Class of 2016 Recruiting Class Superlatives
With Florida's Class of 2016 now signed, sealed and delivered it is time to carry out an annual tradition and pass out superlatives to the Gators' newest crop of players.
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Immediate Impact Offensive Player
Reporting as a junior college player with only two years of eligibility remaining, Florida didn't bring running back Mark Thompson in to sit on the bench. Thompson is coming in with some college playing experience in hand and at 6-foot-2, 235-pounds he will be a hard guy to tackle when he’s coming at you full speed. Like Gators running backs coach Tim Skipper said to the media on Signing Day, Mark is a grown man.
Immediate Impact Defensive Player
Watching defensive end Antonneous Clayton dominate day after day during Under Armour week really showed how ready he is for the college level. It was during that week that Clayton earned his five-star ranking by demonstrating his quick first step off the line. Clayton has slightly less then ideal weight for his position at 228-pounds, but has the frame to add more. Once Clayton is able to add some weight, learn the playbook and touch up some technique he is going to be special.
Best All-Around Athlete
Despite his small stature, four-star JUCO wide out Dre Massey can hurt you in a lot of ways with the ball in his hands. In high school Massey was known for getting into the endzone, but he had to go the junior college route. While at Holmes C.C., Massey played some running back as well as wide receiver and likely will be used in that same capacity in Gainesville, much like Brandon Powell.
Most Underrated Player
Hoover linebacker Jeremiah Moon was one of those guys Inside the Gators really thought should get a fourth star in the final Rivals.com rankings. If you watch the tape Moon moves sideline to sideline very well and shows a high football IQ when reading the play. He has quick instincts and can lay a lick in the open field. He is tall and lanky, but lacks in the weight department. If the staff can put some meat on his bones, he can be a real contributor down the road.
Most Overrated Player
This is a designation the Gator Nation doesn't like associated with a signee, and getting to know each of these signees over the last year on a personal level, isn't easy to give, but I am going with four-star Feleipe Franks here. When you see a top 100 ranking and a third overall quarterback rating you think this is a guy that will see the field as a true freshman. Franks has one of the strongest arms in the country, but still is very raw in other areas. Franks is ideal for what Jim McElwain looks for in a signal-caller, but Franks needs a great deal of grooming first.
You don’t get much more surprising then a shocking National Signing Day addition of junior college cornerback Joseph Putu. The Gators came in with a late offer last week right before he took an official visit to Arkansas, where he committed that same weekend. Putu has never even visited Florida’s campus so it was pretty surprising to say the least to see how this one played out.
The Gators had a need at the defensive tackle position and Rivals250 defensive tackle commit Shavar Manuel drew a lot of the same comparisons as Jonathan Bullard, so it was definitely disappointing to see Florida lose him to rival Florida State. The Gators weren’t able to bring in any other true defensive tackles in the 2016 class, making it a position the staff will need to hit hard in 2017.
Most Exciting Guy To Watch Play
On tape Rivals100 wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland makes a lot of plays using his hands and speed. Cleveland is originally from Jacksonville, but moved to Houston around the start of high school and played at one of Texas’s top programs. During Under Armour week Cleveland was one of the top playmakers for his team, making big play after big play against some of the top defensive backs in his graduating class.
When contacted four-star running back LaMical Perine always got back to me when it came to interviews or even just having a conversation. There weren’t many times Perine did not respond. On top of that, he comes off as a great all-around guy. Despite living in Alabama, Perine was a frequent visitor to Gainesville and spent a lot of time with the coaches, commits, and current players.
Biggest Moment for Florida this Cycle
The biggest moment of this recruiting cycle was probably the early part of the season when the Gators were riding an undefeated season and a high ranking in the college polls. It was during that time the Gators had a lot of games where the recruiting section was filled to the brim and The Swamp was rocking. In that span of time the Gators made a lot of positive strides with quite a few of their top targets.
Low Point For Florida Recruiting
The beginning and end of the cycle. Back in the spring and summer when the Gators took a lot of guys that at the time were unknown three-stars. Of those guys were Perine, Vosean Joseph, and Josh Hammond. There were a lot of complaints at the time from the fan base about taking so many lower rated prospects. However those players improved their ranking down the road and also picked up offers from other top schools from around the county looking to flip a lot of these prospects. Then, down the stretch, other than Cleveland, Florida lost just about every recruiting battle for top targets.
Biggest Mystery Man As Far As Production
For most of his high school career athlete McArthur Burnett played on the offensive side of the ball. It wasn’t until he was heading into his senior season that Burnett started to play as a defensive back. Most of Burnett’s film is on offense, which seems to be where he is most natural. He is very athletic, so perhaps with some coaching the Gators can eventually throw Burnett into the fire.
Three-star defensive end Jachai Polite is a guy that grew a lot over the course of his senior year. He’s got the size of a strong side defensive end now, but also can add some weight and play a little defensive tackle as well. He played at one of the best high schools in the state of Florida and received good training there as far as technique. This one may have more upside than any other member in the 2016 class.
Commitment Recruiting Award
This one easily goes to Rivals100 cornerback Chauncey Gardner. After committing to the Gators early on Gardner got right to work trying to add others to the class. Gardner competed in a lot of camps and 7-on-7’s in the off-season and got to know a lot of top prospects around the country and urged them to join him in Gainesville. Gardner also enrolled early at Florida in the spring and continued his campaign to recruit others. Gardner also would have ran away with the best smack talker award as well.
Team That Hurt Florida The Most
To be honest there wasn’t one team that outright hurt Florida, but rather a couple schools that landed one or two guys the Gators wanted. A few of those schools are Florida State, Alabama, Auburn, and LSU.
Team Florida Hurt The Most
The Gators really took advantage of the hot seat talk surrounding Al Golden and then the subsequent coaching change that later took place in Coral Gables. The Gators were able to flip Burnett, Gardner, and Jawaan Taylor from the Canes. As well as plucking Joseph, Eddy Pineiro, and CJ McWilliams from their backyard. Jachai Polite and Freddie Swain were also guys the Miami staff coveted.