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January 3, 2006

The Florida Hot 11

ANAHEIM, Calif. It was all about the defense last Saturday as the Florida defense shutout California 20-0 in the Air 7 CaliFlorida Bowl.

That's why it's no surprise to see six Florida defenders ranked amongst the top 11 players by Rivals.com recruiting analysts
John Talman and Jeremy Crabtree. The analysts rank the top players on both sides of the ball from the Florida team based upon their entire week of practice and performance in the game.

1. Daron Rose, OT, Tampa (Fla.) Jefferson
Giving away the top spot is tough considering all the talent on the Florida squad this year, but when coaches for the team were calling Rose the best offensive lineman to ever come through the game, it's a little bit easier to give him the nod. At the tackle position last week, Rose looked well-schooled as a prospect and has the size to make him an immediate impact player at the next level. Considering the team was running a fast-paced no-huddle offense during practice, it was obvious that the Rivals100 prospect was an anchor that the coaches could depend on during preparation. During the game Rose was a little banged up a little bit, but he still showed flashes of greatness.

A California defensive lineman says: "
He's a big, big, big boy. He's got some of the longest arms that I've seen on an offensive lineman. I was able to beat him a few times with my speed on the edge, but when he locked on you, it was over."
2. Tim Tebow, QB, Jacksonville (Fla.) Nease Committed to Florida
Tebow has all of the natural talents that college coaches thirst for in a future Division-I signal caller. The strong arm was not the only thing that he showcased last week, but also that uncanny ability to get out of trouble quickly with good speed. While the defense was the story last week, the No. 1 rated dual-threat quarterback in the country lived up to his five-star ranking making plays constantly on the run. It's easy to see how many different things he'll be able to do at Florida in the years to come. He did struggle some in the game on Saturday, but that was more to do with the weather than with his game.

A California linebacker says: "We knew all about Tim Tebow, and we shut him out and he didn't complete a pass against us. But he showed real heart and pounded it out on the ground. I knew he was a good passer, but we didn't know he was this good of a runner."

3. Charles Deas, DT, Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
The three-star defensive tackle was never questioned about his size, but he took a year off of high school football during his senior year to focus on grades. On top of that, Deas showed up late to the CaliFlorida Bowl practices and didn't get started until last Tuesday. It didn't affect him because onlookers were calling him the most physically dominant player on the entire team. During one-on-one battles and during team drills, Deas was a force to be reckoned with. If his grades get in order, he is a first-year player for sure in college.

A Florida defensive lineman says: "Big C was the heart of our defensive line. He would always keep our spirits up in practice, and nobody could beat him in one-on-ones."

4. Marcus Sims, RB/LB, Tallahassee (Fla.) North Florida Christian
So many people spoke about his skills as a linebacker, but filling in for the hampered C.J. Spiller this week showed that the four-star rated Sims is a legitimate threat on offense. His hard running between the tackles makes him a shifty runner that has a nose for getting the tough extra yardage. Sims has the second gear that can make a four-yard gain turn into 20 yards in a heartbeat. He did get sidelined early in the game on Saturday with an apparent ankle injury, and with the conditions as bad as they were it was easy to see why he stayed out. It still didn't diminish what he accomplished in practice all last week.

A Florida running back says: "I was surprised at how good of a running back he was. Everybody always reads about him being a linebacker in college and they know about his brother, but he proved to me all week that he's more than good enough to be a college running back."

5. A.J. Jones, LB, Tampa (Fla.) Middleton
From the first day, even though the defensive backs and defensive lineman were catching the coaches' eyes, the four-linebacker Jones was quietly making plays in consistent fashion. Jones showed his quick feet and made not only quick plays, but followed that up with a big hit when he got there. His progression at the linebacker spot made him quite the player this week.

A California offensive lineman says: "The other Florida guys were stronger or maybe a little better in other areas, but nobody was faster than that Jones kid. He blitzed one time and by the time I took my first step he was already in the backfield."

6. Tony Wilson, WR, Daytona Beach (Fla.) Mainland - Committed to Georgia
With Jarred Fayson hampered by a hamstring injury last week, Wilson took the lead at the wide receiver spot and the four-star prospect was extremely impressive. His knowledge of the game and his avid studying of the playbook make him a coach's dream. It's obvious that Wilson, who may not be the biggest receiver on the field, will do wonders at Georgia because of his coach-able attitude and nature. He did have the only touchdown reception in Saturday's game.

A California defensive back says: "He just beat us on that touchdown. He ran right down the middle of the field and beat our safety. I think he surprised us with how fast he was. He was fast even in this rain."

7. Marcus Udell, CB, Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
Versatility made Tallahassee Godby cornerback Marcus Udell stick out as he shifted to both safety and cornerback all last week. Defensive back coach Mike Bennett says he was the most impressive through the first few days of practice last week and his frame is one of the most impressive many have seen as a high school defensive back in some time. His future is at corner, but his willingness to learn new spots makes him a solid performer and a very deserving four-star prospect.
8. Doug Thacker, DT, Sanford (Fla.) Seminole - Committed to Virginia Tech
Thacker, who is 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, was the most dominant player during Saturday's game, and he loved every single second of it. Rolling around in the mud and muck, Thacker couldn't be blocked by a California offensive line that featured several four-star prospects. During one stretch in the third quarter, Thacker recorded a tackle for a loss, a sack and another sack on three consecutive plays. He also had a solid week of practices, with an especially impressive day last Thursday.

A Florida defensive lineman says: "Doug got robbed. He should have been named the game's MVP. He had like what 20 tackles?"

9. Patrick Robinson, CB, Miami Gulliver Prep
Many get caught up in just how fast that Robinson is, but he has a football mean-streak in him as well. During one offensive play in practice last week, he laid a block that brought everyone to their feet and showed that he's more than just a quick player at the skill position. Robinson also shared time at both cornerback and wide receiver this week, learning both spots well, and showing flashes as a two-way player. His natural talents alone along with good coaching in college should make him a dangerous Division-I weapon.
10. John Paul, DE, Immokalee, Fla.
It makes more and more sense every play you watch the 6-foot-4, 244-pound Florida defensive end in trying to figure out how he accumulated such an impressive stack of offers. Paul was definitely one of the most vocal players all week shouting before and after the play. He had no problem backing that up with superb quickness and a knack for getting to the quarterback with both power and speed. Paul's development is showing that he going to be a real steal for some college team if he qualifies. He also had an impressive game on Saturday, too.

A Florida defensive lineman says: "John would swoop to the inside and with his quickness he couldn't be blocked. They couldn't block any of us out there, but especially John."

11. Brandon Davis, OC, Miami South Miami Committed to Florida State
Definitely one of the bigger players that came out from the shadows last week was the Florida State commit. At center standing around some very big offensive lineman, he may not look like a physically dominant lineman, but his play at the center position was strong. His movement and step off the ball is quite impressive. During one-on-one's, Davis held his own against the state's top defensive lineman proving that the Seminoles certainly got an excellent prospect who apparently flew under the radar.

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