Countdown to Signing Day: Weekend Rap, Final Board

Cornerback Quincy Wilson is the undisputed leader of the 2014 Florida Gator recruiting class.

Cornerback Quincy Wilson is the undisputed leader of the 2014 Florida Gator recruiting class.

With national signing day a mere week and a half away, the Florida Gators are trying to put the final touches on what is already considered a top ten class by most major services. On the second to the last recruiting weekend, the Gators hosted a small group which included cornerback commit Quincy Wilson, Florida State receiver commit C.J. Worton, and uncommitted offensive tackle Andrew Mike.

Quincy Wilson, the effervescent and ever-confident cornerback, has been the foundation of this Gator recruiting class since committing back in August. At 6’1 196, Wilson has all the necessary physical tools to succeed at Florida which has a long history of putting out top flight defensive backs going back to the 80’s when Jarvis Williams and Louis Oliver were roaming the backfield. Quincy is a long, tall, physical corner who fits the mold that head coach Will Muschamp prefers in his cornerbacks. He’s a natural at the position with great skills and instincts and will likely compete for a starting job this fall.

Perhaps, even more importantly, Wilson has been the glue that has held this class together in spite of the Gators’ struggles on the field this past season finishing with it’s first losing season since 1979. Quincy has been an ardent recruiter and supporter of Gator Nation not only to recruits in this year’s class but also in next year’s as well. He’s well known and well liked among south Florida recruits and his confidence is infectious and has made him a fan favorite.

By all accounts, Quincy had a great time on his official visit this weekend helping to recruit fellow south Florida player and Florida State commit C.J. Worton. A prolific social media star, Quincy has over 6,000 followers on Twitter, he has sung the praises of Gator Nation at every opportunity and had many good things to tweet this weekend.

C.J. Worton appeared to have a great time this weekend as well on his official visit to Florida. A long time FSU commit, he received an offer from the Gators coming out of all star week and has been looking around since. Many have felt for weeks that Worton ultimately will not be in the Seminole class on signing day. With the Gators missing out on their top two targets at receiver, Ermon Lane and Eric Lauderdale, the staff couldn’t have picked a better weekend to bring Worton in. For one, they had such a small group they were able to give max attention to Worton and make him fell welcome, secondly his host was fellow commit and early enrollee Will Grier who will likely by his quarterback should he pull the trigger for Florida, and finally who better for Worton to hang out with than Gator commit and South Florida superstar Quincy Wilson?

FSU receiver commit C.J. Worton with receiver's coach Joker Phillips on his official visit to Florida.

FSU receiver commit C.J. Worton with receiver’s coach Joker Phillips on his official visit to Florida.

For what it’s worth, Worton did not commit this weekend either publicly or silently and still publicly remains committed to FSU. His word is that he had a good time and has a lot to think about before signing day. Unfortunately, for the Gators, FSU gets that all important final visit next weekend right before the silent period leading to signing day. As is often the case with another team’s commit, if he doesn’t commit to your school the weekend he visits and his original school gets a late visit, it usually bodes ill for your team. Fortunately, for the Gators I’m not so sure that is the case here.¬†

For one, there’s a reason he’s looking around so late. For a guy who’s been committed to FSU for a year it’s very odd that he would start looking around and taking visits this late. Absent staff turnover, which is not the case here, it’s usually a sign there are problems in the relationship. Sometimes the staff continues to recruit players at his position and it upsets the recruit and causes him to look around ala Mike Davis a couple of years ago and sometimes the staff has stopped recruiting that player and to save face he remains committed until he finds another school.¬†With FSU only having one other receiver committed and it’s class more than full, the former is certainly not the case. Could it be the latter? That situation doesn’t make sense either with only one other receiver committed and rumors that he might flip as well floating about.

Secondly, his family likes Florida. An older brother, Cody, was a walk on at¬†Florida¬†under Urban Meyer and his mom reportedly loves the academics and is impressed with the staff. That’s always a positive sign when the family is on board. With the FSU visit coming up this weekend we should know by Sunday which way he’s truly leaning. I feel certain though that should he not sign with FSU he will be a Gator.

Finally, offensive tackle Andrew Mike’s visit was somewhat tight lipped other than the standard “he had a great time” that every recruit says. Have you ever heard one say, “man that visit sucked. Those people don’t have a clue what they’re doing”? I’ve seen recruits screw up visits royally but I’ve never heard of a school doing that. For what it’s worth, this one is likely a Arkansas-UF battle in the end with hometown Arizona Wildcats being a wildcard no pun intended. Like with Worton, Mike did not commit on his visit and will be talking things over with his parents over the next week or so before he makes a decision.

