Gators reel in ‘class for the ages'

On national signing day, the Florida coach got premium quality to replenish the roster that won two national titles in the past four years. ESPN and the scouting service Scout.com ranked the Gators’ class the nation’s best. Rivals.com ranked them No. 2.

"They definitely have a class for the ages, per se," said Scout recruiting analyst Chad Simmons.

According to Rivals' rankings, Florida signed two players – defensive end Ronald Powell from California and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd from Pennsylvania -- who were the top-rated players in their states and at their positions nationally. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley from New York was also the top player in his state and second at his position.

"I've gotten myself in trouble in the past by hyping up players who were not yet deserving of it," Urban told reporters in Gainesville, Fla., Wednesday. "But I'm not sure I've seen a defensive front as good as this one. ... I just think in certain areas, it's the best we've ever done."

The Gators also plucked three players from Georgia: Jackson High defensive end Neiron Ball, M.L. King running back Mack Brown and Westlake linebacker Michael Taylor. All three were ranked in the top 25 in the state by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Besides Florida, Rivals and Scout listed eight other common teams in their top 10 rankings: Texas, Southern California, Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Oklahoma, Florida State and UCLA.

One of the day's more noteworthy developments was Auburn's placing fourth, according to Rivals, and fifth with Scout. From 2006 to 2009, Rivals rated Auburn's classes as 10th, seventh, 20th and 19th. Not bad, but those classes were never better than fourth best in the SEC. Their play on the field led to coach Tommy Tuberville's departure at the end of the 2008 season.

Coach Gene Chizik followed an overachieving 2009 season (8-5) with a recruiting class that rivals Alabama's.

"To compete at the level [Auburn and Alabama] are competing at really surprised me after the first year," said Springville (Ala.) High coach Keith Maple, who had a player sign with the Tigers. "But that's what everyone said about Nick Saban" after his first season at Alabama.

Auburn signed four of Scout's top 75 players, including the best players from Arkansas (running back Michael Dyer), Louisiana (wide receiver Trovon Reed) and Mississippi (offensive tackle Shon Coleman).

Said Simmons of the Tigers, "They're arguably the surprise of the year across the country."

Georgia, which, according to Scout, had put together top-five recruiting classes four of the past five years, fell to No. 21 and No. 7 in the SEC. Rivals rated the class as 16th and sixth in the SEC. Losing five-star wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers from Calhoun, the top-rated player in the state, to Tennessee at the last minute was a significant setback.

"They finished second for a lot of guys," Simmons said. "They did a good job and made a good play, but they couldn't seal the deal and close the door for a lot of playmakers."

Georgia Tech's class was 43rd nationally for Rivals and eighth in the ACC. Scout rated it 41st and sixth in the ACC.

Simmons gave the proviso that Tech's ranking can be misleading, as it ofte recruits players especially suited for its option-based spread offense that other schools wouldn't pursue. The class is deep at defensive back; seven cornerbacks or safeties received three-star grades or higher from Scout.

"I think overall, just a very good class," Simmons said.

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