As recruiting season winds down with only three weekends left before signing day, there is all kinds of movement up, down, and every which way but loose. With the early enrollment of four star linebacker Alex Anzalone, who had previously been committed to Notre Dame, the Florida Gators are sitting on 27 verbal commitments. With 8 early entries, the Gators can theoretically take up to 33 commits in this year’s class. That is unlikely. More likely they’ll take 3-4 more and call it a day.
Right now the Gators are looking to add a defensive tackle, a defensive end, a wide receiver, and a cornerback. Some other possibilities depending on how they fare with the previous four could be an additional running back, a full back, and a tight end.
At defensive tackle the remaining three on the board are JUCO Jarran Reed, an Ole Miss commit and teammate of Gator commit Darius Cummings, five star Montravius Adams out of Georgia, and four star Jaynard Bostwick out of south Florida. Reed just completed his official visit to Florida this past weekend. He was hosted by both Cummings and Damien Jacobs who came to Florida last season from the same JUCO and left with positive things to say about Florida but did not commit. He still has official visits scheduled the next three weekends to North Carolina, Kentucky, and then Ole Miss. The Gators have medium shot here.
Adams, who visited Florida two weekends ago after the Under Armour All American game, is another that had very positive things to say about the Gators. He had visited for the LSU game and came away impressed with the victory, but returned on an official so his mother could get an idea of the school and the program. By all accounts both loved the trip and were very impressed. Adams visited Clemson this past weekend and still has trips to Alabama, Georgia, and possibly Auburn left. This one is far from over, but still the likelihood at this point for the Gators is low.
Bostwick, has long been considered a UF-Miami battle but recently Alabama has gotten into the fray. He is still scheduled to make his official visit the weekend of the 25th and we’ll certainly know more about his interest at that point. With Miami facing serious sanctions, it’s unlikely that he ends up there, although it is still possible. More likely he’s looking elsewhere and the Gators offer the best opportunity at this point. With the Gators top two defensive tackles gone to graduation and the draft, they offer an opportunity for immediate playing time and are still close to home so family and friends can see him play. Bama certainly is a player any time they get in on a recruit, but this late in the process with distance being a serious factor, it’s unlikely he ends up there. Stay tuned.
Defensive end offers the most drama right now for Gator fans. Elijah Daniel, a four star defensive end out of Indiana and long considered to be the Gators top choice apparently is out at this point. He was scheduled to make his official visit the last weekend before signing day and the thought was that if he did indeed make the trip then he would be a Gator, but apparently that visit is now off according to reports by various recruiting services. The hold up has always been a grades issue and he was thought to have improved his grades enough to schedule an official visit, but the guess here is that he simply didn’t get it done and the staff can’t let him visit. Bad news for the top defensive end on the Gators board as they are left with only Jordan Sherit at end with no true Buck, a position of need.
The good news for Gator fans on the defensive end front, is that reports have surfaced Tuesday that the nation’s top defensive end and consensus overall number one recruit Robert Nkemdiche has decided to take an official visit to Florida. He is expected in this weekend with two other recruits, four star cornerback Shaq Wiggins, a Georgia commit, and four star defensive end Tashawn Bower, who is committed to Auburn. This is a major coup for the Gators if he does indeed make the trip as he has never really listed Florida as a player, only alluding to making a trip during Under Armour Week where he was recruited heavily by current Gator commits. Previously, he listed Ole Miss and LSU as his final two and the thought is he is headed to Ole Miss where his brother is a starting linebacker. In fact, many reports have had him recruiting for the Rebels and considered him a to be a silent commit. If he does actually make the trip the Gators may have a shot but are still a long shot at this point.
Tashawn Bower, as was mentioned, will be visiting this weekend. The Auburn commitment may be a fallback choice for the Gators if Daniel is indeed out. He still has not received an offer from the Gators but that could come this weekend on his official if the staff feels they don’t have a realistic shot at Nkemdiche. Bower is a good player but, like Sherit, would need at least a year to put on weight. He’s definitely not ready size-wise to come in and compete right away as Nkemdiche or Daniel are and he definitely would be behind those two talent-wise as well.
