Florida Gator Recruiting: The Friday Five 3/3

Orlando, Fl Olympia high quarterback Deondre Francois at UF's Junior Day. (gatorzone)

Orlando, Fl Olympia high quarterback Deondre Francois at UF’s Junior Day. (gatorzone)

A big apology goes out from Swamp Music. I reinjured a bulging disc in my back last Monday and spent the week laid up in bed and doped up on pain killers and muscle relaxers until I could rehab my back. This is the post I was working on for last Friday.

After signing a top five class in 2013 and following up that with a top ten class in 2014, the Gator staff is hard at work preparing for what could very well be another top five and possibly top rated recruiting class for 2015. Currently, there’s room for a 19 member signing class but with expected attrition between now and signing day 2015 the Gators could be looking at upwards of a 25 member class. 2015 is a very strong and deep class across the board in state and is especially deep at positions of need for the Gators.

The biggest need at this point for the Gators should be linebacker. The Gators didn’t sign any in the 2014 class after missing on their top targets. They did sign four top rated linebackers in 2013 so it was not a priority in the last cycle. It will be a priority in 2015. One guy that the Gator staff is extremely high on right now is Adonis Thomas, 6’4 215, from Lawrenceville, GA Central Gwinnett High.

Thomas is a rangy player with a solid frame to add another 20-25 pounds and has great speed. The staff is always looking for great pass rushers who can also drop back in coverage. Thomas fills that bill very well. He’s a fantastic edge rusher and is athletic enough to play wide receiver in high school as well as outside linebacker. He uses his hands well to shed blockers and is a sure tackler.

He has offers from a ton of major programs including Florida, Ohio State, and Miami. Not sure if any team leads for him right now but the Gators are very interested and squarely in the mix at this point.

check out his Hudl highlights here.

At running back, one guy who’s been getting more attention than anybody else of late is Dexter Williams from Orlando, FL. Williams visited UF back in late January then received an offer approximately two weeks later and it appears the staff has really focused in on him as the #2 guy on their running back board behind Jacques Patrick. He’s been picking up offers left and right since signing day with Notre Dame being the latest to offer on Monday.

Williams has good size at 6’1 190 and great speed. He was the top performer at the Nike SPARQ Combine at Lake Butler where he ran a 4.45 40 yard dash. He has sort of an unusual straight up running style but he doesn’t dance around in the backfield and once he squares his shoulder’s he has a quick burst that allows him to get past defenders. Once in the secondary, he has good bounce moves that make him even more elusive and a threat to take it to the house at any point in time.

He looks like a good spread type back because he can run laterally, find a crease, and get squared up northward quickly and he has good acceleration through the hole and can out run defenders once he hits the second level.

While he has no leaders which is understandable considering he had no offers only three weeks ago, the Gators whom he’s visited a few times and Ohio State whom he has been enamored with since receiving their offer have to be at or near the top at this point.

Cornerback Jalen Thompson of Mobile, AL St Paul’s Episcopal high school is very high on the Gators. While he has spoken very fondly of them in the past, admitting he grew up a Gator fan, he made it official on Monday releasing a top five in order on Twitter with the Gators at the top.

https://twitter.com/NoFlyZone_7/status/438146218351673344

At 6’0 165, Thompson has good height and a good frame to add weight. More importantly, he has good cover skills, good hips, and great instincts. He’s also a skilled returner on special teams. As a junior, Thompson had 7 interceptions two of which were returned for touchdowns as well as a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and 39 tackles.

He’s a real solid all around athlete. As a punt returner he had three touchdowns called back last season. He’s also a good baseball player, center fielder with good speed, and a basketball player as well. On top of all that he’s a solid student and comes from a great football program and great academic institution.

Monteverde Academy's Abdul Bello is a massive offensive tackle prospect high on the Gators radar for 2015.

Monteverde Academy’s Abdul Bello is a massive offensive tackle prospect high on the Gators radar for 2015.

Abdul Bello is a recruit who is new to football but has shown enough in his short time to garner a 4 star rating from most recruiting services. Bello who attends Monteverde Academy is from Nigeria and has only been in the U.S. less than a year playing only one season of high school football. Despite his short crash course in American football, he has one thing you can’t teach: size. At 6’6 300, Bello is massive with long arms and surprising athleticism. He’s a very strong individual who plays aggressively and works hard both on the field and in the classroom. 

Having only played one season of football, he is very raw and needs to improve on his pad level and understanding of the game but his natural gifts and work ethic give him a very high ceiling. He’s already visited Florida and Florida State and came away impressed with both programs and schools. He still reportedly plans to visit Miami, Clemson, and Tennessee the other programs he’s considering. He’s expected to make a decision sometime in the fall and the Gators have done well to build a solid relationship with Bello. He’s certainly one to keep an eye on moving forward.

Dexter William’s quarterback last season at Orlando, FL Olympia high school is Deondre Francois. Francois, 6’2 190, is also being heavily recruited by the Gators. A four star duel threat quarterback, Francois has a very strong arm and good wheels. He can fire a football on a rope and get the ball downfield, he just lacks precision on his throws and consistency.

Last season he passed for over 1300 yards and 19 touchdowns with 8 interceptions. He’s definitely a raw passer who will need some coaching up but his natural athleticism, speed, arm strength, and instincts have the Gator staff very high on him for the next cycle. 

With top target Torrance Gibson unlikely to pick the Gators, the staff is likely going to strongly pursue both Francois and Dwayne Lawson from Tampa and will most likely settle for one of the two.

As always stay tuned to Swamp Music for the latest FREE updates on Florida Gator recruiting and athletics.

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