With top OL target Damien Prince still on the board and coming the final weekend, it’s unclear if the staff would have allowed Mike to commit on this trip if he so desired. With the Gators board dwindling by the day it’s very possible the staff could take both Mike and Prince but it is as of yet unclear if they actually will.

Absent the sleeper recruits that pop up near signing day every year, the Gators board has been reduced to cornerback/receiver Adoree Jackson, offensive tackles Damien Prince and Andrew Mike, receiver’s Isaiah McKenzie and C.J. Worton, quarterback Treon Harris, and defensive ends Lorenzo Carter and Rocel McWilliams. There are other names that may or may not be fallback guys but these are the guys that have committable offers and are the main guys that we should focus on moving forward.

To be clear, the Gators are done at running back, they are satisfied with Brandon Powell and are not recruiting anyone else at this point. They are also not going to take a linebacker in this cycle. A lot of rumors have been bandied about concerning Richard Yeargin III a linebacker who decommitted from Notre Dame a couple of days ago. The staff is not recruiting him and he is not a candidate. He’s likely to choose his original runner up school Clemson. There was a lot of fodder over the summer that he tried to commit to Florida but was not allowed to by the staff before choosing Notre Dame. That story does have some wheels. After taking four top rated linebackers last cycle, the staff had only a few top guys targeted, mainly Christian Miller, but were unable to secure a commitment and decided that they will not reach for one this cycle. 2015 is loaded with top recruits that favor the Gators and they want to be able to load up on top talent next year.

Under Armour All American and two way. two sport star Adoree Jackson is the highest rated recruit left on the Gators board for 2014. Photo credit to ESPN.

Under Armour All American and two way. two sport star Adoree Jackson is the highest rated recruit left on the Gators board for 2014. Photo credit to ESPN.

Adoree Jackson is the highest rated recruit left on the board and is likely a signing day decision. He continues to drag out the drama of who will receive his final visit next weekend. For his part, he has never officially visited UF but did visit on his own dime last summer and says he has seen all he needs to so it’s not important for him to take an official there. You can take that with a grain of salt. The other major player, USC, is also a school he hasn’t taken an official to but has also visited unofficially numerous times as he is going to school in the area. Being from the midwest, Jackson reportedly moved to SoCal to live with his sister and play football/track with the express desire to go to USC. With the staff changes those plans appeared to be up in the air and the Gators were thought to have gained the upper hand in his recruitment due in large part to his relationship with UF track coach Mike Holloway and defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson his position coach and UF’s ace recruiter.

Recently, however, his recruitment has been trending away from UF. Many feel the new staff at USC has quieted his concerns and has all but gained his verbal committment. New head coach Steve Sarkisian is a great recruiter as witnessed by his recent flip of Alabama quarterback commit Ricky Towns and many feel he has convinced Jackson to stick with his original plan. I, as have many, have long felt Jackson would be a Gator but my confidence in that is dwindling by the day simply because he has stopped talking about UF almost entirely. The fact that he is unlikely to take an official to Florida at first didn’t bother me because he’s been there, has a great relationship with the staff, and UF has a top rated track program. However, if he does indeed take an official to USC on the final weekend you can pencil him into the Trojan class. For what it’s worth, he lists six schools as finalists but I personally believe it’s a USC/UF battle in the end (sorry FSU). My gut feeling here is Trojan.

Damien Prince is another top guy at a position of high need. With the Gators losing the middle of their offensive line and loads of experience it is important the staff bring in as much quality talent there as they can. Prince is a guy they got in on late but recent developments have worked in Florida’s favor. First, the Gators secured a commitment and early enrollment from top corner Jalen Tabor from nearby Washington, DC and a close friend of Prince’s. Tabor has been very public about his recruitment of his good buddy to the Gators. That alone can’t hurt. Secondly, the home state Maryland Terrapins, where many thought he would end up due to distance, recently lost his position coach which also helps the Gators’ fortunes. Add in reports that the staff sold his mother on going to UF and you have a solid trifecta in Florida’s favor. It helps a bunch that they get his last visit and that his buddy Tabor is enrolled and will be there to show him around and sell him on playing together. This one is certainly trending up for Florida and my gut feeling is on signing day he will be a Gator.

