiting.
For the first time in three years, Florida enters National Signing Day with both a lot to gain and a significant amount of stability. In 2010, Florida was trying to hold together a top class that threatened to fracture after Urban Meyer's bizarre pseudo-retirement; in 2011, Will Muschamp was left to rally after Meyer departed Gainesville for real, and didn't have much left on his plate except Marcus Roberson and Jacoby Brissett. Now, in 2012, Muschamp's got a year under his belt as a head coach, and the only change for Florida comes at offensive coordinator, where Brent Pease was brought in to replace Charlie Weis — partly, as Muschamp reiterated, for continuity's sake. And so Florida has a chance to close with a few five-stars that could make the Gators' class one of the nation's three best.
In the Florida program, Pease's offense is the phase of the game that needs the most help, and the wide receiving corps the unit that needs reinforcements most desperately. But the Gators could score a couple of coups on and after Signing Day with wide receivers Stefon Diggs, considered a Florida lean, and Nelson Agholor, likely choosing between USC and Florida. Both are among the nation's top 10 receivers, and each would give Pease a playmaker on the perimeter, but only Agholor is committing on Wednesday; Diggs will reveal his choice on February 10.
Florida could also use help on the offensive line, but is unlikely to get it on Wednesday. Avery Young was once considered a Florida lean, but has cooled on the Gators, and would stun many if he opted for UF's orange and blue over Auburn's. Kyle Murphy is likely to stay on the West Coast instead of heading to Gainesville. Jake Meador could commit to Florida, but isn't the instant-impact player Young and Murphy are.
The Gators don't need talent as badly on defense, with all but a couple of major contributors returning, but could use depth. Linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons will likely be choosing between Georgia, Florida, and Florida State on Signing Day, and could give any of those teams a massive pickup in the middle. Florida has also led for Tracy Howard, one of the nation's best cornerbacks, who could add a shutdown corner to a young secondary that smelled like toast fairly often in 2011.
Beyond those big names, Florida could also be a factor for Dante Fowler. The long-time FSU commit is expected to follow through with his pledge to join the Seminoles, but he's done more than his fair share of flirting with the Gators, and could deliver a shock to the system by donning a Florida hat.