Florida Gators recruits and targets to watch on 2012 National Signing Day (and beyond)

By Adam Silverstein
January 31, 2012

Twenty-one members strong, the Florida Gators’ 2012 recruiting class is hoping to expand by a name or two when the vast majority of uncommitted high school football players across the country announce their decisions on National Signing Day. While a handful of others will make their decisions known before or after the date, all but two of Florida’s remaining targets will be involved in ceremonies Wednesday.

Be sure to visit OGGOA’s live coverage of National Signing Day beginning Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. It will feature a live chat and be constantly updated throughout the day with every signed letter of intent (LOI) and new commitment.

Below OGGOA breaks down who the Gators are still waiting to hear from, when they will learn of their decision and some of the latest insights on each player.

Wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Olney, MD)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 8 overall (No. 2 WR); ESPNU – No. 13 overall (No. 3 WR)
Leaders: Florida, Ohio State
Contenders: Auburn, Maryland
Skinny: Diggs was favoring the Gators for quite some time until offensive coordinator Charlie Weis left for Kansas. However, when new OC Brent Pease took over, Florida was back in his good graces and stepped up to the top of the pack once again. The Gators desperately need a top wide receiver to fill out their 2012 class and Diggs is the primary target. Though he took a trip to Ohio State last weekend and enjoyed himself, it was his first time looking at the program and meeting head coach Urban Meyer. Diggs has said previously that he wants to play in a pro-style offense, and he has likely developed a much stronger relationship with Florida’s coaching staff.
Announcement: Friday, Feb. 10 (nine days after NSD)

Cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 13 overall (No. 1 CB); ESPNU – No. 18 overall (No. 1 CB)
Leaders: Florida, Miami
Contenders: Florida State
Skinny: A long-time UF lean, Howard was all but signed, sealed and delivered to the Gators. That is until he took an official visit to Miami last weekend that may very well have flipped his recruitment on its heels. Closer to his home, family and good friends, Miami is an attractive destination for Howard and is believed to be the new leader for his services even though Florida’s coaching staff has been there for him all along. Whether he decides to stick with what he knows the best (the Gators) or stay closer to home is something only his family truly knows at this point.
Announcement: 9:35 a.m. live on ESPNU

Defensive lineman Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 53 overall (No. 5 DE); ESPNU – No. 50 overall (No. 5 DT)
Leaders: Florida, Southern California
Contenders: Auburn, Miami
Skinny: Having not cut his list down past four for most of his recruitment, Williams told Rivals this past week that UF and USC had made the cut and that he had eliminated Auburn (he chose not to show up for a visit to Miami). Having grown up a Florida fan, he is likely leaning toward the Gators, but Williams has kept his recruitment close to the vest and the truth is that no one truly knows where he will commit at this point.
Announcement: TBD on NSD

Wide receiver Nelson Agholor (Tampa, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 18 overall (No. 3 WR); ESPNU – No. 47 overall (No. 6 WR)
Leaders: Florida, Southern California
Contenders: Florida State
Skinny: Like with Diggs, UF tried hard to land Agholor knowing that the team has issues at wide receiver. The original goal was for Florida to reel in both pass catchers but now the Gators are hoping that either signs on the dotted line before all is said and done. Agholor spent last weekend visiting USC and is considered by most to be leaning towards signing with the Trojans. However, more than perhaps any other recruit, Agholor has been mum when it comes to giving signals where he plans to commit. He has been standoffish with the media and has tried to keep his recruitment an in-house situation. As is the case with Howard, UF appears to have lost momentum (and probably a commitment, too) with Agholor.
Announcement: 12:05 p.m. live on ESPNU

Athlete Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, GA)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 31 overall (No. 2 ATH); ESPNU – No. 17 overall (No. 1 OLB)
Leader: Georgia
Contenders: Florida, Florida State
Skinny: Though the Gators have undoubtedly recruited Harvey-Clemons the longest and perhaps even the hardest, the sentiment surrounding him is that he will wind up staying in-state and playing for the Bulldogs. What was once a two-team race, however, became a three-way dance when the Seminoles got heavily involved two weeks ago. Harvey-Clemons actually spent his final recruiting weekend visiting Miami, but they are not looking like a true contender for his services.
Announcement: 9:15 a.m. live on ESPNU

Offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 74 overall (No. 9 OT); ESPNU No. 61 overall (No. 8 OT)
Contenders: Florida, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia
Skinny: Young’s recruitment is a mystery for many including his high school coaches, who told Rivals that they truly do not know where he is going. Though that same website has four-of-six analysts predicting he goes to UGA, many believe that UF and AU are his two finalists. Offensive line is a position of need for the Gators and though the unit is shallow, Young may not like the fact that five-star OT D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC) is already in the fold and enrolled early at Florida.
Announcement: 2 p.m. live on ESPNU

