SEC: Ja'Juan Story

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In the last decade, more than any other time in its history, Florida's status as a recruiting juggernaut has been proven.

Once head coach Steve Spurrier established his alma mater among college football's elite, blue-chip talent started flocking to UF. The Gators also recruited well under Spurrier's replacement, Ron Zook. Then Florida won two national championships with coach Urban Meyer.

The fact that Florida has thrived on the recruiting trail despite Meyer's soap-opera departure and some sub-par seasons on the field is a testament to the strength of the brand.

This week we count down the five most impactful UF recruiting classes in the last decade, not including Florida's most recent class, which isn't even fully assembled on campus yet.

No. 5 on our list in order of impact is the Class of 2011, head coach Will Muschamp's first class, which was ranked No. 12 by ESPN.

[+] EnlargeLoucheiz Purifoy
AP Photo/John RaouxLoucheiz Purifoy's big-play ability at cornerback allowed him to stand out in three seasons at Florida and should get him selected high in this year's NFL draft.
The stars: This is easy. Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy became lockdown cornerbacks and were the only three-and-done players from this 19-man class. Roberson made an instant impact, starting his first 10 games as a true freshman, and Purifoy first emerged as a special-teams terror. By the end of their college careers, the two clearly established NFL pedigree -- Roberson for his advanced technique, Purifoy for his supreme athleticism. They are expected to be picked no lower than the second round this May.

The contributors: Several players stand out in this class, including a few starters. Among them, starting quarterback Jeff Driskel is the one who could still push his way into the star category if he improves during his final two seasons of eligibility. Other starters have carved out significant roles for themselves, including fullback Hunter Joyer, safety Jabari Gorman and tight ends Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook. Valdez Showers successfully converted from safety to running back last season. And Kyle Christy was a record-setting punter who stumbled in 2013 and will fight to take his job back this year.

The letdowns: Some of the top talents in this class never panned out at UF, as eight of the 19 players transferred and one quit football after injuries derailed his career. The biggest name to transfer was QB Jacoby Brissett, who started four games at Florida but left for NC State after losing the competition for the starting job to Driskel. WR Ja'Juan Story, TE A.C. Leonard, RB Mike Blakely and S De'Ante Saunders were four of the Gators' five highest-rated recruits in the class. Transfers Story, Blakely and WR Javares McRoy were recruited by Meyer for his spread-option offense and never quite fit Muschamp's pro-style scheme. Leonard and Saunders made strong impressions on the field, but both ran afoul of the law and transferred to Tennessee State.

The results: There have been high points, such as an 11-win season in 2012 in which Florida was just one Notre Dame loss away from playing for the national championship. But there have been more low points, such as a 7-6 season in 2011 and a numbing 4-8 season in 2013. The results on the field have been uneven, but there's still time for this class to distinguish itself.
Alabama could be without one of its top young receivers for the 2012 season, as true freshman Chris Black will miss three to four months after injuring his shoulder during practice on Sunday.

Nick Saban said Black will need surgery to repair his shoulder.

Black, who was part of a highly-touted receiver class for the Crimson Tide, enrolled at Alabama in January. By all accounts, he had a pretty solid spring and caught three passes for 61 yards and a 44-yard touchdown in Alabama's spring game.

The former Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast standout was the No. 2-rated wide receiver coming out of high school and had the potential to be a deep-play threat in Alabama's offense.

"He wants to play so bad he can't see straight," Saban told reporters Thursday. "This is one of the unfortunate things. We feel bad for him, but everybody here is going to be very, very supportive, and he's going to be an excellent player for us in the future."

The good news for Alabama is there is good depth at receiver. Juniors Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell are looking to make names for themselves this season, while the team has been impressed by youngsters Amari Cooper, who enrolled early, Eddie Williams and Cyrus Jones. Sophomores DeAndrew White and Christion Jones also have big-play potential.

DGB getting work at tight end

With injuries piling up at tight end for Missouri, freshman Dorial Green-Beckham got some work there Thursday. While he ran with the third-team offense behind Bud Sasser and Brandon Holifield, it sounds like he was a matchup issue lining up in the slot.

This really shouldn't come as a surprise, as there was talk coming out of Mizzou's camp this spring that Green-Beckham would get a look at the tight end/Y-position this fall. With his size and speed, he could really frustrate defenses inside. His size and speed makes him a natural mismatch, especially for opposing linebackers, through the middle of the field.

Overall, DGB has reportedly been turning heads both inside and out for the Tigers thus far in camp.

Tennessee moves practice east

The Vols are gearing up for what they hope is the ultimate bonding experiment, as their practices have been moved to Milligan College in Elizabethton for the next six days.

"We wanted to do this to limit ourselves from the distractions and simulate what used to be very common as it relates to team chemistry and getting to know each other, building leadership and togetherness," coach Derek Dooley said.

