Police release security-cam footage in Rick Wells, Tyrie Cleveland incident

Florida freshmen Tyrie Cleveland (left) and Rick Wells. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland)
Florida freshmen Tyrie Cleveland (left) and Rick Wells. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland)

Security camera footage of the incident which led to the arrest of two Florida football players was released on Monday.

According to The Alligator, the University Police released video from the incident in compliance with a public records request.

It depicts an incident at Keys Residential Complex, involving freshman Gators receivers Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland, who appear to be shooting pellet guns into the building at freshman wide receiver Joshua Hammond, who appears to place a broom in the door during the video.

The video, which contained two different camera angles, can be watched here.

Wells and Cleveland were arrested following the July incident, and were both charged with criminal mischief for damaging property worth $1,000 or more (third-degree felony) and shooting a missile inside an occupied dwelling (second-degree felony).

Florida coach Jim McElwain released an official statement shortly after the arrest, but chose to keep things short and to the point:

SEC Country’s Zach Abolverdi recently wrote that the incident is likely to be inconsequential in the big picture of the career for the 18 year olds.

Gators land commitment from 4-star CB Marco Wilson

Marco Wilson, a 4-star cornerback from Fort Lauderdale. (Chris Kirschner/AJC)
Marco Wilson, a 4-star cornerback from Fort Lauderdale. (Chris Kirschner/AJC)

Another Wilson is headed to Florida.

The Gators landed a huge verbal commitment Monday from 4-star cornerback Quincy Wilson from American Heritage High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He chose UF over Miami, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern Cal.

“I love Florida,” Wilson told SEC Country. “I have a really strong relationship with the coaches. They talk to me almost every day. I love that about them. I see what they’re doing over there.”

The 6-foot, 180-pound prospect is ranked No. 27 nationally at his position, but appears to be much more elite with an offer list of more than 30 schools. His missed his entire junior season due to a torn ACL, which hurt his rankings.

Wilson is the younger brother of Florida junior cornerback Quincy Wilson, a former Under Armour All-American who has played in every game the past two seasons with 11 starts.

UF is up to 13 members in its 2017 class, and nine of them are rated 4-star prospects by at least two recruiting services.

What it means: Cornerback may the biggest priority for the Gators in this cycle, and they now have a pair of 4-star commits (Elijah Blades and Wilson). Florida is expected to land two more cornerbacks this month in Shawn Davis and Brad Stewart, which would certainly fill the needs at the position from both a quality and quantity standpoint.

Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite. 

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

QB Jake Allen thriving as bond, chemistry with Gators coaches grows

Jake Allen, a 4-star quarterback from Fort Lauderdale. (Special to the AJC)
Jake Allen, a 4-star quarterback from Fort Lauderdale. (Special to the AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — It’s important for a quarterback and his position coach to be on the same page.

Florida commit Jake Allen has developed that kind of rapport with Gators offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier over the past year. Allen, who pledged to UF last summer, worked with Nussmeier and Florida coach Jim McElwain at this past weekend’s Friday Night Lights event.

“The more time I have around Coach Nuss and Coach Mac, the better I get,” said Allen, a product of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“I was just throwing for them and having a good time. It was fun.”

The chemistry between Allen and Nussmeier is evident when they work together, and that relationship exists off the field, as well.

“He’s an awesome guy,” Allen said. “I love hanging around him. I’m comfortable. I don’t have to put on a different persona. I can just be myself.

“He can relate to the quarterback. He used to play it and he knows the position. It’s good to have a coach like that.”

Nussmeier photobombed Allen at the conclusion of Friday Night Lights, and their fun began as soon as the camp started.

“Nuss was talking some trash to me,” Allen said. “We were doing the first drill when you have to throw it through the net, and he told me I couldn’t do it. He goes, ‘Jake, don’t throw it to the ground.’ It was funny. But of course I made it.”

The nation’s No. 10 pro-style quarterback also recruited some offensive skill players during his trip, such as 4-star wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and 4-star running back Adarius Lemons, who committed to Florida on Monday. Allen threw a long touchdown pass to Jeudy after he shook a cornerback to the ground on a juke move that went viral.

“You have to find little niches in their recruitment,” Allen said when asked how he approaches other prospects. “Everyone has something that they want to hear and they want to have in a college. So you have to find that out and keep stressing it.

“It’s not easy going to random guys and talking to them. But I like doing that and I enjoy it.”

Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite. 

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Jim McElwain has Miami WR Mark Pope dreaming about Florida

Mark Pope, a 4-star wide receiver from Southridge High School in Miami. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)
Mark Pope, a 4-star wide receiver from Southridge High School in Miami. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida coach Jim McElwain delivered quite a recruiting pitch to Mark Pope at Friday Night Lights.

