The Magnificent Seven

Jaamal Berry

With the May Evaluation season in full swing, it's time to take a look at the top prospects on the Gators' board. This elite list from the Class of 2009 makes up the FightinGators.com Magnificent Seven.

I have been asked several times to put together a list of prospects that would fall in the category of "Most Wanted". Several factors came into play when I was deciding which players would make the list, they are as follows:

A. Players that are showing and receiving attention from the Gators
B. Players that have visited/plan to visit the Gators
C. Players that have taken multiple trips to Gainesville
D. Need Position
E. Realistic chance of being in the class

When you look at it like this, it is not hard to see or figure out who the top players are for this recruiting class. Certainly things can and normally do change in recruiting, and they will this year, but as of right now these are the players who I see being the "Most Wanted" for various reasons in no particular order:

The Magnificent Seven
Jaamal Berry
Andre Debose
Dyron Dye
Ray Ray Armstrong
Nick Alajajian
Jon Bostic
Marlon Brown

The top running back on the board right now is Miami Palmetto's Jaamal Berry. Berry at 5-11, 190-pounds displays all the tools to be a great back in any offense but in particular the spread that the Gators run. He has the speed, vision and balance that you want from your every down back. Berry had a fantastic trip to OSU a couple of weeks ago and if they were any closer I believe they would be the team to beat. The fact of the matter is that he is very close to his mother who I have spoken to on several occasions and at the end of the day I do not believe that he will go that far from home.

One thing to keep an eye on is his relationship with quarterback Eugene Smith. They are very close and if things work out when coach Dan Mullen pays Smith a visit in regards to an offer things will become very interesting for both players. Currently, Smith is not on my "Most Wanted" list but that could quickly change with an offer in the not so distant future.

If you follow Florida recruiting you know that the other names tossed around for the running back spot look like this:

Lamar Miller, Lonnie Pryor, Rodney Scott and Trent Richardson. I believe that Miller will end up with Miami. Alabama could be the team to beat for Richardson. Lonnie Pryor will play for the Garnett and Gold and that leaves Rodney Scott who the Auburn Tigers are showing a ton of attention to right now and have been for sometime. This is not to say that things won't change moving forward. The Canes could win three games this year and Miller could decide that he doesn't want to be part of a rebuilding process. Florida could start showing Scott more attention and Richardson could decide that he wants to follow in No. 22's footsteps and wear the Orange and Blue, but this is how I see things in regards to those players at the present time.

One player to keep an eye on is Ben Axon. Axon could see his offer from the Gators once coach Kenny Carter pays him a visit to see how he looks in pads. I think that Axon may end up being more realistic than the other four listed above minus Berry.

Axon is 6-1, 190-pounds and is a 4.5 guy from Bradenton (FL) Manatee High School. He finished his junior season with more than 1,000 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The most impressive player that I have seen on film this year is Andre Debose. Debose is 6-0, 185-pounds and has legit 4.4 speed and has run a 10.5 100-meter in the past. He is a perfect fit to come in and replace Percy Harvin. One of the things that he mentioned to me was his ability to come in year one and make an impact. He was intrigued by FSU and the lack of playmakers that they had on the offensive side of the ball. He also mentioned the depth chart at Florida with guys like Chris Rainey, Brandon James and Jeff Demps.

One thing that he is clear on is that he would be the No. 1 guy to replace Percy when he is done. He would be the most heavily recruited player outside say a quarterback by himself but the fact that he has two teammates at Sanford (FL) Seminole High School that the staff is high on makes him that much more attractive.

Dyron Dye and Ray Ray Armstrong round out the "Big Three" and both are showing the Gators some attention right now. They have all mentioned that they would like to play together and if it works out great and if not that's fine, too. All three of them are looking at depth charts at each school that has offered and they have been offered by just about everyone.

Dye is 6-5, 224-pounds and in my opinion has the Gators as the team to beat. Most feel that DeBose is the key to landing all three players while I believe Dye is the key. Florida is looking at Dye, Nick Kasa and Ryne Giddins for the defensive end position and I think it would be very difficult to take all three. I don't think the staff would hold Kasa off though if he wanted to go public for fear of losing out on a player like Dye or Giddins at this time.

Ray Ray Armstrong is the biggest safety on the board right now at 6-4, 217-pounds. It remains to be seen if he grows into a linebacker but he wants to be recruited as a safety and that's what the Gators are doing and will continue to do moving forward. We have seen multiple players from the same high school team end up with the same college team in years past (Lakeland) but not that often. Still, I like the Gators' chance with the Big Three in this situation for more than one reason.

The number one offensive guard in the nation is Nick Alajajian and at 6-4, 280-pounds he has the game to back it up on the field. Alajajian, from Naples (FL) High School has said that the Gators are his top team and that he can't imagine wanting to hear anything else from the Gators because everything the staff is telling him is great.

At the linebacker position you can take your pick between two players both of which are being heavily recruited by the staff. Jarvis Jones and Jon Bostic. Jones is arguably the top linebacker in the state of Georgia and maybe the best in the South. Jones is 6-4, 212-pounds out of Columbus (GA) Carver High School. He speaks highly of the Gators but in the end I believe Clemson could/will be the team to beat followed by Georgia but the Gators have a shot.

Bostic gets my vote for the top linebacker prospect based on additional factors, namely he is from the state of Florida. And when possible, I believe that the Gators will always defer to the in-state players when they can. Bostic fits the mold of what the Gators are looking for, which is a bigger type. He is 6-2, 223-pounds and was very impressive physically when he showed up for the spring game. Bostic is from Wellington (FL) Palm Beach Central.

Last, but certainly not least, is wide receiver Marlon Brown out of Memphis (TN) Harding Academy. Brown is 6-5, 210-pounds and many believe the top overall wide receiver in the nation. Tennessee has made Brown the top priority for this year's class and it will be hard to get him out of the state, but the Gators are recruiting him as hard as anyone on the board right now. I just wonder in the end will it be enough? Brown excels on the basketball court as well and mentions wanting to do both sports in college.

This list is subject to change and if I did it a month from now you may see 2-3 different players. As you can see I am big on going with the in-state kids, and at the end of the day, most coaches have the same philosophies, take care of you own state when you can and target specific out-of state players and the Gators do a great job of that.

Clearly, I could have Frankie Telfort and Ryne Giddins/Nick Kasa at the defensive end/safety position and no one would argue that but I chose to go with Armstrong and Dye at this time. The May evaluation period coupled with Friday Night Lights are two of the most important factors when trying to determine the pecking order of recruits that the staff is serious about and both have yet to fully take place. We will know a lot more once both of those are completed.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Jason Higdon

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