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    Florida Top Ranked In CBN Poll

    TUCSON, Ariz. - The University of Florida is the overwhelming favorite to capture the 2012 NCAA Division I College World Series, according to "Collegiate Baseball's" Fabulous 40 NCAA Division I pre-season poll.

    The Gators return one of the strongest teams in college baseball history after finishing second at the CWS last season to South Carolina. Florida brings back seven players who are Louisville Slugger pre-season All-Americans, an all-time record. In addition, seven players have the potential of being drafted in the first three rounds of next June's Free Agent Draft.

    The talent level is so high that up to 14 players could be drafted next June, according to Head Coach Kevin O'Sullivan. The Gators landed Collegiate Baseball's No. 1 recruiting class in the nation during the fall of 2009 with many of these players key components of the 2012 team. That class featured seven drafted players among the 11-man class.

    Florida followed that with a recruiting class ranked fifth in 2010 with six players being drafted among the eight brought in. The headliner in that class was RHP Karsten Whitson (Chipley H.S., FL) who was a first round draft pick of the Padres. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder's fastball topped out at
    96 mph.

    Last season as a freshman for Florida, he was 8-1 with a 2.40 ERA, 92 strikeouts and only 28 walks. According to news accounts, Whitson turned down a signing bonus close to $2 million to be a Gator.

    Florida then landed a recruiting class ranked eighth nationally in 2011 (four drafted players).

    The high profile players who are expected to go in the first three rounds of the 2012 draft include:

    * C Mike Zunino (SEC Player of The Year in 2011, .371, 19 HR, 23 2B, 67 RBI).
    * LHP/1B Brian Johnson (8-3, 3.62 ERA, 72 K, 15 BB, .307, 5 HR, 11 2B, 29 RBI).
    * RHP/1B Austin Maddox (5 SV, 3-0, 0.67 ERA, .280, 6 HR, 3 2B, 35 RBI).
    * RHP Hudson Randall (11-3, 2.17 ERA, 73 K, 13 BB).
    * SS Nolan Fontana (great defense, .289, 5 HR, 12 2B, 49 RBI).
    * RF Preston Tucker (.308, 15 HR, 23 2B, 74 RBI).
    * LHP Steve Rodriguez (4-2, 2 SV, 1.91 ERA, 44 K, 12 BB).

    And you could go on and on about the superb athletes Florida can bring to the table.

    Florida has extraordinary starting pitchers, relievers and closers for any potential hitting matchup. Offensively, the team hit .307 with 69 home runs last season and belted 143 doubles as the Gators averaged 6.3 runs per game.

    In the final 2011 national NCAA statistics, Florida ranked No. 1 in hits by its offense (755), No. 5 in doubles, and No. 5 in homers.

    The pitching staff ranked No. 1 in the nation in walks allowed per nine innings at 1.82. The staff had a 2.95 team ERA and had more than a 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio (547 strikeouts and 130 walks).

    Opponents had a difficult time running on the Gators last season with an All-American catching in Zunino and a pitching staff that kept runners close. Only 31 bases were stolen off the Gators last season in 47 attempts over 72 games.

    For a detailed rundown on the top 40 teams, see the Jan. 6, 2012 edition of "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper which also includes a complete look at every NCAA Division I Conference with pre-season rankings and a listing of top players in each league, including projected pitchers and players of the year.

    In addition, this issue of "Collegiate Baseball" features a draft preview of all potential college players who may be picked in the first two rounds of the 2012 Free Agent Draft next spring and Louisville Slugger pre-season All-American teams.

    The "Collegiate Baseball" Newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1958 college baseball season.

    Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's   
    NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Top 40 Poll
    (As of Dec. 19, 2011)   
    Rank School ('11 Final Record)    Points
    1. Florida (53-19)            497
    2. South Carolina (55-14)        494
    3. Stanford (35-22)            490
    4. North Carolina (51-16)        488
    5. Texas (49-19)                485
    6. Texas A&M (47-22)            484
    7. Rice (42-21)                482
    8. Arkansas (40-22)            479
    9. Georgia Tech. (42-21)        476
    10. Texas Christian (43-19)        474

    11. St. John's (36-22)            470
    12. Louisiana St. (36-20)        468
    13. Florida St. (46-19)            465
    14. Miami, Fla. (38-23)            464
    15. Louisville (32-29)            460
    16. Oklahoma (41-19)            458
    17. Arizona St. (43-18)            457
    18. Georgia (33-32)            455
    19. UCLA (35-24)                454
    20. Arizona (39-21)            452

    21. Cal. St. Fullerton (41-17)    449
    22. California (38-23)            447
    23. Vanderbilt (54-12)            445
    24. Oregon St. (41-19)            443
    25. Clemson (43-20)            437
    26. Stetson (43-20)            435
    27. Oregon (33-26-1)            432
    28. Baylor (31-28)            430
    29. U.C. Irvine (43-18)            425
    30. Southern Miss. (39-19)        422

    31. Missouri St. (33-23)        419
    32. College of Charleston (39-22)    417
    33. Virginia (56-12)            413
    34. Georgia Southern (36-26)        412
    35. Texas St. (41-23)            408
    36. Central Florida (39-23)        406
    37. Wichita St. (39-26)            403
    38. Jacksonville (37-24)        400
    39. Florida International (40-20-1)    397
    40. Southern California (25-31)    395

    OTHER TEAMS RECEIVING VOTES: Coastal Carolina, Oklahoma St., Charlotte, East Carolina, Kent St., Creighton, Oral Roberts, Troy, South Alabama, San Diego, Gonzaga, San Francisco, Fresno St., Hawaii, Dallas Baptist, N.C. State, Mississippi St., Auburn, Mississippi, Kentucky, Tennessee, Stony Brook, Maine, Connecticut, Seton Hall, Notre Dame, South Florida, Liberty, Winthrop, Purdue, Michigan St., Minnesota, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas St., Texas Tech., Missouri, Cal Poly, Long Beach St., U.C. Riverside, James Madison, Tulane, Houston, Manhattan, Rider, Central Michigan, Illinois St., New Mexico, San Diego St., Nevada-Las Vegas, Austin Peay St., Samford, Elon, N.C. Greensboro, S.E. Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, San Jose St., New Mexico St., Cal. St. Bakersfield.