NCF On The Trail: tracy howard

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There's no consolation prize when you lose a recruiting battle, just an empty feeling and an empty space on the big board.

It hurts even more to lose a player on signing day, when there is no tomorrow and no other players on the big board to turn to.

Under coach Will Muschamp, Florida has had its share of wins on the recruiting trail. It's also had some impactful losses.

Here's a look at some of the top players the Gators missed on in recent years.

2011
ESPN class rank: No. 12


[+] EnlargeTimmy Jernigan
Melina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsThe Gators were once a frontrunner for Timmy Jernigan, but he ended up at FSU where he became one of the nation's top defensive tackles.
It would hardly be fair to pin most of the Gators' head-to-head recruiting losses in this class on Muschamp, who was hired in mid-December 2010. He inherited a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 from then-retired coach Urban Meyer, and Muschamp was commended for keeping the bulk of the class together. For example, Muschamp had less than a week to make an impression on Nick Waisome before the nation's No. 2-ranked cornerback decommitted from Florida and flipped to FSU. Not Muschamp's fault.

But the head coach and his staff did have several weeks to take the recruiting baton and try to close with a couple of uncommitted gems from the state of Florida. The Gators were considered frontrunners at one time for DT Timmy Jernigan and LB Curt Maggitt, who ended up at Florida State and Tennessee, respectively. In both cases, Muschamp was unable to capitalize on his reputation for defense and lost the two prospects to offensive-minded head coaches.

2012
ESPN class rank: No. 4

The Gators suffered a painful loss in January when DE/LB Jordan Jenkins picked Georgia. He was a top priority and the UF coaching staff had put a lot of time and effort into his recruitment. The bad news foreshadowed what can only be described as a signing day nightmare, as Florida struck out with eight uncommitted recruits and another who made his decision shortly thereafter.

Desperate for help at receiver, Florida was spurned by two of the top prospects in the nation, Nelson Agholor (USC) and Stefon Diggs (Maryland), who have already shown flashes of brilliance on the field. The Trojans were also the beneficiary of defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who said he made up his mind on the morning of signing day. Florida was a painfully close second, and Williams made an instant impact as a freshman starter.

Muschamp also felt good about keeping offensive lineman Avery Young in his home state, but he ended up at Auburn, where he started on last season's national runner-up. Another Floridian, the nation's No. 1 cornerback, Tracy Howard, was considered a lock for the Gators until he took a visit to Miami on the last weekend before signing day and changed his mind.

And who could forget the gripping saga of No. 1 outside linebacker prospect Josh Harvey-Clemons? He announced his decision to go to Georgia in the morning on ESPNU's signing day show. His family was shocked. They wanted him close to home in Valdosta, Ga., and thought he would choose UF. The situation turned surreal when his grandfather and legal guardian refused to sign the letter of intent. It took a full day to sort out, but Harvey-Clemons faxed his letter of intent to attend Georgia the morning after signing day.

2013
ESPN class rank: No. 2


The headline in the local newspaper was "Muschamp set up for stress-free signing day". Indeed, most of the drama took place in January when Florida signed eight early enrollees, including three top-rated players who flipped to Florida late in the process. It was a strong rebound for a coach who took some criticism with the way he closed out his class the year before.

But there were some misses, recruits who could have played a big role for the Gators in what turned out to be a woeful 2013.

Cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman DeMarcus Walker, both top-40 prospects in the ESPN 300, picked FSU over Florida. Walker, from Jacksonville, Fla., originally committed to Alabama over UF. When he wavered many thought the Gators would be the beneficiary. Instead he flipped to the Seminoles just before enrolling in January. Ramsey, who had been committed to USC for months, changed his mind when Trojans coach Lane Kiffin came under fire. Instead of choosing the Gators, where his high school teammate QB Max Staver was committed, Ramsey ended up at FSU and made a huge impact as a starter on the Noles' national championship team last season.

Offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, ranked No. 1 at his position and No. 5 overall, was another tough loss. Like Jernigan two years before, Florida was a frontrunner at one time. Both prospects went to the same high school in Lake City, Fla, just 45 minutes north of Gainesville. Tunsil ended up at Ole Miss, where he started all but four games as a true freshman.

