Florida Gators add commitments from LB Lawson, S Neal to cap a remarkable Junior Day haul

By Adam Silverstein
February 18, 2012

One of the most eventful recruiting days in recent memory for the Florida Gators came to a close Saturday evening with two more commitments as linebacker Dillan Lawson (Crestview, FL) and four-star safety Keanu Neal (Bushnell, FL) announced their intentions to play in Gainesville, FL in the fall.

Both commitments, which came in the early evening after Florida had already received four other pledges during the day, brought the Gators’ total to six on their second Junior Day of the 2013 recruiting cycle.

Four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) was the first to announce his decision at 9 a.m. He was joined later in the day by four-star wide receiver Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, FL), four-star linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, FL) and four-star safety Nick Washington (Jacksonville, FL).

Lawson, a relative unknown in recruiting circles, is 6’4” and 215 lbs. and also claims offers from Florida State, Louisville and North Carolina. Though he can also put his hand down as a defensive end, it is likely that head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will try him out at the Buck linebacker position.

Neal, on the other hand, is a highly rated strong safety with enough size at 6’0” and 204 lbs. to move to linebacker. A member of the ESPNU 150 watch list, he chose to commit to Florida despite also having offers from Georgia Tech, South Carolina and South Florida and originally saying he did not plan to make a decision until after his senior season.

“I talked [defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson]. He has a defensive scheme that fits perfect for me,” Neal told ESPN.com. “He has it where the safety, which would be me, moves down in to the box and plays almost like a linebacker. I have done that in the past, so that fits perfectly for me. I can also drop back in pass coverage.”

The Gators’ last two commitments bring UF’s total to six on Saturday and 10 for the 2013 class. All 10 are from the state of Florida, eight are ranked in the initial Rivals250 and nine are candidates for the first ESPNU 150 of the recruiting cycle.

Among the Gators’ pledges are four linebackers, a defensive tackle, two safeties, two running backs and a wide receiver. Below are links to the commitment stories of the other eight players, six of whom announced their decisions Saturday.

Jan. 21: Four-star running back Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL) – Story
Jan. 28: Four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL) – Story
Feb. 2: Four-star linebacker Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL) – Story
Feb. 2: Four-star linebacker James Hearns (Tallahassee, FL) – Story
Feb. 18: Four-star running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) – Story
Feb. 18: Four-star wide receiver Rodney Adams (St. Petersburg, FL) – Story
Feb. 18: Four-star linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, FL) – Story
Feb. 18: Four-star safety Nick Washington (Jacksonville, FL) – Story

Photo Credits: Rivals.com (five of six)


  1. Alex says:


    • Tim says:

      No one has ever said he can’t recruit. He is a great recruiter. It’s also not exactly difficult to get good players to come to Florida.

      The problem is he has troubling closing on those late undecided guys which are a lot of times some of the biggest gets. Even when he has had the edge the whole time. Guys like Howard and Diggs this year.

      • Alex says:

        I think what folks tend to forget is these are 17-year-olds we’re talking about. These are not calculated adults who make pragmatic decisions. They are kids who will take a visit to a school, see one hot girl, and decide to change their mind on where they want to go. Diggs was an attention-craver who probably just wanted to take a few trips around the country. If he committed to Randy Edsall (!) at Maryland (!) when half the roster has already transferred (!) that’s hard to say that it was our coach’s fault. Sounds to me like the kid wanted to go to Maryland all along.

        The bottom line is when you’re talking to a loose cannon, it’s less about our coach “closing” and more about where the kid’s head is in the first place.

  2. SC_Gator says:


  3. John S. says:

    Wow, incredible job. Welcome to gator nation class of 2013. We are glad to have you.

  4. obgator says:

    I always wondered if coach boom would use the texas model and lock up the next class before summer even rolls around. I see why he couldn’t really do it with this initial classes, but I like where things are headed. We are going to be loaded on defense for a long time…I just hope we can get the big playmaking wrs too.

    • Tim says:

      I don’t like the Texas model. Texas tries to pressure guys into committing early. They tell them they only have so many scholarships and if they don’t commit now then they can’t promise their will be one later for them.
      This is a bad strategy imo because you end up knocking yourself out of the race for some big time recruits for the certainity of a lesser guy.

      I don’t think it maximizes our potential at all.

  5. KB says:

    Off to a great start. Hopefully UF can ride this momentum into NSD next year with the #1 overall class. I was worried that local Florida kids that went out of state on NSD 2K12 would be a bad omen for UF in the future. Looks like Champ is out to put that notion to bed. Glad Kelvin Taylor committed early but I guess that may be a wrap on recruiting Derrick Henry and pulling him away from UGA’s 2K13 class. Keep up the good work Champ on the recruiting trail so that the ship can be righted! GO GATORS!

  6. Nick says:

    The million dollar question now is if Coach Muschamp will be around long enough to reap the benefits of the 2013 class or if he is instead laying the ground work for the next guy? If I had to vote now, I would go with the latter.

