Florida Football: Billy Napier is exploring a tempting gamble with Cormani McClain

The former five-star defensive back who was a one time Florida Gators lean is in talks to come to Gainesville
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When Florida Football initially missed out on five-star defensive back Cormani McClain, it felt like a whiff from Billy Napier. As things have played out, it ended up becoming a bullet dodged.

Now, with minimal leverage following his departure from Colorado, McClain is in talks with Napier about coming to Florida. It would be a win for the program, but it comes with risk.

Florida Football: Second Chance

We all remember the recruiting nightmare of Jaden Rashada, but McClain's wasn't any better. He was considered a Florida lean in the summer of 2023 and had predictions logged that he would come to Florida. He then surprised everyone when he chose Miami, but then on signing day he never signed. Instead he wound up flipping to Colorado to play for Deion Sanders.

From the outside, it looked like McClain was chasing whoever would pay him the most and/or provide him with the most glitz and glamour. The problem was that once he got to college, his raw talents from high school weren't enough, and he quickly caught the ire of Sanders.

McClain hit the spring transfer portal and despite being a five-star prospect from the class of 2023, it appears his phone stayed mostly silent. At one point it was being reported that USF was a possibly landing destination for him, an up and coming program close to home but not a school a five-star would pick with their first choice.

Well now it is coming out that Napier is coming back around to McClain and the two have been in talks. Pete Nakos of On3 , Jacob Rudner of Swamp247, and Matt Zenitz of 247, among others, are reporting that McClain is expected to take a visit to Gainesville.

Some of the rumblings are that McClain would have to come onto the program as a preferred walk on considering the Gators are already capped at 85 scholarship.

Take away any rumored off the field drama and the reality is that McClain wasn't good on the field in 2023. According to Pro Football Focus, of the 488 defensive backs in the country who took at least 200 snaps, McClain graded 475th.

He had a missed tackle rate of 37% on the season and against Washington State he was targeted 11 times, surrendering eight receptions.

The potential for McClain is still sky-high if he can turn it around, which is why Napier is entertaining the idea of bringing him aboard. It's also fascinating when Napier has spent the last two years meticulously crafting the locker room, taking a snail's pace approach in the transfer portal because he wants to make sure guys are the right fit, to turn around and explore bringing on a player who seemingly goes against what he has tried to build.

If Napier believes that McClain recognizes what has gone wrong and is showing signs he is willing to turn it around, then there is minimal risk in bringing McClain on, especially if he is a walk on.

But the risk isn't zero that McClain rubs off on the locker room the wrong way if he isn't changed.

For Napier, he has to decide if the potential reward outweighs the potential risk.