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GATORS SEEK A BOOSTFOR POROUS DEFENSE

For the third consecutive year under coach Urban Meyer, Florida finished with a top-fiveclass, according to Rivals.com. More important, it filled needs on defense.

Last season, the Gators allowed 25.5 points per game. That included 37 and 31 in wins over Kentucky and South Carolina, respectively, 42 in the loss to Georgia and 41 in the Capital One Bowl loss to Michigan.

A closer look

WHO'S NO. 1?: Not the Gators. After holding the No. 1 spot in the national rankings the past 1-1/2 weeks, Florida lost status with the defection of two commitments Wednesday morning but remained highly ranked.

THE BIGGEST: Omar Hunter, 6 feet and 322 pounds.

THE SMALLEST: Go ahead, admit it. You thought it was the kicker. Wrong. Orlando Boone cornerback Jeremy Brown comes in at 5 feet 10, 163 pounds. That's 19 pounds lighter than St. Augustine kicker Caleb Sturgis.

BEST NICKNAME: Will "The Thrill" Hill. Can't you just hear Mick Hubert saying that one already? By all accounts, the five-star safety from Jersey City, N.J., will have no problem living up to it.

BIGGEST POTENTIAL FOR EARLY IMPACT: Omar Hunter. Scout.com's Jamie Newberg describes him as a Warren Sapp-type player. He's agile and extremely strong.

THE ONES who GOT AWAY: Melbourne Palm Bay's Ramon Buchanancommitted to Miami then to Florida but ultimately signed with Miami. And Lakeland offensive lineman Ricky Barnum switched to Michigan.

BIGGEST SURPRISES: Florida got last-minute signings from Lakeland Kathleen receiver T.J. Lawrence and Edwardsville (Ill.) offensive lineman David Young, both four-star recruits. Lawrence had been uncommitted while Young carried a huge question mark because of broken kneecaps sustained during high school.

Coach Urban Meyer

ON THE CLASS: "Overall, it is a great class, and that makes it three in a row. We are going to have a roster of 25 upperclassmen and 60 underclassmen. We have 11 seniors, so it is going to be a very young team. We have 31 players with three more years of eligibility and now 29 players with four years of eligibility. The future is awful bright."

ON OMAR HUNTER: "Omar Hunter is the guy. The kind of player he is, the kind of person he is ... I watched him work out. I stood in the weight room and watched him. He's a 400-pound bencher. He's a state champion. He's everything you want. We had to have him."

LOSING lB RAMON BUCHANAN to Miami: "It did shock me a little bit. But I'm happy with who we've got."

ON BEING A REGIONAL RECRUITING SCHOOL: "I'd much rather be a regional recruiting power. That's why our staff came here. Because within four or five hours of our campus, you have the best players in the country. We can always do better, but our focus is here. You better take care of home before you go anywhere else. I think we've done okay. The research we've shown in this area, we've been pretty strong in this area. That's why we don't recruit California. We've got two out of California on our team. Why go to California when you have Tampa and these other great areas. So you take care of your back yard."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

NAME POS. HT WT SCHOOL

*Brendan Beal LB 6-3 223 Bangor (Pa.) Liberty

*Jeremy Brown CB 5-10 163 Orlando Boone

Adrian Bushell DB 5-10 183 DeSoto, Texas

Jeffrey Demps ATH 5-8 176 South Lake

*Troy Epps DT 6-0 285 Coffeyville (Kan.) CC

Dee Finley S 6-2 200 Auburn, Ala.

William Green DE 6-4 215 Hoover (Ala.) Spain Park

Frankie Hammond Jr. WR 6-0 170 Hollywood Hallandale

Will Hill S 6-2 203 New Jersey St. Peters Prep

Omarius Hines WR 6-1 205 Corsicana, Texas

Omar Hunter DT 6-0 322 Buford, Ga.

*Janoris Jenkins CB 5-10 177 Pahokee

Byran Jones OL/DL 6-3 305 Jacksonville Forrest

T.J. Lawrence WR 6-0 185 Lakeland Kathleen

Lerentee McCray LB 6-2 205 Dunnellon

*Carl Moore WR 6-3 220 Sierra (Calif.) CC

*Earl Okine DE 6-5 250 Gainesville

*Matt Patchan OL 6-6 260 Armwood

T.J. Pridemore LB 6-0 236 Buford, Ga.

Sam Robey OL 6-4 275 Louisville Trinity

*Caleb Sturgis K 5-10 182 St. Augustine

David Young OL 6-6 290 Edwardsville, Ill.

* Enrolled in January

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