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Florida Gators recruit football heavily in Tampa Bay area

GAINESVILLE — Florida's 2013-14 football roster is a solid reflection of the Gators' commitment to recruiting in the Tampa Bay area.

At least 19 players from Hillsborough and Pinellas counties and the surrounding areas, including Pasco, will be a part of the upcoming season's team.

Led by the area's most prominent player — Wharton's Vernon Hargreaves III — the Gators signed six players from the area among their 2013 class last week. It is the third consecutive year under coach Will Muschamp that the area has been a key part of Florida's recruiting efforts, and Muschamp said that's by design.

"We have three coaches that recruit in that area, Derek Lewis, Brian White and D.J. Durkin," Muschamp said. "They have all done an outstanding job of mining that area and finding the best fit for the University of Florida."

STILL TOP 10: Florida's loss at unranked Arkansas this past week led to a five-spot drop to No. 7 in this week's Associated Press men's basketball poll (No. 6 in the coaches poll). It was a rough week for Top 10 teams: No. 1 Indiana, No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Michigan, No. 5 Kansas and No. 7 Arizona all lost. But Florida's fall makes it clear that the SEC's struggles will hinder the Gators' strength of schedule, and they will have to continue to win to earn a favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament. The SEC's current RPI is No. 8.

BOUNCING BACK: Billy Donovan removed Scottie Wilbekin from Saturday's starting lineup against Mississippi State because he didn't like the way the junior guard responded after he challenged him following his disappointing performance at Arkansas (5-of-15, four assists, three turnovers). But Donovan said he liked the way Wilbekin has bounced back since.

"My biggest thing with Scottie is I have such a high opinion and a high regard for him as a player and how he can impact and affect our team, that as a coach I think it is my responsibility to hold him to that standard," Donovan said. "And I think Scottie is a guy that is very, very tough on himself. He's very demanding on himself. And I think he has an expectation of himself, how he needs to play and what he needs to do.

"When you get into a situation where you're not living up to an individual standard or playing at the level you need to play at, that happens all the time with every single player. How you respond to it, to me, is much more important. … It wasn't a bad attitude. It wasn't him being disrespectful. He wasn't late. It wasn't a disciplinary action. It was just more of his lack of being who he is."

Wilbekin said he got Donovan's message.

"It was just a wakeup call for him to let me know how I needed to play, and how hard I need to play every day just to be when I'm at my best," he said.

RECORD: Sophomore high jumper Taylor Burke broke the school record in the women's high jump at the Virginia Tech Elite Meet with her personal best of 1.86m/6-1.25. She broke Maria Galloni's record set at the 1992 SEC Championships, the same year the Gators won the NCAA Indoor Championship.

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com. Follow her on Twitter @TBTimes_Gators.

Florida Gators recruit football heavily in Tampa Bay area 02/11/13 [Last modified: Monday, February 11, 2013 10:13pm]
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