The 2018 receiver from Miami was a standout performer during the camp’s one-on-one drills, and afterward he met with McElwain in his office.

“He told me to dream about the Gators,” Pope said. “He goes, ‘When you’re about to go to sleep, close your eyes and picture yourself in an orange and blue jersey.’ I just kept smiling.

“Then he told me to walk outside the stadium, stand in front of it and picture how many touchdowns I’m going to score in The Swamp. I’m going to definitely dream about it.”

Pope scored a handful touchdowns Friday in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, and one of those catches was the highlight of his night.

“The bomb I caught,” Pope said smiling. “The coaches went crazy when I caught it, especially the receivers coach.”

That would be Kerry Dixon II, Pope’s primary recruiter. The two have developed a close relationship since he received an offer from the Gators on Feb. 28.

“He’s just a cool guy,” Pope said of Dixon. “He’s honest. I just see something different about him. I’m comfortable around him and the head coach.”

The 6-foot, 165-pound prospect planned to choose this summer between Alabama and Florida, but he’s holding off after visiting UF. The Crimson Tide were expected to land his commitment.

“I wanted to (decide), but I thought about it and I’m just going to open up my recruiting process,” said Pope, who also lists Miami as a top school. “I want to see what everybody else has to offer.”

Pope visited Florida twice this summer and will be back soon with his teammate, Gators tight end commit Kemore Gamble.

“I really want to come for a game,” Pope said. “Kemore Gamble will go to some this season, so I’m going to come up with him.”

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Recruiting: Gators land Florida’s No. 1 RB, Adarius Lemons

Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)
Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s recruiting momentum continued Sunday with another verbal commitment for the Gators.

Adarius Lemons, a 4-star running back from Clearwater, Fla., flipped from North Carolina to UF. He attended Friday Night Lights and told SEC Country the Gators were pushing for his No. 1 spot.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound prospect is ranked the No. 1 running back in the state of Florida, according to the 247Sports Composite.

Florida now has 12 members in its 2017 class following the additions of Lemons and linebacker James Houston this weekend.

Gators commits and fans got #Lemons2TheSwamp trending on Twitter Sunday, and the UF coaching staff celebrated the news with lemon tweets.

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Florida nabs commitment from in-state LB James Houston

New Gators commit James Houston. (Zach Alboverdi/AJC)
New Gators commit James Houston. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

Florida picked up its first commitment from its Friday Night Lights recruiting event, as Class of 2017 three-star linebacker James Houston said yes to the Gators.

Houston, from American Heritage School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the Gators’ 11th commit in the Class of 2017 and the second linebacker, joining Ventrell Miller, who committed last month.

Gators coach Jim McElwain appeared to appreciate the news, tweeting:

Houston said he tore his ACL a few weeks ago running a route as a tight end during a 7-on-7 competition, but that didn’t stop schools from continuing to pursue the 6-foot-1, 225-pound prospect.

“A lot of colleges stayed on me after the ACL, but I just felt like Florida was really just home for me,” Houston said. … “They know I’m gonna come back stronger, faster, and they still believe in my ability.”

N.J. recruit Artur Sitkowski wows at Florida’s QB camp

Artur Sitkowski, a 2018 quarterback from Old Bridge, N.J. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)
Artur Sitkowski, a 2018 quarterback from Old Bridge, N.J. (Zach Abolverdi/AJC)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida held its Next Level QB Camp on Thursday in the indoor practice facility.

UF coach Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier had several high-profile quarterback trainers on hand, including Elite 11 coach George Whitfield, Jr.

Gators commit Jake Allen won’t throw until Friday, which allowed 2018 quarterback Artur Sitkowski (Old Bridge, N.J.) to steal the show. He was the top performer among the campers Thursday.

“I learned so much from these coaches today,” Sitkowski said afterward. “Coach Nuss, coach McElwain, coach Whitfield — the staff they assembled for this camp was second to none. It’s an incredible experience.”

Sitkowski is ranked the No. 4 pro-style quarterback and No. 71 overall recruit in the Class of 2018. He told SEC Country he wanted to camp at Florida because of the QB track records of McElwain and Nussmeier.

“It’s the Florida Gators,” Sitkowski said. “Coach McElwain has had a lot of success coaching quarterbacks, and so has coach Nuss. So just the attraction of SEC football, big-time quarterback play, that’s probably the two biggest reasons why.”

Sitkowski already holds offers from more than a dozen schools, including Michigan, Ohio State and South Carolina. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound passer probably could have landed a UF offer without camping, but he wanted to earn it.

