The final contact period for college football recruiting in the 2015 cycle has begun. For the Florida Gators new coaching staff, it’s the beginning of a wild ride as they attempt to shore up a low rated recruiting class and finish fast with a number of top targets left on their board.
With as many as 28 scholarships available to fill and only eight current commitments, head coach Jim McElwain and his staff have their work cut out for themselves.
In our countdown to signing day series, Swamp Music has been previewing the remaining recruiting targets left on the Gators’ board by position. Previously, we previewed quarterback, running back, receiver, offensive line, defensive line, and linebacker. Today we look at the remaining targets at tight end.
The Gators, who have a long history of success at tight end, have struggled at the position since Jordan Reed left for the NFL draft after the 2012 season. The lack of identity on offense has left them short on an in-line tight end heading into 2015. They’re looking for a big bodied guy who can both block and catch passes.
While the Gators have one player already enrolled, Camrin Knight (6-4 225) from Tallahassee (FL) Lincoln, they’re still actively seeking another.
The main guy they’re after is Jared Pinkney (6-5 225) from Norcross (GA). He’s a three star player that most are recruiting as a wideout but the Gators are recruiting as a tight end. Coach McElwain extended an offer on Thursday morning only hours after the final contact period began.
According to a story by Chris Smith of 247sports,
“Pinkney said that Coach McElwain let him know today that he did have an official offer from the Gators and that they were excited about having him down for his official visit. He also said that Gators have him at the top of their board.”
Having played mostly wideout in high school, Pinkney possesses solid pass catching skills and decent speed with a great frame to add weight. Last season he caught 32 passes for 480 yards a very respectable 15 yards per catch. It’s his versatility though that has the coaches attention.
The offer moves Gators into his top four with Vanderbilt (OV 1/16), Missouri (OV 1/23), and UCF. He is scheduled to visit Gainesville on January 30 but reports are that he may skip Missouri and take his Florida official on the 23rd.
Another guy the Gators are after is G.G. Robinson (6-4 285) from Lilburn (GA) Parkview. He’s a defensive end who is committed to Louisville but the Gators liked him originally as a tight end. McElwain visited him Thursday morning, it was his first stop of the day, and according to Luke Stampini of 247sports Florida is now offering him to play on both sides of the ball.
“They told my dad to come, so it was me, my dad, coach Mac and coach Nord,” Robinson explained. “We met for about an hour, and basically talked football. Talked Florida and how I would fit in to their offense and defense, if not both. Basically, told me I can play wherever I want, because the offensive coaches and defensive coaches want me.”
With his size, he definitely fits the mold of an in-line tight end the staff appears to covet. That was initially what they recruited him to play.
“He (McElwain) wants me as an attached tight end,” Robinson said. “Like a pro-set attached tight end not split out wide used in the blocking game and play action pass and could still do other things like going out for routes.”
His versatility in being able to play defensive end or tackle as well as tight end makes him even more valuable as the staff seeks to rebuild depth while finding guys that fit within their schemes.
He visits January 30th so the Gators get the last shot. This could very well end up a Florida-Louisville battle in the end.
“I’m pretty solid to Louisville right now, but my official visit to Florida could change that,” Robinson said. “I just want to see how my official visit goes.”
In both cases, if they do make it to campus the staff has a decent chance to secure a commitment as both players appear to be very impressed with the Gator offer.