Print and Go Back ESPN.com: On The Trail: Southeast Region [Print without images]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Recruits watching: Florida State-Florida

By Derek Tyson and Jared Shanker

The annual Florida-Florida State game is usually one of the top games in the country. This year, with Florida’s disappointing season, the game seems to have lost some luster. Florida State, however, is fighting for a chance to make it to the BCS National Championship game in January. The Gators would like nothing more to ruin their archrival’s season, especially in front of several top recruits. Here’s a closer look at which recruits will be watching this weekend.

Florida

DE Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross): The five-star defensive end is scheduled to be on an unofficial visit to Florida this weekend. The Gators were the team to beat at one point, but Georgia has surged to the top of Carter’s list recently, with Alabama still in heavy contention. An impressive performance could go a long way for this talented athlete.

Thomas Holley
Brooklyn (N.Y.) Lincoln defensive tackle Thomas Holley is scheduled to make an official visit to Florida this weekend.
DT Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln): This 6-foot-4, 303-pound defensive lineman will be on an official visit to Florida this weekend. The Gators have a serious need at defensive tackle, and though Holley’s technique is still raw, he has a ton of potential that Will Muschamp would love to get to Gainesville. The Gators would like to make a big impression on the talented defender.

OT David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence): The No. 18 player in the ESPN 300 also will be making his official visit to Florida. The four-star lineman was set to announce his decision, but for personal reasons decided to push it back until after Thanksgiving. The Gators are thought to now be the leader and a win could cement the Gators as the team to beat. An embarrassing loss, on the other hand, could have a negative effect.

WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayettville, Ga./Saddlebrook College): This junior college prospect, who was once committed to Tennessee, will be taking his official visit to Florida. The Gators would like to take another receiver in addition to Ermon Lane in this class, and Lauderdale fits the mold of the Gators are looking for.

LB Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee): The No. 65 player in the country will be on an official visit to Florida this weekend. Ole Miss and Vanderbilt have been at or near the top of Morgan’s list for quite some time. An impressive win by the Gators could give Morgan something to think about. The Gators have been depleted by injuries at linebacker this year and Morgan would have an opportunity to play early and often next season.

Note: Running back Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central) was scheduled for an official visit, but has a playoff game on Saturday and will not be able to attend, nor watch the game.

Florida State

DB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover): Things have quieted on the Humphrey front after the five-star cornerback checked out FSU on consecutive weekends. Still, the Seminoles are in a tight, two-team race, and regardless of where the Noles stand on Nov. 27, it is going to be tough to pull the nation’s second-ranked corner away from Alabama. An undefeated season would likely set up a cakewalk ACC title game and an appearance -- possibly against Alabama -- in the national championship game.

WR Travis Rudolph (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman): The Noles are trying to put a bow on the ESPN 300 prospect and No. 7 receiver, but Rudolph is not cooperating just yet. While it looks as if Florida State is out front, Jimbo Fisher is not resting easy here. Rudolph, ranked No. 61 in the ESPN 300, took a recent visit to Auburn for the phenomenon on the Plains against Georgia and has an official visit set to Alabama next month. He will be unofficially visiting Gainesville for Saturday’s game, and the Gators were one considered the favorite.

DE Chad Thomas (Miami/Booker T. Washington): The Miami commitment is planning visits but said it will be no easy task pulling him from the Canes. Would blowouts of both in-state rivals be reason enough for Thomas to go ahead and officially visit Florida State, as he plans? Defensive line commit Dexter Wideman very well could sign with South Carolina, which could then cause to turn up the heat on Thomas. Florida State and Florida are heading in opposite directions, and the Canes’ three-game losing streak raises concerns that the Seminoles and Hurricanes are on separate planes, too.

DE CeCe Jefferson (Glen Saint Mary, Fla./Baker County): One of the country’s top juniors, Jefferson named Florida his leader following a summer visit, and now he will be back in The Swamp for the game. He is coming off a mid-November visit to Florida State, however, and his first time in Tallahassee could not have gone better. The No. 28 player in the ESPN Junior 300 said he “absolutely loved” his FSU visit. He declined to answer whether Florida State made up ground or even surpassed the Gators following his FSU visit, however. Could the momentum be shifting in FSU’s favor?

The offensive line targets: The offensive line is priority No. 1 for the Seminoles, and there are as many as seven linemen that the Seminoles have a legitimate chance to sign. Florida State could add another three or four offensive linemen, and most will be keeping an eye on the Noles. Juco offensive tackle Chad Mavety (Garden City, N.Y./Nassau) is down to FSU and Ohio State, and fellow juco lineman Kareem Are (Fort Scott, Kan./Fort Scott C.C.) has the Noles as his No. 1. Fisher could pull top-five offensive tackle Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara) from the grips of Maryland as well. Roderick Johnson (Florissant, Mo./Hazelwood Central), No. 156 in the ESPN 300, is also high on Florida State. Four-star offensive tackle Frank Ragnow (Victoria, Minn./Chanhassen) will make an official visit soon.