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Florida Football Recruiting

Revisiting the Class of 2010

March 25, 2020
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After a 'down' 2009 cycle, at least by Urban Meyer standards, that saw Florida finish seventh in the nation, the Gators rebounded in a big way for the Class of 2010.

UF not only finished No. 1 overall, but did so on the strength of signing five prospects who were rated as 247 Sports Composite five-stars. 

Today Inside the Gators takes an in-depth look at the players who made up the Class of 2010.

Here is the breakdown.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • All 28 signees were admitted for academic eligibility at the University of Florida.
  • 19 of the 28 signees started at least one game for the Gators during their collegiate careers (Ajagbe, Ball, Brown, Burton, Dunbar, Easley, Elam, Floyd, Green, Kitchens, Murphy, Orr, Patton, Powell, Riggs, Shaw, Silberman, Taylor, Watkins)
  • 4 others played in at least one game for Florida but never started (Christian, Clark, Coxson, Dowling)
  • 5 never played a single game for the Gators (Dunkley, Haden, Martin, McFarland, Trail)
  • 13 of the 28 signees avoided a redshirt season (Ball, Burton, Christian, Clark, Dowling, Easley, Elam, Floyd, Kitchens, Patton, Powell, Riggs, Watkins)
  • 11 of the 28 were drafted by National Football League franchises. (Ball - 5th round by Oakland, Christian - 7th round Arizona, Dowling - 7th round Oakland, Easley - 1st round New England, Elam - 1st round Baltimore, Floyd - 1st round Minnesota, Green - 3rd round Dallas,  Powell - 5th round New Orleans, Shaw - 4th round Cincinnati, Silberman - 6th round San Francisco, Watkins - 4th round Philadelphia)
  • 7 of the 28 have been with or are with NFL franchises as undrafted free agents. (Burton, Dunbar, Murphy, Orr, Patton Riggs, Trail)
  • 5 of the 28 were named to an All-SEC team during their collegiate careers. (Burton, Easley, Elam, Floyd, Green)
  • 2 of the 28 were named to an All-American team during their collegiate careers (Elam, Floyd)

THE SUPERLATIVES

Most Valuable Player: This isn't an award for the best overall player, but the top player who was the most valuable to Florida from the start to the finish of his career. Not only did Jaylen Watkins play in 48 games for the Gators, totaling three interceptions and 24 passes defended, but even as a senior he was willing to move from corner to safety as the team needed him to. 

Most Underrated: He wasn't a top end quarterback by any stretch of the imagination, which held his ranking down somewhat, but Trey Burton was certainly at least a four-star athlete. He showed glimpses of what was to come when he scored six touchdowns against Kentucky his freshman season. He is currently one of the top 10 paid tight ends in the NFL.

Most Overrated: Coming out of Colorado Chris Martin initially signed with Cal, but immediately moved on to Florida. That stay was short lived as the No. 44 prospect in the 247 Sports Composite never made a meaningful play on the major college level. 

Biggest Surprise: Though he was just barely rated as a four-star, coming in at No. 311 overall in a defensive class that featured five five-star signees, Neiron Ball was a bit overlooked. However, despite fighting injuries and an illness, he still managed to be an impact player when he was on the field.

Biggest Disappointment: I know that there are some who will point to Ronald Powell, but it isn’t his fault that he suffered two ACL injuries while at Florida. Therefore, can it be anyone other than Chris Dunkley? Not only because he was the No. 37 rated prospect in this class, but despite being a bit on the smaller side, he was expected to come in and make an impact for Florida. Instead, he never saw the field before transferring to South Florida.

The Ranking was dead on: They may have been a bit off on his measurables, listing him at 6-foot-3, but they were on the money when it came to Dominique Easley's ranking. Rated as the No. 4 overall prospect in his class, Easley totaled 72 tackles, 18 TFL 5.5 sacks in his first three years. He started his senior season looking as though he was going to earn All American honors, before suffering an ACL tear. 

The Ranking was way off: Perhaps he should have been listed as an athlete rather than a dual-threat quarterback, but based simply on athletic ability, there's no way that Tyler Murphy should have been the lowest rated commit in Florida's class, and not even ranked. He was third team All ACC as a senior quarterback at Boston College and then was a good enough athlete to play in the NFL as a wide receiver.

RE-RANKING THE CLASS OF 2010

Players were re-ranked based solely on what they accomplished during the entirety of their time at Florida. Professional potential was not a determining factor.