This brings us to Isaiah McKenzie the speedy slot receiver who tripped to Florida last weekend and took an official to Ole Miss this past weekend. Not much word on how this visit went, but realistically this recruitment is likely a Notre Dame/UF battle in the end. He is considered a soft commit to Notre Dame by many services and they get his last visit next weekend. The Gators visited with him this past week just a couple of days after his official visit which shows how much the staff wants him in this class as they look for offensive playmakers to fill needed roles in new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper’s spread offense. The word coming out of last weekend’s visit to Florida was very positive and he publicly stated that the new system is a good fit for his skill set. The biggest question will be how tight is his bond with Notre Dame and how much does that final visit play a role in his final decision.

As is usually the case with recruiting, relationships are key and the final visit can be a deal maker or breaker. With Notre Dame having a much longer established relationship with McKenzie AND with them getting the final visit, it may be too much ground for the Gators to make up here. For what it’s worth, Gator people feel good about their chances here but my personal feeling is Notre Dame is too much and the Gators were too little and too late on this one. I think he’ll be in the Fighting Irish class come signing day.

At quarterback, it’s very clear the staff wants one more in this class to pair with top choice Will Grier who is already enrolled. it’s also very clear that one guy is FSU commit Treon Harris. Harris has long been a Nole commit but they recruited him as a defensive back and he really wants a shot at quarterback in college. He visited UF last weekend with his parents and reports were that he and his family were impressed with Florida and how they plan to use Treon. Auburn has snuck in the back door getting a visit from him this past weekend and is recruiting him as an athlete. Might they have tipped his hand a little with their spread offense which had them playing the Noles for a national championship this past season? Possibly, but my feeling is not likely. I truly believe this will be an FSU/UF battle in the end and I don’t see him ending up in the Noles class. As I said before, any time a long time commit starts looking around and visiting this close to signing day it’s not a good sign for the team he’s commited to. The Gators are the only team to recruit him specifically as a quarterback and my feeling is that he flips to the Gators on signing day.

At defensive end, it’s no secret the Gators top target has long been Lorenzo Carter out of Norcross, Georgia. The Gators have been locked in a tight recruiting battle with the home state Georgia Bulldogs for some time and now it appears LSU, where he visited last weekend, and FSU have crept in as well.

All American Lorenzo Carter is the top defensive line target remaining for the Gators. Photo credit to  AJC. com

All American Lorenzo Carter is the top defensive line target remaining for the Gators. Photo credit to AJC. com

Carter named the Gators as his leader after visiting last summer but that lead appeared to dwindle over the season as he failed to make it back to campus for the FSU game while taking multiple visits to Athens. Many have felt for months that Georgia was the team to beat until defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left to become the DC at Louisville. However, when Georgia head coach Mark Richt hired FSU defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt as their new DC they appeared to save this recruitment just as many felt Florida might regain the edge.

After the LSU visit, Carter made it public that his recruitment was still wide open despite reports otherwise and he wouldn’t be naming any leaders. He also is taking a final visit to FSU this coming weekend before making a final decision. He also said that Florida has not lost any ground in his recruitment. What does this mean? It means the Gators are solidly in the thick of things. His family, while stating they will support his decision wherever he chooses to go, did make the statement that an older daughter going to school out of state was a hardship because they were unable to visit, which means a lot in regards to his recruitment. I, personally, don’t see him tripping all the way to Baton Rouge. Georgia looks to be the leader and likely destination here in spite of what he says with Florida a close second and FSU a distant third. Of course, it’s possible the Noles make up some ground on his visit this weekend but with the turnover they haven’t had time to build the relationship that either Georgia or Florida has. His family has also stated that they were impressed with Florida and the staff but in the end I think distance and Jeremy Pruitt are too much for the Gators to overcome and he will be a Bulldog on signing day.

Which brings us to Rocel McWilliams out of Pensacola, Florida. McWilliams was a surprise visitor last weekend to UF but came away impressed with everything. The Missouri commit admittedly has a lot to think about. He was set to attend Missouri with teammate Lawrence Lee when the Gators offered in late December. His visit last weekend left him torn between the school and staff he had long committed to and built a great relationship with and a dream school. His family are huge Gator fans, especially his father, and while they publicly support his decision regardless, he admits they are strongly pushing him to Florida. Add in distance, a six hour drive to Gainesville versus a 16 plus hour drive to Missouri and the Gators have a lot of going in their favor right now. He took his official to Missouri this weekend and while still publicly committed to the Tigers he has stated he is still confused and not sure what his final decision will be. Personally, I think that bodes well for the Gators. In the end, I think he will go with family ties and distance and his heart and ends up a Gator on signing day.

And as always stay tuned to Swamp Music for the latest updates and FREE news, analysis, and opinion relating to Florida Gator recruiting and athletics.

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