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Florida hauls in talented class

The SportsXchange

Florida coach Will Muschamp said the number of stars next to a recruit's name doesn't mean much to him.

"We commit most of our guys before they ever come out," Muschamp said. "Maybe they look at our ratings."

The Gators landed another impressive recruiting class on National Signing Day. Florida brought in 28 signees, including eight already enrolled on campus. The class is highlighted by five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and running back Kelvin Taylor, the son of former Gator and NFL standout running back Fred Taylor.

"We want guys that got a lot of confidence that they can come and play in the SEC and play in The Swamp and play in the University of Florida," Muschamp said. "But this class is very balanced, it's a high-character class with toughness, and all of the position criteria we look for as far as size and speed, and then all of the off the field things we are looking for."

Overall, Florida's 2013 recruiting class was ranked third in the nation by Rivals and eighth by Scout. The Gators addressed some weaknesses at receiver with the addition of four-star signees Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fullwood.

"Recruiting is all about building relationships," Muschamp said. "You can pull out your tape recorders from the previous two years and we will know about this class in two or three years. It's a developmental game.

TOP OF THE CLASS

CB Vernon Hargreaves III(Wharton High, Tampa, Florida) -- A dynamic cover corner with playmaking ability, Hargreaves already projects as a shut-down corner at the college level and will compete for a starting job right away.

RB Kelvin Taylor(Glades Day School, Belle Glade, Florida) -- The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Taylor has a nice balance of size and speed (4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and strong bloodlines (son of former Gators and Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor). He'll figure in the mix as a freshman in Florida's run-first offensive attack.

LB Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing Area JSHS, Wyomissing, Pa.) -- Anzalone flipped from a prior commitment at Notre Dame to sign with the Gators. At 6-foot-3, 220, Anzalone projects as an edge rusher with some run-stopping ability who should fit in well with UF's mix of 3-4 and 4-3 defensive sets.

SPRING SNAPSHOT

Practice priorities: The Gators will be looking to develop a consistent downfield passing game to complement its strong ability to run the football. The Gators went 11-2 last season but could take an even bigger step in 2013 with more balance on offense. Defensively, there will be competition for at least eight starting jobs with Locheiz Purifoy's move from CB to WR.

PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2013

--QB Jeff Driskel comes into the spring looking to build on an up-and-down first full season as a starting quarterback. Driskel finished with 1,646 yards passing, 12 TDs and 5 interceptions. He also had 413 yards rushing and 4 TDs, showing his athletic ability on scrambles and red-option players. But Driskel also needs to improve his pocket awareness and ability to progress through his reads in order to take the next step as an efficient passer.

--DE Dominique Easley, who finished with a team-high four sacks last season, decided to return for his senior season instead of declaring for the NFL draft. Easley could move back inside due to the losses of Sharrif Floyd and Omar Hunter,

--LB Antonio Morrison developed a reputation as a hard-hitter as a true freshman. As a sophomore, Morrison will have a chance to win the starting job at MLB with the departure of Jon Bostic. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound Morrison finished his freshman season with 34 tackles, including 2 for loss, 1 sack and a huge forced fumble in UF's 37-20 win over rival Florida State.

--RB Matt Jones will have a chance to win the starting job at running back with the departure of Mike Gillislee. Jones came on late in his true freshman season, finishing with 275 yards on 5.3 yards per carry and 3 TDs. At 6-2, 226 pounds, Jones has a body that's capable of wearing down even SEC defenses.
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