1) Safety Matt Elam: He was simply a playmaker. In 39 games at safety he recorded 176 tackles, 23.5 TFL, 13 pass breakups, six interceptions, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

2) Defensive tackle Dominique Easley: He really played to his ranking. Honestly, when you take into consideration that Florida only got 32 games (26 starts) of action out of him, on a per-snap basis, though the stat sheet may not have always shown it, he was as disruptive as a defensive force as Florida has had in the modern era.

3) Defensive back Jaylen Watkins: Appeared in 48 games, with 28 starts, in his career at Florida he totaled 133 tackles three interceptions and 24 passes defensed. Not only that, but he was one of the most consistent people off-the-field during a turbulent time in Florida football.

4) Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd: There's no need to play this up in order to make him look better. Straight from his official bio composed by the Florida Sports Information Department: In 37 career games he had 115 career tackles, 26 TFL, 4.5 sacks, a pass breakup, three blocked field goals and a forced fumble. His three career kick/punt blocks is tied for fifth in school history.

5) Athlete Trey Burton: You can only wonder what kind of career he could have had at Florida if he would have come in with the mindset that he was going to be a tight end, h-back or combo back type and focused just on that. As it is, he finished his career with 720 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 141 carries and 107 catches for 976 yards and four touchdowns. Oh, he was also 11-of-17 passing for 101-yards.

6) Linebacker Michael Taylor: A bit undersized, he was more of the steady, know what you are getting from game to game type of player rather than a spectacular playmaker. In his 47 career games, which included 19 starts, he totaled 194 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, two sacks and two interceptions.

7) Defensive end Ronald Powell: His numbers - 37 games played with 21 starts, 83 tackles, 18.5 TFL and 11 sacks might not match his overall No. 1 ranking in the Class of 2010, but that is still a damn good career, especially when you take into consideration he tore his ACL twice.

8) Linebacker Neiron Ball: Despite his medical issues, he was still able to start 16 out of the 45 games he played in. He ended up with 94 tackles, three sacks, and an interception. After being drafted by Oakland and playing in the NFL for two years, he again suffered some medical issues and passed away last year at age 27.

9) Offensive tackle Chaz Green: I remember seeing him the summer before Florida fall camp kicked off and thinking he was the most put together freshman I had ever seen outside of Joe Cohen. He looked NFL ready from the start. The talent was there, but he had some issues with speed rushers. It seemed like his freshman season (All SEC Freshman) was his best season before he sort of leveled off somewhat.

10) Wide Receiver Solomon Patton: He made eight starts in 43 career games totaling 31 carries for 217 yards rushing, 52 catches for 635-yards and six touchdowns receiving while averaging 27.7 yards per kick-off return. Patton had 2,015 career all purpose yards. He returned from a bad injury during his junior season to be named offensive MVP as a senior.

11) Wide receiver Quinton Dunbar: Unfortunately for him, after signing with Florida to be part of Urban Meyer’s explosive spread offense, he was stuck playing four years in Will Muschamp’s unimaginative three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust offense. Still, in 49 games played he recorded
111 receptions for 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns. He has actually made his name in the NFL as a better than average cornerback.

12) Defensive tackle Leon Orr: What I remember most about Orr is his high school highlight tape where he made a diving interception. That is the type of athleticism he brought to the table at his size. He had all the talent in the world, and once he matured, it started to show. In 39 games he recorded 62 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks before inexplicably deciding to quit the team his final year.

13) Running back Mack Brown:  Though he played in 49 games, he only ran the ball 210 times for 805 yards and four touchdowns as he never really was the go-to ball carrier, splitting time with Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones and Mike Gillislee over the course of his career.

14) Cornerback Cody Riggs: Though he was undersized, he started 25 games for Florida, putting up 107 tackles, one interception and nine passes defensed before he decided to grad-transfer to Notre Dame.

15) Offensive lineman Ian Silberman:  In 20 games he made seven starts before he grad-transferred to Boston College to play for Steve Addazio.

16) Linebacker Darrin Kitchens: He played in 45 games for Florida, starting six of them. He made 59 tackles, four tackles for loss. Kitchens will probably be most known for being the only Gator - player or coach - to stay out and sing the fight song with the band after Florida lost to Louisville in the the 2013 Sugar Bowl.