Miami is Golden in N.J. with ATH Hester 

December, 15, 2013
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Al Golden said earlier this year that his native state of New Jersey will always be a priority on the recruiting trail at Miami. Sunday, he scored a recruiting win from the Garden State, coming at the expense of the local New Jersey school.

ESPN 300 athlete Kiy Hester (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic) committed to Miami following an official visit to Coral Gables. His pledge to the Hurricanes comes on the heels of a decommitment from Rutgers in November.

Hester announced his commitment on Twitter.

Dalvin CookTom Hauck for Student SportsFlorida went into Miami's backyard to get a commitment from ESPN 300 RB Dalvin Cook, but the Hurricanes aren't exactly ready to concede him to the Gators.
Florida and Miami face off this weekend in what could be the last match up between these two in-state teams for the foreseeable future. The Hurricanes and Gators have had some memorable games on the field, but also some fierce recruiting battles off it. Here's a closer look at 10 recent recruiting battles -- five that Florida won and five that Miami won.


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The one time Crimson Tide commit makes the decision to stay home and play for the Canes, which may end up being the best fit for the speedy cornerback when it comes to early playing time. While Artie Burns (Miami/Northwestern) will need to continue polishing his skill set, Burns has the wheels to line up with some of the faster receivers in college football and may get a chance to do so with Miami sooner than later.

This top-10 corner is still a bit raw in terms of footwork and man-to-man technique, but his raw ability is very exciting and he has one of the higher ceilings in this DB class. Burns has the rare blend of size and speed that coaches covet on the perimeter, particularly in today’s college game with the surge in taller, more explosive receivers on the outside. While speed and quickness may be his best assets, this is a DB with very good instincts and anticipation skills as well which should help in his transition to the next level. His speed often masks his deceptive physicality as well. Burns shows good underneath zone skills, jamming receivers and driving on the ball with striking burst. He can tackle as well and we see a versatile defender who could play in multiple schemes and sub-packages, potentially a very good nickel.

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Four-star ESPNU 150 cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla.) declared for Miami (Fla.) at 9:50 a.m. ET on ESPN. The No. 1 CB in the country selected the Canes over Florida State and Florida.

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ESPNU Signing Day Times

January, 30, 2012
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ESPNU's national signing day coverage kicks off at 9 a.m. ET. Here's the list of the announcements and time for some of the top prospects.

NOTE: Bold names are announcements, all others are interviews.

Miami snatches Tracy Howard's final visit 

January, 25, 2012
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Miami didn’t get a commitment this past weekend but it managed to make the biggest splash when it was confirmed that Miramar, Fla., four-star cornerback Tracy Howard will take his fifth and final visit to Coral Gables -- just 25 minutes from his house.

Howard, the nation’s top-rated cornerback, was thought to be considering LSU or Alabama with his final visit but will stay close and has all but turned this into a three-team, in-state battle between Florida, Florida State and Miami.

All three programs feel very confident they will land Howard, but we expect all three to make a major final push just to be sure.

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Florida four-star CB set to visit USC 

January, 9, 2012
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Four-star cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, Fla./Miramar) will visit USC this weekend, according to his mother, Shaiy Howard.

Howard, who is ranked in the ESPNU 150 as the No. 1 corner and the No. 18 player in the country, was also planning to visit Alabama before signing day, but that visit appears unlikely at this point.

Howard has already visited West Virginia and Florida State and is still planning to visit Florida and LSU before making a decision. Howard’s mother also said that her son’s last visit will likely be to LSU, but the visit dates are not firm.

Howard recently told HornsNation that Florida and LSU were his leaders.

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Howard will delay decision 

December, 17, 2011
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ESPNU 150 cornerback Tracy Howard of Miramar, Fla., is planning to push back announcement date.

The four-star prospect was originally planning on making his final decision on Jan. 7, but he wants to take official visits later in the month.

"I want to go see Alabama and LSU, and I won't be able to see either of them until the middle of January," Howard said. "I'm not going to make a decision until I see those schools."

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