Defensive end Darius Hamilton (Ramsey, NJ)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 11 overall (No. 2 DE); ESPNU – No. 69 overall (No. 9 DE)
Committed: Rutgers
Skinny: Hamilton was said to be down to two schools – RU and UF – and after learning that head coach Greg Schiano left for the NFL, it was believed that the Gators would emerge as a favorite in his recruitment. However, a weekend trip to UM apparently put the Hurricanes in his final two and knocked Florida down a peg, according to his high school coach. Certainly a strange situation as far as the Gators are concerned considering Hamilton had not been to Miami previously and was thought to be heavily considering Florida even with Schiano in the fold at Rutgers.
Announcement: Tuesday, Jan. 31 at 8 p.m. on MSG Varsity

Defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL)
Accolades: Rivals – No. 28 overall (No. 3 DE); ESPNU – No. 71 overall (No. 10 DE)
Leader: Florida State
Contender: Florida
Skinny: A FSU commitment back on Dec. 5, 2010, Fowler’s father has long been pushing him towards his favorite school and not much was truly expected to change in his pledge. However, UF has been hot after Fowler throughout the whole recruitment process and the prospect has taken multiple unofficial visits to Gainesville, FL and spoken with the Gators’ coaching staff at length about coming in to play the featured Buck linebacker position. After Florida coaches visited his house recently, Fowler took a picture doing the Gator Chomp with his younger brother (a UF fan) that sent fans on both sides into a tizzy. That evening he said he had a decision to make about his future, but Fowler confirmed one day later that he was 100 percent going to commit to the Seminoles. That being said, there is still a glimmer of hope for the Gators, and the coaching staff will try to change his mind and flip him their way at the last minute.
Announcement: 10 a.m. on NSD


Linebacker Shyler Miles (Tampa, FL)
Skinny: Down to Florida, Kansas and West Virginia, Miles has actually already committed to the school of his choice but is staying silent and will announce on Wednesday. He is believed to be leaning toward KU, which means that UF could miss out on both Berkley Prep. teammates (Agholor).
Announcement: 12:05 p.m. live on ESPNU

Defensive end Junior Gnonkonde (Lakeland, GA)
Skinny: A former Georgia Tech commitment, Gnonkonde opened up his recruitment and wound up committing to North Carolina last weekend. However, prior to that, both Florida and Florida State were on his list and it was believed that an offer from either could get him to switch. Should the Gators lose out on any or all of Williams, Hamilton and Fowler, Gnonkonde could get a last-minute offer to join the Orange and Blue.
Announcement: N/A

Offensive lineman Jake Meador (Whiteland, IN)
Skinny: With Florida, Missouri and Wisconsin all hoping Meador picks them as his college destination, the big man is likely headed to one of the latter two schools that have been recruiting him the longest. He recently told Rivals that there are different things he likes about each team but that he will be meeting with his family and high school coach to discuss where he will eventually land.
Announcement: 10:10 a.m. on NSD

Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (Edwardsville, IL)
Skinny: Although Florida is also in Valentine’s final three, Illinois and Nebraska have the lead for his services. In fact, the Gators did not even send coaches to visit him last week when he had in-home meetings with staffers from the Illini and Cornhuskers.
Announcement: 1 p.m. on NSD

Offensive lineman Kyron Samuels (Fairhope, AL)
Skinny: A project at guard and center, Samuels (like Gnonkonde) does not have a committable offer from Florida but did visit the school this past year and may be a prospect the school reaches out to at the last minute.
Announcement: TBD on NSD

OGGOA PREDICTIONS: After being a perfect 3-for-3 on our commitment projections in 2010, we faltered in 2011 and were only 1-of-3 even though the Gators wound up adding a pair of players. Unfortunately for you the reader, like it was in 2011, things are not as clear-cut with Florida as they were two years ago. With major pushes being made for the likes of Howard, who was once thought to be a shoe-in for the class, it is unknown who might or might not join the Gators by the time this process is over. As of press time, OGGOA prognosticates that Diggs and Fowler (a big flip) will be wearing Orange and Blue when the dust settles. Howard would be the most likely player to commit outside of the prediction, and the truth is that a top program like Florida should never be counted out for any player until all is said and done across the board.

Don’t forget to visit OGGOA’s live coverage of National Signing Day beginning Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. Check in and out or stick around for the entire day and participate in the live chat while viewing constant updates throughout the process.


  1. MG says:

    Seems like good class, but weak close could make it seem worse than it is.

  2. sjkoepp says:

    Thanks so much for this Adam. I really hope we can get Diggs and Williams, and I really hope we can stretch for Howard. Lets hope it all works out!

  3. g8ter27 says:

    I agree, if we lose out on all of them it has to be the weakest close we have seen since…..well hell 1979 lol. Seriously, I have to wonder how the hell Miami hosted so many top notch kids this weekend with 32 verbals already and, in Howrad’s case, 5 cb and 2 safeties already. Geez, they have 4 qb verbals in this class, what is Golden telling these guys?

