With 22 commits and three JUCO’s already signed in this class, the Florida Gators will likely have 3-5 spots left to fill before signing day. Wide receiver, defensive end, cornerback, and defensive tackle are the four positions the coaches would like to add one more recruit. They are also still considering adding a fullback as well.
At wide receiver, the Gators rode the roller coaster that is Demarcus Robinson, backing out of his long-time commitment to Clemson, switching to the Gators, and then recommitting to the Tigers after a weekend visit to Florida. Strangest thing I’ve seen in a while in a game that is prone to very odd happenings on a regular basis. Usually a guy takes a visit, decommits to his original school and commits to the visited school. In this case, he decommitted before visiting Florida and then recommitted to his original school AFTER visiting.
So with Robinson likely off the board, not entirely but probably as he is scheduled to be an early entry, the Gators will turn to James Clark who still has yet to receive a Florida offer. Clark is a speedster out of New Smyrna Beach, Florida who shot up the recruiting charts this season and only recently received attention from the Gator coaching staff. He’s had a visit from both offensive coordinator Brent Pease and new receiver’s coach Joker Phillips and will likely commit if and when offered by the staff. If the Gators are unable to flip Robinson before he enrolls in January look for the Gators to immediately offer and accept Clark’s commitment.
At defensive end there’s likely five guys still on the board with Elijah Daniels, Ebenezer Ogundeko, Tashawn Bower, Jason Hatcher and DeMarcus Walker. Daniel, a four star from Avon, Indiana, is the likeliest of the five if he can make the grade to qualify at Florida. He’s had an up and down ride with the Gator’s throughout the recruiting process. He was high on the Gators for a while and the interest was mutual from the staff before committing to Clemson last summer because the staff cooled on him due to grade issues. Apparently he has buckled down on the schoolwork and had worked his way back into the staff’s good graces and he decommitted from Clemson over a month ago. He’s expected to take an official to Florida in January and if he makes the visit we’ll know more about the likelihood of a commitment.
Ogundeko is a recruit that seemed high on the Gators over the summer when he made an unofficial to Florida, then cooled, then heated back up after visiting officially in November and lately has seemed to cool. Most have him pegged as a Clemson lean at this point and that is likely where he will end up.
Bower, from Somervile, New Jersey, is an Auburn commit that might be looking around due to turnover in the coaching staff and might be a fallback if the Gators miss on both Daniel and Ogundeko. He is scheduled to make an official to Florida on January 18 and once he makes the visit it will be clearer if he is a viable option at this point.
Jason Hatcher, from Louisville, Kentucky, is another player committed to another team that is considering the Gators. He currently is committed to the USC Trojans but has an official scheduled to Florida on January 25th. The staff appears to be very high on Hatcher and is recruiting him very hard. Like Bower, we’ll know more about the seriousness of his interest once he arrives on campus.
Finally, do not count DeMarcus Walker, from Jacksonville, out just yet. As the fourth member of the Jacksonville four, the other three of which are currently committed to the Gators, it was expected that he might follow suit and commit to the Gators as well over the summer. He didn’t and instead committed to the Crimson Tide. At the time, many analysts said to keep an eye on it that it was not over, but as the season went by he seemed to get stronger and stronger in his commitment to the Tide.
Recently, Zach Alboverdi, a recruiting analyst for the Gainesville Sun’s gatorsports.com, published a forum post in which he purported that Walker had actually been having second thoughts since the loss of the Walker’s main recruiter for the Tide and the possibility he would like to stay closer to home. He said that Walker had actually applied for early enrollment at UF and might be close to flipping to the Gators. Another example of why recruiting has way more ups and downs than the games themselves and is not for the faint of heart. Check out Alboverdi’s post here.
Cornerback is another position the Gators would like to add another quality player with the likelihood they could lose one or two underclassmen next season at the position. Right now they have only one corner committed, although it is the top rated corner in the nation in Vernon Hargreaves III. The highest player on the board outside of Hargreaves has been Jalen Ramsey, from quarterback commit Max Staver’s school Brentwood Academy in Brentwood, Tennessee. He’s been committed to USC since mid July but has shown interest since officially visiting Florida in September. He had mentioned the possibility of coming back for games but never did. As time passes the likelihood of him flipping to Florida goes down considerably.
Next up is Mackensie Alexander, a guy who had left the Gators off his top school list previously, but has shown renewed interest since the hiring of Joker Phillips with whom Alexander has a good relationship from when he was still head coach at Kentucky. This one still might be a longshot for the Gators but might actually be likelier than Ramsey at this point.
On the outside, not quite looking in would be Shaquille Wiggins from Tyrone, Georgia who is a longshot for the Gators at this point but is still actively being recruited. He does have an official visit scheduled, which is more than we can say about Alexander, for January 19th, but the Georgia commit is not likely to be in this class for the Gators. As always, we’ll know more once he makes it to campus.
Defensive tackle is another position of need with the loss of senior Omar Hunter and the likely loss of junior Shariff Floyd as well as the possible loss of junior Dominique Easley. They would certainly like to add one more with JUCO transfer Darious Cummings and Caleb Brantley the only true nose players committed at this time. At the top of the list would be everyone’s top defensive tackle, five star Montravious Adams from Vienna, Georgia. He is considering a ton of top schools but as of now has only one visit set to Clemson. Most analysts consider Florida to be only lip service for him and expect it to be a Clemson-Georgia battle for his services.
Behind Adams, and more likely in this class, is Jaynard Bostwick from Port St. Lucie, Florida. He is very high on the Gators and the feeling is mutual. He has made a qualifying grade on the ACT which was the concern previously with the staff. This one will likely come down to a Miami-Florida battle in the end, but with the Canes NCAA troubles, Florida might be in a good position with him.
With all of the Gators top tight ends off the board, they will likely look to sign a fullback in this class to provide depth and take over once Hunter Joyer graduates. The only fullback they are considering is former LSU commit Kennard Swanson from Lakeland, Florida. He will likely commit if and when he officially receives a Gator offer. If he is offered look for it to be a signing day decision as they await movement at other positions of higher need.
With signing day a little over a month and a half away, stay tuned as we keep you updated on the latest in Florida Gator football recruiting and Merry Christmas.