With the first of three final recruiting weekends behind us, it’s time to let the smoke clear and assess the damage.
The Florida Gators new coaching staff is way behind the eight ball having to try to recruit on the fly with little time to build more than a casual relationship with recruits.
To make matters worse, all of the top recruits on the Gators board have longstanding relationships with Florida’s old coach Will Muschamp who is now recruiting for Auburn as their new defensive coordinator.
To top it all off, six of the Gators top targets, OT Martez Ivey, SDE Byron Cowart, SDE CeCe Jefferson, OLB Jeffrey Holland, ATH Ryan Davis, and CB Javarius Davis, all visited Auburn this past weekend. That’s enough to give Gator Nation ulcers.
The good news for Gator fans who follow recruiting is that none of the six committed to Auburn over the weekend. But as far as good news, that was about it.
Perhaps the player most impressed by his visit was Javarius Davis (5-10 175). The three star corner from Jacksonville (FL) Ed White was very vocal about Auburn taking the lead after his visit.
“Yes they are (Auburn number one),” Davis was quoted in an article by Keith Niebuhr of 247sports. “Me and Coach T-Rob’s relationship is great — going to be hard to beat that.”
His exuberance over the Auburn visit led 247sports and Fightin’ Gators recruiting analyst Luke Stampini to make Auburn his crystal ball pick for Javarius.
The Gators staff has an uphill battle if they hope to secure Davis’ commitment. Will Muschamp and Travaris Robinson being on staff at Auburn may be too much to overcome for him and most or all of the six.
But, sadly, Gator fans might want to brace themselves as it’s quite possible any number of those six or even all six could end up signing with Auburn on national signing day.
Receiver Ryan Davis (5-9.5 167) from St. Petersburg (FL) Lakewood, the top uncommitted receiver prospect on the Gators board, also came away impressed from his Auburn visit.
“They’re (Auburn) very much in the picture,” Davis said to Keith Niebuhr after his official visit to Auburn. “They’re right up there. With this visit, they showed me a lot of stuff that I didn’t know about Auburn. I’ve seen nothing but opportunity to come here and play right away.”
That’s a bitter pill to swallow for Gator fans who are yearning to see offensive playmakers finally return to Gainesville.
Davis, a consensus four star prospect, has long been at the top of the Gators board and many analysts have predicted him to sign with Florida, his 247sports crystal ball picks are solidly in UF’s favor at 56% but the Gators stock has been falling of late.
He has an official to Alabama this upcoming weekend and the final weekend he’s still undecided as to his destination. He says the final visit will be one of Florida, Michigan, or Oregon.
He has visited Florida unofficially in the past, so he may not feel the need to take an official there and despite his expressed interest, he’s not likely to sign with either Michigan or Oregon.
This is likely a Florida/Auburn/Alabama battle in the end and he says he will decide on signing day. Going against the grain of normal recruiting thought processes, do not put too much stock into whether or not he officially visits Florida. I believe if the staff does an adequate job selling their vision, he will sign with the Gators on signing day.
The top name on the Gators board overall is the top recruit overall nationally according to 247sports, OT Martez Ivey (6-6 275) from Apopka (FL). The athletic offensive tackle took an unofficial visit this past weekend to Auburn primarily to hang out with close friend and high school teammate Chandler Cox, an Auburn early entry recruit.
Considering he’s been down to only two schools, Auburn and Florida, for what seems like an eternity, Gator Nation let out a collective groan when he tweeted he was on his way on the same weekend that all the other top Gator recruits were visiting.
The good news?
He didn’t commit and appears to be as torn between the two as he has been for the last year. He’s planning on visiting Florida one more time before signing day and then make up his mind according to Justin Hokanson of 247sports.
“I’ll make up my mind after that (Florida unofficial visit),” Ivey told AuburnUndercover. “Being comfortable, reaching my goals, that’s what it will come down to.”
In his own words, the weekend was less about recruiting and more about hanging out with a close friend.
“It was great to hang out,” Ivey said. “I just hung out, instead of the whole recruiting process. We talked and he loves it at Auburn, it feels like home.”
Ivey, admittedly, grew up a Gator fan and despite the pull of a close friend, I think he still has to be considered the most likely of the group to sign with the Gators on February 4th.
While the news for Ivey looks promising to Gator fans, the same cannot necessarily be said about the other three recruits: Cowart (#3 overall according to 247sports), Jefferson (#7 overall), and four star Holland. They all tweeted pro-Auburn tweets during and after the recruiting visit.
And there’s this pic of Cowart, CeCe, and Holland with newly hired assistant Lance Thompson.
And then there’s this:
The three have been vocally adamant about playing together in college, once the thought was they’d do it at Florida, now it appears that may happen at Auburn.
Cowart, for one, appears very impressed by Auburn.
“It was great, he said. “We had fun, it felt like family. It was the first time I was able to go on a visit and just relax. I asked myself tough questions, but I felt at home. My mom liked it. Me, CeCe, Jeff, we all liked it.”
He added, “We (He, CeCe, and Holland) will all play at the same school because we know we can make an impact,” Cowart told AuburnUndercover. “I don’t think people understand, you can be a great player, but you can’t make an impact by yourself. You have to have a team, some guys that will go with you to change the program around.”
And Holland got in on the act as well on Twitter.
Of course, he could just be supporting his buddy or he could be showing solidarity with a future teammate, the player he tweeted at was Tim Irvin who flipped his commitment from Texas to Auburn over the weekend.
Finally, Javarius Davis had some fun on Twitter ripping apart the hearts of Gator Nation.
Now before you go jumping off bridges, keep in mind, these guys have all been considered Gator leans for quite some time. Sure a lot has to do with the relationship they all had with Muschamp and TRob, but most probably grew up Gator fans as well.
So they very well could be simply trolling fans from either or both schools, as often happens with top level recruits basking in the attention they get from fans on social media.
But which fan base are they really trolling?
Are they all hinting at an epic signing day close by Auburn?
If so, it would be the first time for Muschamp.
Or are they simply creating some signing day tension and drama for their announcements?
Gator Nation is certainly hoping for the latter.
Suffice it to say, however, the Gators are trending away from a big signing day close. At least, for the top guys on their recruiting board.