(See Percy Harvin profile; see Damon McDaniel profile)
UPDATED: Watch video of the announcement!
"First of all I would like to thank God for making this situation happen," said Harvin. "I would like to thank all the head coaches who have been supporting me throught this whole thing and all the assistant coaches but for the next four or five years, however long I’ll be going to college, I’ll be choosing the University of Florida."
McDaniel said, "First of all I would like to thank God, also. I would like to thank my family, my mom and dad for putting up wiht me. I would like to thank my coaching staff for being there all the time. It was a hard process to look forward to but I’m going to spend the next four years at Florida as well."
Both Harvin and McDaniel visited Florida unofficially with their coach, Chris Beatty, last spring. They took their official visit to the Florida campus back on September 17 when the Gators beat then third-ranked Tennessee before a record crowd of 90,716 in The Swamp.
Harvin is the nation's top rated wide receiver by Scout.com and he's the third-ranked overall prospect on Scout's National Hot 100. McDaniel is a four-star recruit, ranked as the number 29 wide receiver in the nation.
Harvin is a 5-11, 182-pounder with blazing 4.35 speed in the 40. He piled up incredible numbers while teaming with McDaniel in Landstown's spread offense. As a junior, Harvin caught 58 passes for 1,016 yards (17.5 per catch) and 17 touchdowns while rushing 68 times for 726 yards (10.7 per carry) and 10 touchdowns. He also returned four punts for touchdowns and on defense intercepted 10 passes.
He followed that up with a senior season of 75 catches for 1,313 yards (18.2 per catch) and 14 touchdowns and 504 rushing yards for 13 touchdowns. He also returned three interceptions, two kickoffs and a punt for touchdowns.
McDaniel is a 6-0, 192-pounder with 4.5 speed. He has sure hands and the ability to turn short passes into highlight reel touchdowns. McDaniel had 68 catches as a junior for 1,016 yards (16.3 per catch) and 15 touchdowns while rushing for 238 yards on 26 carries for five touchdowns. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
As a senior, McDaniel had 92 catches for 1,574 yards (17.1 per catch) yards and 26 touchdowns.
Last spring, Harvin was thought to be a lock for Florida State, but as the summer wore on his focus turned to Southern California and Florida. Miami remained a contender throughout the process but it became more and more obvious that this would ultimately become a recruiting battle between Coach Urban Meyer of Florida and Coach Pete Carroll of Southern California.
The distance from Virginia Beach to Los Angeles proved to be the ultimate factor for Harvin. The fact his mother won't have nearly as far to travel to see him play proved to be the ultimate trump card for the Gators.
"Basically it came down to USC being all the way around the country," he said. "She [mother] said I could go where I want but I didn’t want her traveling that far every week. Florida is basically right down the street."
McDaniel was thought to be a Virginia Tech lock during the summer months but Miami, LSU and Florida stayed on his radar throughout the process.
For McDaniel, it came down to finding a real comfort level with Coach Meyer and his wide receivers coach, Billy Gonzales. His official visit also played strongly into his decision.
"Coach Gonzales and Coach Meyer has been there for me a long time," he said. "They've texted me a lot, called me a lot and Florida spreads the ball a lot. It's almost the same offense we run so it shouldn’t be much to adjust to.
"It's just a great. It was just a great feeling when I went down there. I felt like this is where I needed to be."
Throughout the recruiting process, Florida was always in the picture with both Harvin and McDaniel but most experts felt they would go to separate schools. The first real inkling that they would both choose Florida came Friday when they announced that they were canceling all other visits to announce Monday on ESPN. Harvin announced it would be Florida or Southern Cal and McDaniel announced it would be Florida or Virginia Tech.
The addition of Harvin and McDaniel to the Florida commitment list is the latest coup in a whirlwind week of activity for the Gator coaching staff. Last Tuesday, five-star quarterback Tim Tebow of St. Augustine Nease chose the Gators over Alabama in a press conference televised by ESPN. That was followed by a Thursday announcement on ESPN by four-star defensive end Jermaine Cunningham of Stone Mountain (GA) Stephenson. Cunningham chose the Gators over Auburn. Saturday afternoon four-star safety Riley Cooper of Clearwater Central Catholic became the 24th commitment to the Gators.
Since November 14, when five-star safety Jamar Hornsby of Jacksonville Sandalwood announced his commitment to Florida, the Gators have become the hottest team on the recruiting trail, racking up 16 commitments including five five-star commitments and seven four-star commitments.
With the additions of Harvin and McDaniel, Florida's recruiting class is making a definite push to become the number one recruiting class in the nation. Curerently, Scout.com has the Gators ranked number two behind Texas but that ranking could change with Harvin and McDaniel on board.