“My parents instilled in me at a young age that you have to work hard for things in life,” Sitkowski said. “If something is given to you in life, it’s not worth it. I’m going against the best quarterbacks in the country out here. There’s some elite arms out here throwing, so I’m just competing and trying to earn that offer.”

The Gators will likely pull the trigger following his impressive workout, and they could become a major player in his recruitment.

“It would be huge for me,” Sitkowski said of the potential offer. “Florida is a state that I have family in. My aunt and grandmother live (in Tampa). My aunt is a season ticket holder. She’s a Gator fan, so I have a little soft spot for the Gators.

“She’s pulling for the Gators (in recruiting). She wants to see me more often. She tells me I look good in blue and orange.”

The 4-star quarterback attended Florida’s regular season finale against rival Florida State in 2013.

“That was insane,” Sitkowski said of the gameday atmosphere. “I can really see myself going to class here, being a student here, playing football here at the University of Florida. This is one of the few schools I can actually see myself at.”

Sitkowski said North Carolina, Ohio State and South Carolina are the schools sticking out to him right now, but he likes the idea of playing in the SEC.

“It is the best conference,” said Sitkowski, who plans to make his decision next spring. “On Saturday night, who’s playing? SEC teams. Alabama, Florida, South Carolina. They get all that exposure. A lot of players that get drafted come out of the SEC.”

Unless otherwise indicated, ratings and rankings come from the 247Sports Composite. 

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Huge recruiting week for Florida football as two top athletes come to town

Florida coach Jim McElwain speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 11, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Florida coach Jim McElwain speaks to the media at the Southeastern Conference NCAA college football media days, Monday, July 11, 2016, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — This is the final week of Florida’s summer camp sessions, and it promises to be a big one for the Gators.

Friday Night Lights is no longer the lone attraction in July for UF recruiting. Jim McElwain and his staff have several events that will draw some of the nation’s top prospects to Gainesville, Fla.

The Gators have already had a handful of visitors on campus this week.

Pair of nation’s top athletes, others check out Florida

Two of the top five athletes in the country, including an Alabama commit, visited Monday.

UF hosted Tray Bishop from Terrell County High School (Dawson, Ga.) and Chadarius Townsend, a Crimson Tide pledge from Tanner, Ala.

Bishop and Townsend are ranked the nation’s No. 3 and No. 5 athletes, respectively. The Gators appear to have a made a move for Bishop, who has a top 3 of Auburn, Florida and Georgia.

He has pushed back his July 25 decision date and will return to UF later this week for Friday Night Lights.

In-state offensive tackle Cordavien Suggs (Neptune Beach, Fla.) visited on Tuesday as well as New York’s Jeremy Ruckert, the No. 7 tight end for the Class of 2018.

Two Peach State prospects, 2018 athlete Kearis Jackson (Fort Valley, Ga.) and 2019 wide receiver Jashawn Sheffield (Saint Simons Island, Ga.), are in town Wednesday. Both hold offers from Florida.

Elite passers attending Gators QB camp

UF will hold its inaugural camp for quarterbacks Thursday and Friday, dubbed the Next Level QB Camp.

Gators commit Jake Allen will be on hand along with a handful of top quarterbacks for 2018:

Emory Jones, No. 2 dual-threat QB (Franklin, Ga.)
Dorian Thompson Anderson,
No. 4 dual-threat QB (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Casey Thompson
, No. 5 dual-threat QB (Moore, Okla.)
Artur Sitkowski
, No. 4 pro-style QB (Old Bridge, N.J.)
Allan Walters, No. 10 pro-style QB (Paramus, N.J.)

Other passers at the camp will include Zack Annexstad (Bradenton Fla.), Cade Fortin (Suwanee, Ga.), James Foster (Montgomery, Ala.), Michael Johnson Jr. (Sunnyvale, Ca.), Swift Lyle (Mobile, Ala.) and Mike Penix (Tampa, Fla.).

Names to watch for Friday Night Lights

SEC Country will run a full visitor preview ahead of Friday Night Lights, but here’s an early look at some big names who plan on attending Florida’s recruiting showcase:

WR Daquon Green, Tampa, Fla. (Florida commit)
TE Kemore Gamble, Miami, Fla. (Florida commit)
OL Alex Leatherwood, Pensacola, Fla. (Alabama commit)
OL Kadeem Telfort, Miami, Fla. (Florida commit)
DT Fred Hansard, Princeton, NJ.
DT Jordon Scott, Largo, Fla. (Florida commit)
DE Zachary Carter, Tampa, Fla. (Florida commit)
LB Ventrell Miller, Lakeland, Fla. (Florida commit)
LB Nathan Proctor, Indian Head, Md.
CB Shawn Davis, Miami, Fla.
CB DeAngelo Gibbs, Suwanee, Ga.
CB Chris Henderson, Miami, Fla. (Miami commit)
CB Marco Wilson, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
S Devon Hunter, Chesapeake, Va.
S Hamsah Nasirildeen, Concord, N.C.

