Back in February, it was pretty unanimous that Jeff Driskel was the most important prospect  in the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class. The numbers were dangerously low at quarterback, Driskel was the highest-rated quarterback in the nation by some recruiting services, and he was an early enrollee.

One could make an argument now that Ja’Juan Story is just as important a get for the Gators.

With the departure last week of Chris Dunkley and Javares McRoy, the Gators are down to eight scholarship wide receivers. The number will grow to nine this summer with the enrollment of Story.

Late in the recruiting process, Story was showing serious interest in Ohio State and there was concern in the Florida camp he might back out of his UF commitment and sign with the Buckeyes. Had that happened, the 2011 recruiting class would not have a wide receiver in it (with McRoy’s transfer to Texas Tech). And wide receiver was a huge need for the Gators with UF going to a pro-style offense under Charlie Weis.

Even with Story in the fold (and expected to compete for possible playing time in the fall), the Gators are low in numbers and experience at wide receiver. And low in production.

The most experienced wideout is fifth-year senior Deonte Thompson, who has started 24 games. The other seven wide receivers have combined for eight starts — and seven of those starts belong to one player, Omarius Hines.

Five of the wide receivers — Stephen Alli, Robert Clark, Quinton Dunbar, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Solomon Patton — have never started a game.

The eight wide receivers on campus now have combined for only 126 receptions — and 102 of those receptions belong to three players (Thompson, Hines and Hammond). The other five receivers have a mere 24 catches between them.

Offensive coordinators and receivers coaches will usually tell you they like to have at least 10 wide receivers who are game-ready heading into the season. The Gators may not be in that position going into the 2011 season.

Based on the spring, it’s doubtful Dunkley and McRoy would have been much of a factor in the fall.

What is obvious now is that Ja’Juan Story is right up there with Driskel in terms of being one of the most important players in the 2011 recruiting class. He might even turn out to be THE most important this season.

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