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 2013 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 was observed from watching their highlight tapes:
CORNERBACK VERNON HARGREAVES III - As the #1 cornerback prospect, I am not surprised to see the level of speed, athleticism and ball skills that Hargreaves possesses. What sets Hargreaves apart however is the physicality of his play. Will compete with bigger receivers for the ball. Will step up in run support without hesitation and lay some hits as well. He is not just a superb athlete, but has incredible football sense as well. Should be a legitimate NFL prospect.
SAFETY MARCELL HARRIS - A physical and athletic safety prospect. A sound tackler and big hitter. Decent speed and very good hands. Has a nose for the ball. Can play in the box and isn't afraid to get involved in the run game. Can cover tight ends 1-on-1, but might have trouble with smaller and quicker receivers. A fierce competitor that clearly takes pride in his physical play. Projects as a better strong safety.
WIDE OUT MARQUI HAWKINS - Good size, hands, and body control. Can make the tough catch. Shifty and difficult to bring down in the open field. All of his big plays were either short completions in space or jump balls. He needs to refine his route running skills in order to continue to make big plays at the college level. May be overlooked because of some of the bigger names in this class, but has the potential to be a major steal.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN OCTAVIUS JACKSON - Good size and strength. Very raw in terms of technique. Doesn't use his lower half well in pass protection. Biggest area of concern is his lateral agility. Much more sound as a run blocker right now. Can impose his will physically. Needs to finish blocks through the whistle. Has the physical tools to become a good offensive lineman at the college level, but needs refinement especially in pass protection. May need a few years to be ready to take the field but could be well worth the wait. Projects as a right tackle or guard.
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN RODERICK JOHNSON - Great combination of size and athleticism. True left tackle prospect. Only concern would be that he played right tackle in high school with a left handed quarterback so it could take some adjustments for him to get comfortable on the other side. Gets to the second level well. Athletic and strong in the run game. Finishes his blocks. Very athletic with good, active feet in pass pro. Team didn't throw much so will need more work in pass protection, but with his athleticism and fundamentals, he shouldn't have any problems.
RUNNING BACK ADAM LANE - Lacking in top-end speed, but a tough, gritty, and physical runner. Will be reliable and get the tough yards. Has excellent vision, above average agility, and superb balance. Not going to wow anyone with big runs. While he has below average speed, he does hit holes fast, which is most important. Average hands. Finishes runs with authority. Not a feature back, but the type of back you need on your team for those tough yards (i.e. goal line and short yardage situations).
SAFETY KEANU NEAL - Athletic, fast, and a huge hitter. A ballhawk, can cover a lot of ground and make plays on the ball and his long reach doesn't hurt either. Can play in the box and is aggressive in run support. Has to work on his 1-on-1 coverage skills, but has the speed and athleticism to improve. Showed great ability to recover when he did get beat, however. Projects best as a free safety. Could make for a dream tandem in the defensive backfield with Harris.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE JARRAN REED - Good size and versatile. Can play as a 1 or 3-tech. Strong enough to hold up double teams and quick enough to beat guards 1-on-1 and make plays. Needs to work on using his leverage to generate more push. Physically ready to play in the SEC but needs more work on his technique, specifically maintaining his leverage and not getting stood up.
DEFENSIVE LINEMAN ANTONIO RILES - Listed at defensive end, but may project better eventually as a tackle. Limited pass rush moves. Slow feet, even comes to a stop at times. Great upper body strength. Hard worker, never quits on a play. He has the type of size and strength you can't teach, but is incredibly raw. Might be best continuing to bulk up and move inside to tackle. With work on his footwork and his pass rushing skillset, he could become a formidable player in a few years.
DEFENSIVE END JORDAN SHERIT - Superb athlete and pass rusher. Quick off the snap and absolutely relentless in pursuit of the quarterback. Very active hands and feet. Shoots gaps in the run game and makes plays. Needs to get in the weight room and bulk up, but he has the frame to do it without sacrificing speed and athleticism. Needs to improve holding the edge against the run and not just trying to make plays. Could be a star with the right weight program and coaching.
QUARTERBACK MAX STAVER - An intriguing prospect with a lot of upside. Strong arm with great touch on his intermediate and deep throws. While he isn't fast, he is shockingly athletic and shifty for his size and can run the read option and be effective when scrambling. Has a compact delivery and quick feet. Needs to work on his weight transfer to maximize his arm strength and get more consistent with his mechanics, but has the size, athleticism, arm strength, and touch to be something special in a few years.
WIDE OUT CHRIS THOMPSON - The Gainesville product didn't have a ton of offers, but probably should have. Maybe it is because there isn't anything physically spectacular about him, but the kid is a good football player. Not tall but tall enough and not blindingly fast, but has plenty of speed to succeed at the college level. One of the few high school receivers I've seen tape on this year that has big plays off of routes other than screens and goes. Shifty in the open field and has very good hands. Is a hands catcher. Will need to work on refining his route running technique and getting his hands consistently in the proper position on some catches. Has all the makings of a very good receiver.
PUNTER JOHNNY TOWNSEND - Strong and accurate leg with good hang time. Still needs some work with his technique to speed up his get off times and to maximize what he can get on it. No film of him as a kicker, purely as a punter, but I'm sure he will receive work at both spots in practice.
SAFETY NICK WASHINGTON - Projects best as a free safety. Stiff hips, struggles in 1-on-1 coverage. Doesn't come up much in run support. Plays the ball well and will come up with interceptions. Can cover a lot of ground sideline to sideline. Still needs a lot of work to become a complete safety. Will lay some hits on receivers, but needs to step up more against the run.
TIGHT END TREVON YOUNG - A very intriguing, raw, and athletic prospect. At 6'5, 274 lbs and as a former D-II basketball recruit, there are rumors of him playing some TE when he gets to Gainesville. He does have the size and athleticism to play tackle as well if he continues to bulk up. Good footwork and lateral agility. Gets to the second level very well. Needs to finish blocks and play with a little more edge at times. Very interested to see how Muschamp ends up utilizing Young's talents.
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.