17) Quarterback Tyler Murphy: Though it’s hardly his fault, who can forget Murphy leading the Florida offense in the 2013 season where he rushed for 61 yards, passed for 1,216 and accounted for nine touchdowns (three rushing, six passing) and a No. 113 total offensive ranking,. He then grad-transferred to Boston College.

18) Cornerback Josh Shaw: One of Florida’s five five-star signees in the cycle, after redshirting as a true freshman in 2010, he came back and played in 10 games as a redshirt freshman in 2011, recording 22 tackles. He then decided to transfer back home to the west coast, ending up at Southern Cal.

19) Fullback Gideon Ajagbe: He was moved from linebacker to fullback at a time when fullbacks were starting to be phased out of offenses. He had four catches in a career that spanned 21 games played and two starts.

20) Safety Jonathan Dowling: He was actually playing as a true freshman and looked like he was going to have a big Gators career ahead of him when he was kicked off the team late in his freshman season for a violation of team rules. He transferred to Western Kentucky where he posted eight forced fumbles and nine interceptions in two seasons before declaring for the NFL Draft, where he was chosen by Oakland.

21) Athlete Robert Clark: Remember when it was thought that Florida took Clark just to help secure their chances of getting much higher rated Dwyer teammates Matt Elam and Gerald Christian. However, Clark was the first freshman to have his stripe removed. He played in 11 games as a freshman, contributing 7 catches for 69-yards. He appeared in five games as a sophomore without making the stat sheet before transferring to Louisville.

22) Tight end Gerald Christian: After redshirting his first season he played in eight games - mostly on special teams - in 2011 before deciding to transfer to Louisville, where he made an immediate impact, catching 28 passes for 426 yards the first season he was eligible. He ended up playing well enough to become a 7th round NFL draft pick of the Arizona Cardinals. 

23) Defensive end Lynden Trail: Although he never played a game for Florida, he considers himself a Gator to this day. As he should. With the uncertainty surrounding this class when Urban Meyer retired and then un-retired, he was part of the glue that held this class together. He and Trey Burton did as good a job as prospect recruiters as I have seen. He redshirted at Florida and then ended up transferring to Norfolk State, where he put up big sack numbers and played a couple of years in the NFL.

24) Wide receiver Adrian Coxson: He redshirted at Florida before transferring to Maryland where he saw limited action before then turning around and transferring to Stony Brook the next year. At Stony Brook he caught 74 passes in two years before being signed as an UDFA by Green Bay.

25) Receiver Chris Dunkley: He was such a huge recruiting win for Florida to get absolutely nothing out of him in the end. I remember when Florida used to do the Charity Challenge to end the summer and he came into the stadium as a signee not yet on the team, and other signees in his class were all over him. Just drawn to being around him. You could tell he was going to be a class leader. That may have been good or bad. If he had stuck it out in Gainesville, perhaps those friends on the team could have helped keep him in line. Or, perhaps he might have led a couple of them astray. Out of everyone in this class he was probably the one who was hurt the most by Urban Meyer’s retirement. Not only because he could have been dynamic in that offense, but mostly because Will Muschamp ran a much tighter ship, which he couldn’t adjust to. He ended up at South Florida as a receiver, but after being suspended for an off-the-field incident, he came back as a cornerback under Willie Taggart.

26) Tight end Michael McFarland: He actually had a decent college career overall, but he never played a down for Florida before transferring to South Florida where he hauled in 55 receptions for 643-yards and 2 touchdowns over the next four seasons.

27) Safety Jordan Haden:  The little brother of former Florida cornerback Joe Haden, Jordan never played a game for Florida before transferring to Toledo where he totaled 66 tackles and five interceptions in three years.

28) Defensive end Chris Martin: He originally signed with Cal, but enrolled at Florida where he had several issues before transferring to a junior college. After another junior college stop he ended up at Kansas where he was thrown off the team after being arrested. In the end, he made more headlines off the field than on it.

Revisiting the Class of 2010

1,064 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 5 mo ago by Fun & Gun
Verobeachgator
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Didn't Orr have to take a Greyhound bus back home?
notexgator
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Everytime I read about this class on Offense, it reminds me what a p--- poor HC Will was. He was like the payback of 4 good years with Urban. I hope he stays at usc e a long time so that we can always count on beating them.
Fun & Gun
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Verobeachgator said:

Didn't Orr have to take a Greyhound bus back home?
I think he rode with the equipment truck?
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