Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

See You Next Year QB Berlin Is the Cornerstone of Potentially Best-Ever Class

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

See You Next Year QB Berlin Is the Cornerstone of Potentially Best-Ever Class

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- Through the countless All-Americans and No. 1 rankings by recruiting gurus, the 2000 signing class at the University of Florida still centers around one player.

The player who started it all by committing earlier this fall, the player who helped build momentum and attract other recruits, and the player under coach Steve Spurrier's quarterback microscope next month.

If there are any questions about the potential impact of Parade All-American quarterback Brock Berlin, consider this: He's already No. 2 on the depth chart behind Jesse Palmer.

"Shane Matthews knew nothing about our offense when we started in 1990," Spurrier said of his first season at UF. "He was ready to play the first game."

Spurrier was quick to defuse any controversy, saying Palmer was the projected starter going into spring drills, with Berlin and redshirt freshmen Rex Grossman and Chris Stephens trailing in that order on the depth chart.

"I can't wait to work with Coach Spurrier," said Berlin, No. 2 nationally all-time in yards (13,902) and touchdowns (145) at Evangel (La.) Christian. "I really enjoy the way he coaches. He's a great competitor and that's the same as me."

Berlin is also the cornerstone of what could be not only UF's best class under Spurrier, but potentially its best ever. Five Parade All-Americans are among the 30 players signed.

This class is drawing comparisons to the 1992 class, which included Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel and All-Americans Jason Odom, Lawrence Wright and Anthone Lott. That class won four SEC titles, played for two national championships and won one, and had a graduation rate of 80 percent.

Spurrier joked that he could field a full team with this class, with the Gators hitting every need at every position. Just how impressive was this year's recruiting effort? The Gators went after only 37 players and got 27. Of the other three, Berlin and linebacker Kennard Ellis enrolled in January, and defensive tackle Thomas Pittman, a baseball player in the Expos organization, is a walk-on.

Twenty of the 28 players who visited Florida in January signed yesterday. UF went into signing day hoping to get one of the final four players on its board and got all four --- wideout Kelvin Kight, safety Tre Orr and offensive linemen Jonathan Colon and Max Starks.

MAKING THE DECISION -- DT Kenny Parker was one of three players from Warner Robins (Ga.) Northside High School visiting Gainesville last week, including Jason Respert, who was arrested for attempted sexual battery and burglary. Parker signed with UF yesterday, eliminating any doubt that potential problems with his best friend would cloud any decision.

Jerseys worn by the players above were provided by Gator & 'Nole Country at the Avenues Mall.

FLORIDA Numbers game

UF's signing class of 30 is two over the NCAA maximum of 25 per season, since early enrollees QB Brock Berlin and SLB Kennard Ellis, and walk-on DT Thomas Pittman, count against the '99 class. …

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