Florida football recruiting: Gators continue rolling despite losing season

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida hadn't finished the year with a losing record since 1979. Thankfully for Will Muschamp, there's plenty of help on the way.

Even with all of the uncertainty surrounding Will Muschamp and the Florida's' football program right now, the Gators continue to roll on the recruiting trail.

According to 24/7Sports' composite team rankings, Florida's 2014 class is currently ranked No. 8 nationally. That's good for fourth-best in the SEC, just behind Alabama (No. 1), Tennessee (No. 3) and Texas A&M (No. 4). With quite a few SEC schools right on the Gators' tails in the rankings, Muschamp and his new assistant coaches will have to continue working to not only add a few other players to the class, but keep their current blue-chippers committed. It's all about stability for these 17- and 18-year old athletes, and losing offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis could end up hurting the Gators come National Signing Day.

Florida has added a handful of players to their class over the last month or so. On Dec. 12, David Sharpe, one of the better offensive tackle prospects in the country, gave his pledge to UF. At 6'7 and 315 pounds, Sharpe is regarded as the 87th-best player in 2014 and the eighth-best offensive tackle, according to 24/7Sports. Sharpe had offers to just about every SEC school.

Moral Stephens, a three-star tight end out of Perry, Fla., committed to Florida the same day Sharpe did. Stephens is a fringe top-500 prospect and is ranked as the 15th-best tight end in his class. Ryan Sousa is another offensive player to recently commit. Sousa is a three-star wide receiver on most recruiting sites, and at 6'0 and 177 pounds, it's likely he sees some time at the slot position in college. He is another Florida native that'll be heading to Gainesville in the fall. The most recent player to commit to UF was junior college offensive lineman Drew Sarvary on Dec. 18. The Gators really lacked depth along the line last season due to injuries, and Sarvary could be able to step in immediately and plug some holes if needed.

As for the rest of the class, Dalvin Cook, who may be the top running back prospect in the class, is committed to play for the Gators next season. Cook is quick and explosive in the open field, but is far from a lock to stick with the Gators, as you will read below. Ermon Lane is the other crown jewel for Muschamp's class. At 6'1 and 195 pounds, Lane has the size, speed and hands to be a dynamic playmaker down the field. He is viewed as the fourth-best wide receiver for 2014 and could see a lot of playing time as a true freshman.

The Gators need to find a reliable quarterback moving forward, and they hope it can be Will Grier. One of the few players not from the state of Florida that's currently committed, Grier is a four-star pro style QB out of North Carolina. As with every high school QB prospect, it'll take some time for him to get the hang of the offense, but he has all of the tools a coach could ask for. J.C. Jackson, another four-star prospect from the state of Florida, could be on the receiving end on a handful of Grier's passes down the road. Jackson hails from Immokalee, Fla., and is a top-200 prospect. At just 5'10 and 175 pounds, look for him to play some slot and be a candidate to even run a couple of plays out of the backfield.

Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst: Florida is still Florida, and it will continue to recruit very well in almost any situation. The Gators' main goal right now is to hold on to Dalvin Cook, but that could prove difficult as FSU and Miami sources feel confident Cook will flip on Jan. 2 at the Under Armour All-Star Game. It is telling that Florida seems to be running third, according to many, even though he maintains he is a Florida commitment.

Beyond that, however, Florida is still in on several top targets.

The first is Jamal Adams, an elite safety recruit out of Texas. As I wrote Thursday, Adams seems like a battle between Florida and LSU now that he has eliminated Texas.

Georgia defensive end Lorenzo Carter, a five-star with enormous potential, remains very high on Florida. Georgia is likely to be the main competition for Carter, and both schools run similar defenses with similar opportunities for early playing time. This one likely comes down to his relationship with the coaches, as Florida is not that far away from Norcross (Ga.).

Florida also still has a big need on the offensive line, and it has targeted Derrick Kelly, Jr., of East Gadsen (Fla.). Kelly is a major late-riser, having been committed to Kentucky for almost a year, but also the recipient of offers from Florida, LSU, FSU, South Carolina and others in the last six weeks. Kelly visited Florida recently and will take several more visits before National Signing Day.

If Florida adds a pass rusher and an offensive lineman, and holds on to Lane and perhaps cook, this class will be a huge success.

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