With national signing day less than two weeks away, the Florida Gators new coaching staff is in scramble mode as they seek to fill out their recruiting class which currently only has eight commitments.
Perhaps the biggest position of need this cycle is offensive line where the Gators lost All-SEC center Max Garcia and OT Trenton Brown to graduation as well as starting OT D.J. Humphries and starting OG Tyler Moore to NFL draft early entry. Currently, they have only eight scholarship lineman which is perilously low (typically coaches like to keep 13-15 on the roster.
With three lineman committed, center Tyler Jordan (6-4 280) from Jacksonville (FL), tackle Mike Horton (6-4 310) from Atlanta (GA), and guard Brandon Sandifer (6-4 335) from Warner Robins (GA), the Gators are still in need of as many as 4-5 more for depth purposes.
The Gators have long been the favorites to land the nation’s number two overall recruit according to 247sports, Tackle Martez Ivey (6-6 275) from Apopka (FL).
He’s been down to a final two of Florida, his childhood favorite, and Auburn, where close friend and high school teammate Chandler Cox is an early enrollee, for as long as anyone can remember.
Expected to announce at the Army All American Bowl, he backed off of that and has publicly been torn between the two schools. He took a final unofficial visit to Auburn last weekend, a huge weekend for them full of Gator targets, and is expected to visit Florida unofficially one last time this upcoming weekend before announcing his decision on signing day February 4th.
“I’ll probably be at Florida on an unofficial this weekend and after that I’ll see where my mind is at with both of these schools and think about it,” Ivey said in an interview with Chris Hays of the Orlando Sentinel.
And despite what he said recently about having an idea of where he’s going, that apparently is not the case.
“All the time (he second guesses himself on his decision). I’ll be one way one day and another way the next day,” Ivey said. “It’s back and forth. I’ve been doing that for a while.”
After Ivey, the Gator staff is trying to flip Brooksville (FL) tackle Christian Pellage (6-7 282) from his South Carolina commitment.
He visited Florida last weekend along with current line commits Jordan and Horton. By all accounts he had a great time and the visit gave him something to think about.
Both Jordan and Horton tweeted pics of the group trying to nudge Pellage to Gainesville.
While the former staff at Florida was unable to secure a commitment from him, the new staff has made an impression.
“That made me feel pretty good knowing that the new coach (McElwain) wanted to see me so soon (after he was hired),” he said in an article by Derek LaRiviere on Tampabay.com. “I got to talk to him, and I felt pretty good about him. He seems like a great guy. I think he’s going to do great things at Florida.”
Where does he stand in the recruiting process?
“After my visit to South Carolina, I am going to reevaluate everything and just make sure that what I’m doing is best,” Pellage said.
Unfortunately, for the Gators, South Carolina gets the last visit from him this weekend where coach Spurrier will try to shore up his commitment.
Another player high on the Gators board is Greenbelt (MD) offensive tackle Isaiah Prince (6-6 272).
There has been some confusion as to how involved the Gators are with Prince. Most consider this a three team race between the home state Maryland Terrapins, the Alabama Crimson Tide, and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Make no mistake, however, the Gators new staff is trying to get back into the picture with Prince.
At this point, coming off his weekend visit to Alabama, which he rated a 9.5 out of 10, the Crimson Tide are the favorites, followed by Maryland where he’ll visit on January 30th, and the Buckeyes, visiting on the 23rd, pulling up the rear.
The Gators are pressing to get a mid-week visit from him, likely next week. At this point, however, the Gators are way behind the eight ball and it would take a masterful sales job to lure him to Gainesville. It helps that they retained Mike Summers as he already has a longstanding relationship with him.
There are a few new offers which have gone out in the last week or so as the staff seeks to fill out what needs to be a large offensive line class.
One player the staff is looking at is recent Wisconsin decommit Sam Madden from Barnegat (NJ). Madden (6-7 345) is a four star offensive tackle that is getting a ton of attention since backing off his Wisconsin pledge.
Due to the rush of late offers, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding where he will visit these last two weekends.
He was scheduled to visit South Carolina this weekend but there have been reports that he may visit Georgia instead. Currently, he has nothing scheduled with Florida but there have been conflicting reports as to whether he might try to visit on January 30th.
Another player the staff recently offered is Ringling (OK) offensive tackle Riley Daniel (6-6 310).
Texas Tech and Baylor are the main two at the top for Daniel but he did seem highly impressed by the SEC offer.
“It’s pretty awesome (Florida offer),” he said in a 247sports article. “I never thought I would get one from them, but it’s pretty cool that it has. I watched them when [Tim] Tebow was there and I kept up a little bit, but I don’t know much about them.”
Hopefully he’ll have a little time to learn about them if he takes a visit on January 30th as he says he is.
Finally, the Gators recently offered Dunwoody (GA) offensive tackle Nick Buchanan (6-4 280), one of a number of offers he has received recently.
Buchanan is currently committed to Cal but many analysts don’t expect him to end up there. He has a weekend visit planned to Georgia but nothing scheduled for the 30th.
According to Luke Stampini of 247sports, offensive line coach Mike Summers made it clear they are in need of lineman and have early playing time to sell.
“He (Summers) just said they need me at Florida,” Buchanan said. “They have a need on the offensive line. They have some great people and I would have a really good time.”
It helps the Gators that he is friends with two of Florida’s offensive line commits Mike Horton and Brandon Sandifer both also from Georgia.
If he visits, the Gators may very well have a solid shot here, but of course, if he doesn’t visit, he won’t be in this class.
Stay tuned to Swamp Music for the latest in Florida Gator recruiting news and analysis as we countdown to signing day.