Though the Letters of Intent have been signed and faxed in, Inside the Gators isn't quite ready to move on from the class of 2012 just yet. Today, in order give a more complete look at the Florida signees, in this Ultimate Ticket Update Matt Hamilton shares his expert opinion on Florida's signing class.
All evaluations were based off each player's Rivals.com highlight film. Scouts usually need at least three full game tapes of a player to get a full evaluation of his skill set, strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies. More so, scouts prefer the tapes not to be from consecutive games. Highlight tapes only show off a few physical traits and some tendencies as far as technique is concerned.
Having said that, here is what I observed from watching their highlight tapes:
JAFAR MANN - Run stuffing defensive tackle. Very strong, good size. Does not add much as a pass rusher, but will eat up blockers. Uses his hands well. Gets good push, able to get his hands on running backs and make plays even while engaged with a blocker. Displayed adequate lateral movement. Good discipline, gap integrity on outside runs. Can play multiple gaps with ease. Stays in control of his man until play is diagnosed.
MARCUS MAYE - Complete safety. Was an running back and kick returner as well in high school. Big and physical with the athleticism to lock up receivers in man if need be, but most comfortable in zone. Good ball skills and hands and solid instincts. Aggressive in his run defense and loves to hit. Has the build and athleticism that he is physically capable of contributing right away. With Maye and Rhaheim Ledbetter, Florida will have an impressive duo patrolling the middle of the field for years to come.
ALEX McCALISTER - Interesting prospect with huge upside, but will need to redshirt before being able to solidly contribute. At 6-foot-7, 212-lbs, he will need to add considerable bulk. Barely played with his hand in the ground, mostly a stand-up edge rusher, so will need a lot of work on his technique. That being said, he has long arms and uses them well, keeping lineman from getting into his pads. Very quick of the ball and plays both the run and pass well. Has the speed, strength, and frame to be an absolute monster down the road, but it will all depend on his development.
SKYLER MORNHINWEG - As the lone signal caller in this class and son of Eagles Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Skyler will have plenty of pressure to perform. He is a strong runner, with good speed and showed agility to make people miss in the open field. As a passer, he is accurate, confident and decisive in the pocket. Can move outside the pocket and throw accurately on the run as well. Needs to work on his throwing motion. While he has a quick release, he uses too much arm on his throws and not enough of his lower half, which limits his arm strength. Also took some unnecessary risks, which SEC defenses will make him pay for. Overall though, the pieces are there for him to develop into a solid dual-threat QB with the proper coaching.
ANTONIO MORRISON - Athletic and physical, enough so that he can eventually play any of three linebacker spots (SAM once he gets into the weight room). As an early enrollee, should be able to contribute right away as a rotational guy and on special teams. Explosive and aggressive, he is not afraid to shoot the gap and make a play in the backfield. Will need work in coverage, but is a solid run stopper already. While he plays loose and is all over the field, he is surprisingly disciplined when it comes to fulfilling his responsibilities.
DANTE PHILLIPS - Another formidable addition to what should be one of the country's premier defensive lines is a few years. Phillips is one of the more athletic defensive tackles I have seen and at 6-foot-6, 268-lbs, has plenty of room to get stronger. Solid against the run and can rush the passer as well. Plays a little high at times. Doesn't get great push, but has a variety of moves and the quickness to get into the backfield.
LATROY PITTMAN - Physical receiver with good hands. Not going to "wow" you with speed but his toughness, physicality, and tendency to bring in the tough catch should endear him to fans. Displayed good concentration in traffic. Didn't run a variety of routes, mostly verticals, but showed solid technique on the routes he did run. His speed limits him, but he should be a solid contributor.
BRIAN POOLE - Exceptional speed and athleticism, but not afraid to step up and put a hit on an opposing wide receiver. Played running back in high school as well. Decent ball skills. Height could be an issue, but his speed and physicality can make up for it. Didn't get tested much in coverage in high school, but has good hips and can turn and run with just about anybody and displayed pretty good instincts. Caught guessing a few times and needs to get more disciplined though.
JEREMI POWELL - Should be a Will linebacker. True definition of an athlete. Incredibly raw and undersized, but with a frame to add bulk. Just blitzed almost every play in high school and will need to learn what it takes to be a complete linebacker. That being said, he is tough, he is fast, and he hits hard. Sure tackler and relentless pass rusher. Surprisingly good awareness considering how hard he comes downhill and does a good job recognizing and redirecting on screens and draws.
KENT TAYLOR - The one truly deadly weapon in the passing game that Florida added in this class. Taylor has exceptional hands, runs surprisingly well for his size, and it is evident that he takes a lot of pride in his blocking. Once he bulks up, he will be a serviceable blocker, but will make his way with his ability to catch and run. Can line up anywhere on the field and create match-up nightmares. Needs to become a better route runner, as he took advantage of just being bigger and faster than everyone else on the field in high school.
COLIN THOMPSON - The perfect compliment to a tight end like Taylor. Devastating blocker on the edge. Great technique and strength. Solid as a receiver. Nowhere near the speed of Taylor and not as natural with his hands, but effective. Needs to improve as a route runner and catching the ball at a higher point. Often lets the ball drop to his waist before snatching it, will lead to drops if not corrected. Runs with some power after the catch and difficult for one guy to bring down in the open field. Will great in the red zone because of his size, hands, and blocking ability.
QUINTEZE WILLIAMS - Yet another defensive lineman and possibly the least heralded of all. Ironically though, he may be one of the most physically SEC-ready players in the class. Williams can play both run and pass as well as anyone Florida signed. Very strong and gets good leverage. Also surprisingly quick for his size. With the glut of defensive ends Florida has, I can see him moving inside to defensive tackle. Could see him causing huge match-up issues in passing situations if he does so. His speed in pursuit is only average at best, but does get off the ball pretty quickly. I would not be surprised to see Williams on the field come week one.
Final Thoughts: This class sends a message to the rest of the SEC: You might be faster, you might be more athletic, but you are NOT going to overpower the University of Florida. This was clearly a concerted effort to get bigger, stronger, and tougher at almost every position. Even the skill players they got are gritty and physical players. While this class does lack an explosive playmaker offensively and adds just one quarterback, Coach Muschamp did an incredible job solidifying this team's future in the trenches. As we saw in the National Championship, this is where SEC battles are won and lost, and this group will have the toughness and attitude to go toe-to-toe with anyone in a few years.
Matt Hamilton was a former student assistant for the quarterbacks at Missouri, coach at the high school level in Connecticut and currently works at NFL Films breaking down film for use on the show Playbook on NFL Network.