At wide receiver, the Gators have five committed already but have one left on the list they definitely would like to add to this class and that would be speedster James Clark. Clark came down to Gainesville the Sunday before last to visit with Muschamp unofficially and finally received the offer he had been waiting on from the Gators. He visited Nebraska the weekend before last, Clemson this past weekend, and is scheduled to take an official to Florida next weekend. He previously visited Northwestern and Purdue. Clemson jumped in late when they thought they might be losing Demarcus Robinson to Florida which, of course, they did. This past weekend Ohio State got into the fray when Urban Meyer made late overtures, no doubt telling him he could be the next “Percy Harvin”. With one official left, though, which is scheduled to Florida, it’s unlikely Ohio State could be a major player. Of course, there’s always a chance he could switch the last official from Florida to Ohio State. Unlikely, but could happen. The most likely scenario is that this is a Clemson-Florida battle with distance being a factor and he will probably commit next weekend on his Florida official visit.
At cornerback, the Gators only have one committed but it’s a great one in the nation’s top corner and number three overall recruit according to ESPN, Vernon Hargreaves III. With the Gators losing Jaylen Watkins next season to graduation and the possibility of one of Loucheiz Purifoy or Marcus Roberson to early entry in the NFL draft, Muschamp would certainly like to take one more. They are basically down to two right now, Shaq Wiggins and Jalen Ramsey. Wiggins is currently a soft verbal to Georgia and is also considering South Carolina where he visited this past weekend but will be in Gainesville this weekend on an official visit. This one is unlikely as most consider it to be a Georgia-South Carolina battle. Ramsey, however, is another story. The long time Southern Cal commit has been flirting with the Gators since late summer. He is the teammate of current Gator quarterback commit Max Staver and has visited Florida a few times during the season. With the scholarship reductions finally kicking in, current players and commits jumping ship, and with head coach Lane Kiffen being on a short leash, there are whispers around recruiting circles that Ramsey ultimately will not sign with the Trojans. If he doesn’t, while he’s not a shoo-in for the Gators, they probably have the best shot to sign him in the end.
As recruiting season winds down, it appears less and less likely that the Gators will sign a third running back that they’ve been seeking. There’s basically two guys in the mix at this point, Alex Collins and Ryan Green. The Gators appeared to have some momentum with Collins a month ago as he took his official and has certainly been seeking an alternative to Miami which is facing severe sanctions. However, it’s starting to appear he would like to get out of Florida and likely Wisconsin or Arkansas, where former Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema landed, are the front runners at this point. Green is one who the Gators have recruited as their third back for a couple of years, but the current FSU recruit hasn’t showed any propensity to decommit from the Noles. There were some rumors that he would take an official to Florida but ultimately they were just rumors and he should be a Nole on signing day.
At fullback, the Gators still may offer Kennard Swanson, but realistically it depends on who they close with at the top four positions. If they miss on a few, then Swanson will probably get that offer and sign with the Gators. If they pull in a late haul that many expect them to do, then Swanson will be the odd man out. At tight end, the Gators made a late offer to Texas tight end Durham Smythe but two things stand in the way of that. First, like Swanson, the Gators have higher positions of need and if they close they way they are expected to then he’s definitely out. Also, distance is always a huge factor and being from Texas the likelihood is he stays closer to home.
So it appears that with the Gators having the number one ranked class as listed by both ESPN and Rivals, a lot of top recruits are looking to jump on the train late before it leaves the station. While it’s great that the Gators might get a shot at the number one overall recruit Nkemdiche, it’s still highly unlikely, so the best guess at this point is the Gators add four more. One or both of Jaynard Bostwick and Jarran Reed, James Clark, and Jalen Ramsey with Nkemdiche being the wild card.