UF will also hold Sophomore Night on Thursday as well as a 7-on-7 tournament and an OL/DL camp Saturday.

BB gun incident will be inconsequential for Florida’s Tyrie Cleveland, Rick Wells

Florida freshmen Tyrie Cleveland (left) and Rick Wells. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland)
Florida freshmen Tyrie Cleveland (left) and Rick Wells. (Photo courtesy of Cleveland)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The hype surrounding star Florida signee Tyrie Cleveland was halted Monday with his arrest.

He and his roommate, fellow freshman wide receiver and childhood friend Rick Wells, both face two felony charges involving a BB gun. Gators coach Jim McElwain said there will be consequences for Cleveland and Wells, but don’t expect their discipline to center around missing game time.

Cleveland and Wells may be suspended for the season opener, but that’s probably the extent of their on-field punishment. Both players should still practice and scrimmage throughout preseason camp, as did a pair of Georgia freshmen in the spring following their April arrests for a similar incident.

The lawyer(s) for Cleveland and Wells will likely push for a pre-trial diversionary program, where they do community service and pay fines to expunge the charges from their record. Discipline from McElwain will mostly be handled internally.

While BB guns can be harmless fun, shooting them at a building with occupants (even if to prank other teammates) is dangerous and dumb. Perhaps a firearms safety course would also benefit Cleveland and Wells.

They weren’t going to start to the season opener, so their absence wouldn’t hurt Florida’s receiving corps. Wells was already a redshirt candidate because of depth at the position, but Cleveland is the Gators’ best incoming wideout in years and figures to be a contributor in 2016.

Cleveland had a difficult upbringing and grew up around deadly violence, most notably his brother’s murder, so this incident could serve as a valuable learning experience before he reaches potential stardom at UF.

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

Elite 11 QBs assess Florida commit Jake Allen: ‘He’s a pro-style Tebow’

Florida quarterback commit Jake Allen. (Giancarlo Falconi / Special to AJC)
Florida quarterback commit Jake Allen. (Giancarlo Falconi / Special to AJC)

BEAVERTON, Ore. — Whether it’s coaches, fellow recruits or even future rivals, Florida commit Jake Allen has a way of winning people over.

Last month, the 4-star quarterback from St. Thomas Aquinas High School (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) competed in the Elite 11 finals, an annual competition for the top QBs in the nation. Allen impressed Trent Dilfer and George Whitfield Jr. at the camp, and he finished third in the Elite 11 pro day contest.

Allen, one of 24 quarterbacks who competed, didn’t place in the top 12 and earn an invite to The Opening, Nike’s annual football camp for elite recruits. But the signal-callers who did make it there spoke highly of the future Gator.

Alabama QB commit Tua Tagovailoa (Elite 11 MVP): “Jake is an enthusiastic guy. That’s probably one of my best friends I made at this camp. He’s just a funny, lovable guy. He’s awesome, man. He’s not only a vocal leader, but he can spread the ball out. He has a great arm. Florida is lucky to get someone like him. I think he’s going to do something special. With his leadership and talent, he’s a pro-style (Tim) Tebow.”

Georgia QB commit Jake Fromm: “Jake is a great QB but a great guy as well. I ended up rooming with him. I thought it was kind of funny because of the Florida-Georgia rivalry. We didn’t pull any pranks on each other, though. But he’s someone I’ll have to compete against for the next four years, and I’ll enjoy it. He’s very knowledgeable. He can read defensive coverages and knows where to go with the ball.”

LSU QB commit Myles Brennan: “Jake is accurate and precise. He’s big and has a powerful arm. He goes through his progressions. He’s an all-around great quarterback. I spent a lot of time with him because he was in my group the whole time. He was always leading our group. Him and I became really close. I think there’s big things to come for him. He’ll be in a great system at Florida and I hope to see him on Saturdays.”

Ohio State QB commit Tate Martell: “Jake’s a great player. I’ve been around him a lot, going to Steve Clarkson’s camp and then at the Elite 11. I have nothing but respect for him. He can gel with all his guys on the field pretty fast, and that’s a good strength for him to have. As a quarterback, he’s an accurate passer that can deliver the ball on time. He’s also consistent. I have no doubt he can make an impact at Florida.”

Zach Abolverdi is the Florida beat writer for SEC Country and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.