    Diggs will play now at UF and be a star. Agholor will too but if he ends up drinking the Kiffin Koolaid he will be sadly another Kyle Prater in a year or so. USC is the best at promising kids from the east playing time and then having them sit the bench year after year. Hope he chooses right. Williams is definitely a mysterious guy. Thought he was Auburn all the way. Hamilton is another…guess that is why recruiting has become the winter sport of choice down south. Oh, can’t go without saying Miles to Kansas over UF???? Well if he thinks that is a good move..ok I guess.

  4. npgator says:

    Doesn’t sound too positive on any of the uncommitted prospects.

  5. Mr Negative says:

    Gators lose Omari Phillips and Brian Poole. Wiff on Howard, williams, Myles, Diggs, and Agholor. Valentine makes it 20 even for the gators. This class will be a huge bust.

  6. mark says:

    Will, Coffee is for closers!!!

  7. npgator says:

    Mr. Negative should change your name to Mr. Full of Poop!

  8. Daniel M. says:

    I’m not convinced that Agholor wants to go to USC. I say we get Diggs and Ags.

    Let’s not get down on this class people. It is ranked in the top 5 nationally already. It is very successful regardless of what happens tomorrow. Next year, Adam Lane AND Kelvin Taylor.

    I’m not buying into all the negativity. Every program is going through the same thing.

  9. John Hilbert says:

    How could any prospective recruit of the big 3 in Florida not choose UF ? FSU is a bunch of dilapidated buildings in the middle of a run down city. UF has a beautiful spread out campus with state of the art facilities and is a much higher academic accredited institution.UM cannot compare on any front either.I think money and favors must be involved with these future collegiate athletes.

  10. zurbo says:

    I dont understand why any WR from Florida would want to go out west to USC. We have a serious need for WR at UF and USC has no need

    • SC Gator says:

      The secretly want to wind up at places like San Diego St and Northwestern when they become one of the pack of 4 and 5 star recruits that leave USC yearly.

  11. wgator40 says:

    this is gonna be stressful right down to the last min!! go Gators!

  12. Joe says:

    This is a working man’s recruiting class and it’s about damn time. I can guarantee these guys are going to work their tails off for this school and that’s all you can ask of them.

  13. gator says:

    If these kids let goldeee ,jimmyboy or urbiee get in there heads, than they are not strong to be enough Gator Material.

  14. DGLBkGATOR FAN says:

    How can a class be a bust instantly? We will not know until four years from now only reason 2006 class is impressive is because what they did on the field.

  15. CeeThree says:

    stoked for Year 3 of my hanging out in the OGGOA NSD chat tomorrow, thanks for all you do Adam.

  16. Mr2Bits says:

    Work schedule cleared and ready for my annual one on one with Adam. Maybe this year he will open the chat up for posting without approval.

  17. John S says:

    Got to remember that we already have a strong class going into to tomorrow. Hoping for a couple surprises to keep us near the top. We really need people, we should definitely have playing time available, we played last year with a sanction like roster.

    Can’t believe Tracy Howard would want to play in front of 25,000 fans, facing sanctions, and in a weak conference. Plus a lot of the U’s talent left this year.

    • Joe says:

      Plus a lot of the U’s talent left this year.

      I think proximity to home and your above statement have everything to do with his decision. We are pretty stacked in our secondary and Miami can probably offer early PT,

  18. Kincaide says:

    Adam,thank you for your hard work and reliable info all cycle-Gator Fans lets be extremely happy to be where we are at after the year we had on the field.I truly feel that we will close well not amazing but consider the points gap we have with Bama and they have 6 more verbals! We have an opportunity to finish in the top 5- in all three rating systems and have filled the big needs other than WR- I expect to get Diggs and Agholor- he wants to stay closer to home and isn’t deceived by Kiffins BS! Go Gators and let’s be happy about our Coaches hard work not slam them- we will not know until 2014-2015 if this class sorts out!

  19. Mr2Bits says:

    Well that’s that with Hamilton. Can have all the snow, fist pumping and RU Hungry he can handle now.

    • g8ter27 says:

      Considering they lost their coach at the 11th hour, were rejected by their first choice as a replacement, lost a couple of people in the process, he still goes to Rutgers…….that kid was never seriously considering anyone else. Momma got her way but could have been worse…could have ended up at Miami.

  20. jay d says:

    all I care about is…. gators crack the top 10….top 5 would be nice…..need to stay relevant nationally for recruits next year because lord knows we didnt do it on the field this season

  21. Joe says:

    We need 28 to get back to 85. Looks like another probation year. How many slipped through our fingers while the coaching staff wasted their time trying to flip Fowler?

  22. wgator40 says:

    um it looks like we are gonna get Fowler…

  23. SC Gator says:

    It baffles me that anyone would seriously want to go to Miami right now.

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