    • Alex says:

      Seriously? Meyer only won one more game than Muschamp in his first season, and he had much better talent to work with. Zook left the players who won the ’06 title. Meyer left John Brantley, Stonehands Thompson, no offensive line to speak of and a fleet of miniature running backs. With how our defense looked (pretty good when they weren’t gassed by lack of depth), we’ll win some games if we can score a couple points.

      • Nick says:

        Dude I don’t see things improving much for the offense this season. Its going to be 1 of 2 guys who struggled mightly last season under center, behind a turnstile of an O-line with who exactly stepping up at WR and relying on a RB who hasn’t even stepped on campus to carry the running game? People cried and moaned about last year Rainey and Demps not being “real RBs” but the offense is now missing those type of playmakers completely.

        • Alex says:

          The point is, Jeremy Foley is smart enough not to fire him. He nearly matched Meyer’s inaugural record with a team that wasn’t nearly as talented. JF knew when he hired Muschamp that there would be a transition requiring time to get us back to success. He’s not going to fire a guy after two years. Now, if he Zooks it and only wins 7 in his third season, which will include this 2013 class, then he’s done. No way Foley fires him after this season, unless we literally lose every game.

  7. Kincaide says:

    Boom! Baby! Tired of naysayers! Bleed Orange and Blue! Always a Gator! Nice start!

  8. cline says:

    Gator Baseball!!!!!! Was it a sweep?

  9. Razzlegator says:

    Only two lineman in the potential class of ’13. Got to get that number way up.

    • Alex says:


  10. Obgator says:


    Seems like we are very limited this cycle. 16 schollies or so. Grabbing guys early seems to work well in terms of having the committed guys recruit for you. Of course we risk losing the guys who wait til nsd but everyone takes that risk by holding at least a handful of schollies for big names.

    • Alex says:

      Huh? We’re not limited at all. We only have 17 kids enrolling in the fall (23 total – 6 EE). That means we can take 5 EE players plus a full 25 who come on campus in the fall of 2013. That’s 30 players. That’s a lot.

    • Daniel M. says:

      Obgator, don’t you mean 16 remaining? Ten guys have committed which would leave 15 remaining. There are also 2 unused from last cycle so they could be used as early enrollees for a total of 27. Throw in a handful of academically ineligibles or transfers or KOTFWA’s (kick off team for weed arrest…lol..sad but TRUE) and The Gators could be approaching 30 scholarship players in this cycle. I don’t know what other hocus pocus the staff has up their sleeve but there is probably something.

      • Right now it is estimated that Florida can sign about 17 total with no more attrition.

        • Alex says:

          Me no good at math

          • The maximum amount of commits you can take is directly tied to the number of scholarships you have available. Just because the max allowed by the SEC is 25 does not mean a team has room for 25.

          • Alex says:

            Yeah, I didn’t know the rule applied there as well – I thought we could sign a full class anyways. I guess that’d be pretty messed up since we’d be allocating scholarships we don’t have, so that makes sense. Anyways, hopefully we can make it 18 since AC Leonard needs to get shipped out to Northern Alabama. I know they’re not gonna kick him off, but dangit they should.

    • Tim says:

      I think with only 16-17 scholarships getting guys to commit early isn’t as important. We can afford to only target the elite caliber players.
      This is where I think a 4 star in the hand isn’t worth a 5 star in the bush.

      • Daniel M. says:

        WOWzers! Didn’t consider the 85 limit. The Gators signed 23 last cycle and had a bunch of transfers.

        1) Seven schollies left? Will, please sign SEVEN Wr’s, thank you.
        2) The 85 limit will promote a competitive balance across the board. Better pick good ones.
        3) The limit results in an enormous amount of importance going towards player development and S&C.

        What is the total roster capacity limit including walk-ons? I remember counting over 100 players on the sidelines years ago. I think I counted 105 dressed guys once during the Spurrier era.

  11. obgator says:

    I knew I wasn’t totally out of it when I said we have about 16 left (without accounting for attrition). Regardless, I’m much more curious about Adam’s take on us getting another RB.

    We have Lane and Taylor, so I’d be surprised to see us even go after one more. I thought I read a quote from Taylor in an espn piece that seemed to indicate that we “probably” wouldn’t be going after anymore guys at that spot. Do you think we lose KT if we look to add one more RB?

    I say 3 more OL and no more RBs.

    • Florida wants three. The third could be a hybrid RB/slot WR (someone who can play either position) but they want three capable of playing RB. Taylor said he thought they weren’t going to go after another. I disagree. No, Florida won’t lose him.

  12. Courtney says:

    thanks adam great job as usual, of all the gator sites i look at this one is always on top of the game. 10 commits in feb has got to be gator record, great job with taylor always good to get legacies. great job gator staff Boom!.

  13. MAR says:

    I like our running backs. I think MGill, MBrown, MJones, HJoyer, and TBurton have potential we have yet to see. It’s time to give them the rock. They have been waiting in the shadows (shadows half their size) and have not been utilized. Throw in KTaylor and ALane, we do not need more RBs! WRs, trench bullies and CBs are needed.

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