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Florida Gators' D.J. Durkin wins national recruiting honor

GAINESVILLE — During his national signing day news conference last week, Florida coach Will Muschamp praised the job linebackers and special teams coach D.J. Durkin had done in helping to land some of the Gators' biggest recruits, particularly from out of state.

On Monday, Durkin received more recognition for his efforts when he was named the Rivals.com recruiter of the year.

Durkin was responsible for bringing in seven top-tier prospects, including five Rivals250 prospects. They included: five-star DE Jonathan Bullard of Shelby, N.C.; five-star OT D.J. Humphries of Charlotte Mallard Creek; Venice four-star DT Dante Phillips; and Clemmons (N.C.) West Forsyth three-star DE Alex McCalister.

Durkin, who was hired by former coach Urban Meyer in 2010 and retained by Muschamp, gave a lot of credit to being at Florida for the recruiting success.

"I am very, very fortunate to be recruiting at a place like Florida because I think the place almost sells itself," Durkin told Rivals. "It is a great academic institution and there is obviously great football tradition here."

Four other coaches from state schools were recognized among Rivals.com's Top 25 recruiters of the year: Derek Lewis (UF); Dameyune Craig and Odell Haggins of Florida State; and George McDonald from Miami.

BEAL, AGAIN: About three weeks ago, much of the talk around the Florida basketball team was about the slump freshman guard Bradley Beal had fallen into. Beal admittedly was struggling with his shot, and his penchant for being too hard on himself was not helping the problem.

Coach Billy Donovan said at the time he liked that Beal had continued to affect the game in ways besides his offense, and he expected him to work his way through it. He has.

On Monday, Beal was named the SEC freshman of the week for the fifth time. He averaged 16.5 points, nine rebounds and two assists in wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt last week, and had his fourth double double of the season against the Gamecocks (17 points, 11 rebounds).

Beal will get introduced to Rupp Arena tonight when No. 8 Florida faces No. 1 Kentucky, and UK coach John Calipari said Beal is a player the Wildcats have to be concerned about.

"He's a skilled player who can beat you on the bounce," Calipari said. "He can make shots, a terrific free-throw shooter, good passer, but also has the ability to rebound offensively. So he goes and gets balls. Let's just say you stopped them and you are feeling good, and all of a sudden he goes and grabs an offensive rebound and sticks it in and it kind of breaks your rhythm and your stride. So he is doing some good stuff."

BIG REBOUND: It appears the focus to not let past failures linger has paid off for the women's basketball team. After a double-overtime loss Jan. 29 at Arkansas, the Gators went 2-0 last week — earning their first victory at LSU since 1996 — then scoring a season high in an 84-55 win over Ole Miss on Sunday.

"I think that certainly is a reflection of heightened maturity, learning lessons and understanding the value of each game," coach Amanda Butler said.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com. Follow her blog at tampabay.com/blogs/gators/.

Florida Gators' D.J. Durkin wins national recruiting honor 02/06/12 [Last modified: Monday, February 6, 2012 9:24pm]
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