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February 4, 2008

Rivals5: Top stories in Florida

Rivals5: Surprise classes | Shocking switches | Super sleepers | State battles

The big three college football powers in the state of Florida can do well recruiting their back yards, but they have to battle each other and fight off other programs to land their share of the state's large number of quality prospects.

The Sunshine State always produces its share of interesting storylines during a given recruiting season. Rivals.com breaks down five of the top storylines in Florida recruiting this year.

Rivals5: Top stories in Florida
1. A Bull market
The University of Miami has stuck with an old formula for success with this year's recruiting class: secure the South Florida talent. Fortunately for Miami, South Florida just happens to be home to the most talented team in high school football this year in Miami Northwestern.

Led by five-star defensive tackle prospect Marcus Forston, the Hurricanes have already cashed in on six commitments from the 6A state championship squad and could pull in two more big ones. Outside of the eight current and potential Miami commitments, the Bulls have three other prospects committed to Division I programs and could wind up with several more signing on Wednesday.

2. In-state domination
Currently, Florida sits atop the recruiting team rankings only a year removed from a national championship. Though the Gators clearly aren't going anywhere on the national scene, Miami and Florida State may both be ready for a resurgence if this year's recruiting classes are any indication.

Miami's success recruiting South Florida, Florida State's success in the Northern and Central part of the state and Florida's success locally and nationally make the state's big three a very real possibility to make the top five in the final national team rankings. Some late tricks by Bobby Bowden and Randy Shannon could give could give the state of Florida some impressive national bragging rights.

3. The T.J. Bryant enigma
In a year when several of the nation's top prospects have been mum about their recruitment, no player has been more tight-lipped than T.J. Bryant. Bryant has rarely spoken publicly about his recruitment if at all, yet he has managed to extend the process and keep several teams guessing about their chances.

As signing day approaches, Bryant has not publicly eliminated any of his finalists: USC, Alabama, Florida State, Miami, LSU and Florida. Though many have speculated that the hometown school of Florida State holds the lead for his services, Bryant's Signing Day announcement should hold the interest of several fan bases still hoping for the talented cornerback's signature.

4. The year of the Linebacker
Just call 2008 "The Year of the Linebacker" in the state of Florida. Out of Rivals.com's Top 10 inside linebackers, three of them hail from the Sunshine State. Of Rivals.com's Top 10 outside linebackers, half of them were Florida natives. Moreover, the top inside linebacker and the top outside linebacker are each Floridians.

It is a scary thought that Etienne Sabino, Nigel Bradham, Marcus Robinson, Jordan Futch and Ryan Baker are all in the same class of linebackers, but that they're listed from the same state is hard to fathom.

5. The fight for Patchan
Unlike several other prospects of his caliber, five-star offensive tackle Matt Patchan has been an open book throughout his recruitment. A Miami legacy, Patchan was a Hurricane fan-favorite due to his outspoken personality and in-your-face attitude.

Patchan went so far as to call out the University of Miami players after witnessing a 48-0 drubbing by Virginia on his official visit back in November. He finally surprised many by shunning the family ties to Miami and choosing Florida over the Hurricanes and LSU. Patchan's commitment was a huge addition to Florida's highly-ranked recruiting class.

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