It was an eventful weekend around the Southern Conference, but Florida's five-star flip probably is the headliner.
If Dalvin Cook ends up signing with Florida, it would give the Gators five-star running back prospects in consecutive classes.
For Florida, this is huge for a few reasons.
1. The 5-feet-11, 190-pound Cook is really good. He's currently ranked No. 5 nationally among running backs and No. 31 overall in the 247Composite. Cook was someone the Gators targeted for quite awhile, and their persistence has -- at least for now -- paid off.
2. Should Cook sign with the Gators, it would give Florida five-star running backs in consecutive classes (2013 and 2014), to go along with the signing of four-star back Matt Jones in 2012. Jones likely will be the starting tailback this fall with 2013 five-star signee Kelvin Taylor, an early enrollee also expected to contribute.
In the rugged SEC, Muschamp, now entering his third season, wanted to build a powerful running game. So far, so good.
3. Cook would become the most high-profile Florida signee from Miami-Dade County in years. For decades, the Gators built their program with players from that county, but that changed in the 1980s when the Hurricanes became a national power. In this cycle, it appears as though the Gators will try to hit Miami-Dade hard.
All of this, of course, is contingent on Cook sticking with Florida.
That's probably not a given seeing as though he already has flipped once. Also, Clemson has done fairly well of late in the Sunshine State and probably isn't going to throw in the towel with signing day so far away.
South Carolina, Florida and Alabama are the three SEC programs in the mix for the nation's top prospect, defensive end Da'Shawn Hand.
Cook's commit capped a big week for the Gators in south Florida. Last Tuesday, four-star defensive tackle Anthony Moten of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas pledged to Florida. There also could be more good news for the Gators forthcoming.
No. 1 in Columbia
The nation’s top overall prospect, defensive end Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va.) visited South Carolina during the weekend for the Gamecocks’ junior day. Hand had a good visit and spent time with another No. 1 prospect that also plays defensive end, Gamecocks All-American Jadeveon Clowney. Hand also met with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward. Sources believe that the Gamecocks are legitimate contenders to land Hand, but that they very likely still trail frontrunners Michigan and Virginia Tech. Florida and Alabama round out Hand’s top five with North Carolina still in the mix to a certain extent. South Carolina quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus, one of the top recruiters in the SEC, and first-year defensive line coach Deke Adams, are heading up Hand’s recruitment for the Gamecocks. A formidable duo indeed.
Elsewhere in the SEC …
*Tennessee will play host to Top247 and U.S. Army All-American defensive end/tight end Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor) on the weekend of April 20. Holmes has been considered a Virginia Tech lean for most of the process, but there is talk that he may now have his eyes open a bit more to out-of-state options. The Vols and Florida State are two programs to watch here.
*Based on feedback from the weekend, LSU should feel as good as possible about five star cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and four-star receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis). Also, look for Dupre to rise from a rankings standpoint in our next update of the Top247.
*Georgia picked up a verbal from one of the state's top sophomores when 6-feet-5, 200-pound receiver Christian Owens of Griffin (Ga.) made the call during the Bulldogs' annual G-Day on Saturday. Don't be fooled by the fact Owens doesn't have many offers. Several SEC programs were giving him a look, including Alabama. In fact, according to Owens he has visited the Tide a few times already. Owens is the first commit on board with Georgia for 2015.
Meantime, the Dawgs have parted ways with Stanley Williams. A four-star all-purpose back, Williams committed to Georgia during the summer of 2011. The Bulldogs could take multiple backs in this class, with their top targets apparently being five-star prospect Sony Michel and four-star recruit Nick Chubb. Grabbing a third back potentially could be an option as well. Michel will announce later this month, and it appears to be a Georgia-Miami battle.
As for Williams, it's probably too soon to guess where he might land. Mississippi State, however, could be a program to watch as the Bulldogs recently offered and he said he plans to visit there. Missouri offered Sunday.
*Three-star tight end Chris Laye of Suwanee (Ga.) Lambert became Auburn's third commitment for 2014. He pledged just four days after receiving a Tigers offer. In Laye, the Tigers have found someone with a similar frame to former Auburn tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen. Laye is listed at 6-feet-5, 240 pounds. Lutzenkirchen is in the 6-5, 255-pound range. Like Laye, Lutzenkirchen is from the metro-Atlanta area.
By the way, Auburn's next big recruiting day is April 20. That's win the Tigers will have their spring game.
*Missouri's offer to Williams was the program's 24th known offer to a 2014 Georgia prospect. Over the weekend, the Tigers also offered offensive guard Terronne Prescod of Decatur (Ga.) Columbia. In February, Missouri landed one player from the Peach State -- quarterback Eddie Printz of Marietta (Ga.) Lassiter.
JC Shurburtt contributed to this report/