February 5, 2007

Rivals5: Top five stories in Florida

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The state of Florida has hundreds of Division I-A prospects.

The three in-state college football powers can do well recruiting their back yards, but they have to fight amongst themselves while staving off other programs.

USC, Notre Dame, Nebraska and most of the Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences recruit Florida high schools for talent.

The Sunshine State always produces its share of interesting storylines during a given recruiting season. Here's a look at what we think are the five top storylines in Florida recruiting this year.

Rivals5: Top five stories in Florida

1) Gator dominance

Florida is coming off a national championship season, so it's no surprise the Gators are recruiting at a high level.

Florida landed the state's top two prospects (defensive tackle Torrey Davis and offensive guard James Wilson). Coach Urban Meyer and his staff currently have commitments from eight of the top 16 prospects in the state (and 16 of the top 100).

The Gators could get a seventeenth if Glades Central's Deonte Thompson - Rivals.com's No. 49-ranked player - commits later this week.

Florida also took seven prospects from national powerhouse Lakeland High.

2) Noel Devine

The most enigmatic prospect during the last five years, North Fort Myers running back Noel Devine has been a favorite of media of all forms. He has been hyped, worshiped and scrutinized.

Funny thing is, his actual comments to anyone in the media have been few and far between. His coach/spokesperson James Iandoli is one of the most frequently quoted high school coaches in the history of recruiting.

The ultra-talented Devine doesn't plan on announcing his college decision until after Signing Day. That move puts him in a group with Ricky Jean-Francois and Vidal Hazelton, two other highly regarded prospects who signed late in the last two years.

3) Allen spurns Gators for Irish

In perhaps the biggest recruiting surprise in the state this year, Hialeah-Miami Lakes running back Armando Allen - who was long considered to be a lock to play at Florida - committed to Notre Dame in December.

An 11th-hour in-home visit from Irish head coach Charlie Weis, along with the decision by Notre Dame to allow Allen to enroll for the spring semester, turned the tables in favor of the Fighting Irish.

4) Year of the sleeper at Florida State

In most years, Florida State is competing for the top class in the country. A limited amount of scholarships, coaching staff changes and an up-and-down season on the field are pointing to a top-15 or top-20 finish this year.

However, that doesn't mean the Seminoles aren't bringing a very good group of players to campus. Florida State may have signed more under-the-radar sleepers this year than any BCS Conference team that recruits the state.

Madison County cornerback Bernard Brinson, Mayo Lafayette linebacker Aaron Gresham and Deland offensive lineman Will Furlong all flew under the radar but have talent and the potential to contribute at FSU.

5) Robert Marve

Miami was able to add quarterback depth when they got a commitment from Tampa Plant quarterback Robert Marve. Marve, who was previously committed to Alabama, decided to switch to the Hurricanes in January. His move was based in part on Mike Shula being replaced at Alabama by Nick Saban and Randy Shannon taking over for Larry Coker at Miami.

Marve had a storybook season, leading Plant to the state championship and emerging as one of the best quarterbacks in the Southeast.

Coincidentally, former Hurricanes quarterback commit Nick Fanuzzi - who played high school football at San Antonio (Texas) Churchill - has now committed to Alabama.


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