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Gators win recruiting war

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Florida won the recruiting crown in nearly as dominating fashion as the national championship.

Florida football coach Urban Meyer had at least 27 reasons to smile during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. The Gators signed the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Florida football coach Urban Meyer had at least 27 reasons to smile during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. The Gators signed the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation.

The Gators capitalized on January's national title win over Ohio State and down years from Sunshine State rivals Florida State and Miami to bring in the top recruiting class in the country Wednesday.

"No one is even that close to them," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of CSTV. "They got help everywhere. In the past 10 years, this has to rank right at the top in recruiting classes. Every position is absolutely loaded."

The Gators also were picked as the top class by SuperPrep, Rivals.com and National Blue Chips, beating out Southern California, Southeasatern Conference rivals South Carolina, Tennessee and Louisiana State and Texas.

The Trojans closed strong, adding top running backs Joe McKnight from Louisiana and Broderick Green from Arkansas on Wednesday to a class that already included another top back in Marc Tyler; defensive end Everson Griffen, SuperPrep's No. 1 overall player; the nation's No. 1 receiver, Ronald Johnson from Michigan; and blue chip linebacker Chris Galippo from Anaheim, Calif.

"USC continues to be the place that a lot of skill-position players look to first," said analyst Bobby Burton of Rivals.com. "That doesn't mean the guys they get on defense aren't special. It just means they have the pick of the litter when it comes to offensive skill players."

But the Gators' class was best of all, signing eight of the top 16 players in talent-rich Florida and the No. 1 players from South Carolina, Indiana, Maryland and New England, according to Rivals.com.

A coaching change at Miami and another down year for Florida State played a key part in the Gators' success.

"They play an exciting brand of ball on offense and defense and a lot of kids want be in that situation," said Allen Wallace, the national recruiting editor for Scout.com and publisher of SuperPrep magazine. "There's no question they've moved into the catbird seat in Florida."

Florida's haul was part of a banner recruiting year for the SEC, where Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia and Alabama all received at least one top-10 ranking.

"The SEC is loaded," Burton said. "They are year in and year out the most talented conference. But even this is unusual."

The biggest surprise was at South Carolina, where Steve Spurrier brought in a top-10 class to a school that normally struggles to attract blue chip players.

"Of all the teams, they may have helped themselves the most because they didn't have the depth of the teams ahead of them," Lemming said. "South Carolina could show marked improvement because of this class. They not only had quality, they had quantity."


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