Improving on the chemistry of this team was a top goal for this coaching staff heading into the fall, and this road trip could certainly help with that.

While Tennessee's team is on the road, all of the football offices and operations will be moved into Tennessee's new football training center.

Dooley also announced a couple of injuries Thursday. Highly-touted junior college wide receiver transfer Cordarrelle Patterson missed Thursday's practice with a shoulder sprain. The good news for the Vols is Dooley said the injury isn't expected to be serious.

However, freshman linebacker Kenny Bynum could be out for while after tearing his meniscus. Surgery is still being evaluated.

Ja'Juan Story transferring from Florida

The Gators have parted ways with reserve wide receiver Ja'Juan Story, coach Will Muschamp announced Friday.

Story, who signed with Florida in 2011 but had yet to play a down for the Gators, met with Muschamp on Thursday to inform him of his intentions of leaving.

"Ja'Juan came me to Thursday afternoon and indicated that he wanted to transfer," Muschamp said in a statement through the school. "He just felt like this wasn't a good fit for him and he needed a fresh start. Ja'Juan is a good student and was a good teammate and we wish him the best of luck."

Story redshirted in 2011, but spent the year on Florida's scout team. He's the fourth player to transfer from Muschamp's first class at Florida.

Ole Miss QBs still even

Another practice is in the books at Ole Miss, and the quarterback position is still unclear. Through the ups and downs from the first week of fall practice, Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace are still even, coach Hugh Freeze says.

"It's a process," Freeze said. "They are getting better. Yesterday and today they took steps in the right direction. We still made some very poor decisions at times, but everything is still relatively new to them. Even though they had some practices in the spring, they shared those reps with four guys. You do see them getting better, and they did make some really nice throws today.

"Right now I don't feel that there is enough to say that one is ahead. I think you're going to see both of them play the first few weeks."

GatorNation links: WR preview

March, 1, 2012
Michael DiRocco writes Insider: With inconsistent Andre Debose as the Gators' lone play-making wide receiver, this spring will be an open audition for several players to step up and fill a desperate need.
Now that we are done looking at 10 true freshmen from the SEC West who could make impacts on their teams this fall, it’s time to look at the youngsters in the East.


Marcus Roberson, CB/S: With Janoris Jenkins gone, Roberson could come right in this fall and compete for solid playing time. He’s a bigger corner at 6 feet, 170 pounds and could wind up at safety, where the Gators are pretty thin. He has great field instincts and will play somewhere this fall.

Ja’Juan Story, WR: Story was a raw athlete in high school and played more quarterback than receiver during his senior year, but at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, he will be one of Florida’s biggest receiving targets. He’ll need some time to develop, but should be a nice, lengthy weapon in Charlie Weis’ offense.


Isaiah Crowell, RB: He arrives in Athens with a ton of hype. Georgia has yet to find its feature back and Crowell has all the talent to be that player. Some think he could start by the midpoint of the season. He was the nation’s top running back and in 2010 he rushed for 1,721 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Malcolm Mitchell, WR: Mitchell played both sides of the ball in high school, but Georgia’s staff really likes what he could do at receiver. He’s a tremendous athlete and will get a chance to earn playing time for the fall, especially with some unproven receivers already on Georgia’s roster.


Josh Clemons, RB: Raymond Sanders might have left spring as the starting running back for the Wildcats, but Kentucky is still looking for help at the position. Clemons will get a chance to get in the backfield rotation after rushing for more than 2,000 and have 25 touchdowns during his senior year of high school.


Jadeveon Clowney, DE: Clowney will enter preseason camp with a mound of expectations. He was the country’s top high school player last year, and even though there is a lot of talent on South Carolina’s defensive line, it will be hard to keep him off the field with his freakish ability. He recorded 162 tackles, including 29 tackles for loss, 29.5 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, six recovered fumbles and scored five touchdowns last fall.


A.J. Johnson, LB: He has the size and strength to play in the middle, but has the athleticism to play off the edge as well. With Tennessee needing a lot of help at linebacker, Johnson will get a shot at playing time. He registered 186 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, one sack and one interception during his senior year.

Curt Maggitt, LB: He’s another linebacker who will be in the mix for playing time this fall. He played outside in high school and has great speed coming off the edge. He’ll need to add some pounds, but should be one of the fun youngsters to watch this fall in Knoxville.


Jake Bernstein, OL: Bernstein was a solid tackle in high school, but with so many questions surrounding Vanderbilt’s offensive line, he could move around once preseason camp begins. He could line up at center or guard.

Josh Grady, QB: Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is very excited about getting Grady out on the practice field. He comes in as a quarterback, but he’s dynamic enough that he could play other positions as well. He accounted for 3,061 yards of offense and 26 touchdowns. He also had five interceptions.



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