With two recruiting weekends remaining before national signing day on February 4th, the Florida Gators new staff is working tirelessly to fill out what is right now a minuscule class with only eight commitments.
This weekend, while not the the biggest in terms of number recruits visiting, quite possibly could be the Gators most important with quality recruits across the board.
Many of the Gators top targets will be visiting this weekend.
The #2 overall recruit according to 247sports, Martez Ivey, will be back on an unofficial visit after taking a final unofficial to Auburn last weekend. It’s a two team race for Ivey between Florida and Auburn and most have considered him a lock to sign with the Gators, his childhood favorite.
He does, however, appear to be torn between the two schools, at least publicly. Florida has the draw of being his dream school, Auburn has coach Muschamp, who he’s known for a long time, unlike the Gators staff, and his close friend Chandler Cox, an Auburn early enrollee.
He rarely mentions football when interviewed and always mentions choosing the place where he feels most comfortable.
“The main factor is being comfortable,” Ivey said in an interview with Andrew Spivey of Gatorcountry. “Anywhere I go, I’m going to play great football and have the opportunity to get a great education, so it’s just about being comfortable.”
Hopefully the Gators new staff can give him that comfort level he’s looking for.
It’s no secret that head coach Jim McElwain is looking for a quarterback in this recruiting class. They’re not just looking for a clipboard holder, they’re looking for a guy that can come in and compete for the starting job right away. Deondre Francois from IMG Academy in Bradenton, an FSU commit, fits that bill.
He has good size and a strong arm and was one of the top performers during Under Armour All American week.
Almost immediately upon taking the Florida job, coach McElwain made contact with Deondre and let him know he was the top guy on their board and they would be recruiting him hard up until signing day.
With two other qb’s committed to the Seminoles, the Gators have a good shot at flipping Francois, quite possibly this weekend if all goes right for the Gators.
On defense, the top recruit on the Gators board is ESPN #1 overall recruit Byron Cowart from Seffner (FL).
Cowart dominated the Under Armour All American week en route to Team Highlight MVP during the game.
He’s long been a Florida lean but he’s been trending away from Florida since the dismissal of the previous staff particularly defensive line coach Brad Lawing.
“[Will] Muschamp, [Nick] Saban and Coach Tosh [Lopoi] have been recruiting me for years,” Cowart said in a Gatorcountry article by Andrrw Spivey. “And I have a good relationship with those guys and Florida fired the guy I like, Coach Lawing, so yeah.”
With Cowart coming off last weekend’s big visit to Auburn with six of the Gators top prospects, the new staff will face an uphill battle in getting his signature. Getting him on campus this weekend to bond and sell him on their vision for success is paramount for Coach Mac and company.
While the Gators need to get him on campus this weekend, there’s speculation he’ll trip to Auburn again next weekend with those other recruits from last weekend.
If those five do indeed visit AU again next weekend that doesn’t bode well for the Gators’ prospects of landing any of them.
The Gators are looking to take at least two running backs this cycle and at the top is Jordan Scarlett from St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale (FL).
A former Miami commit, Scarlett is a big, strong one cut back with speed. With coach Mac and coach Nussmeier’s history of coaching successful backs particularly at Alabama, they have a good chance to snag a commitment from Scarlett this weekend.
He seemed impressed when McElwain spoke with him shortly after taking the Florida job.
“He’s a great guy,” Scarlett said of McElwain according to Luke Stampini of 247sports. “He’s a people person and he just wanted to tell me there is a place for me at Florida.”
This weekend the staff will get the opportunity to show him exactly where his place is and how they’ll use him at Florida. While speculation has it that he’s been leaning back towards the Canes, getting him on campus this weekend will be huge for the Gators.
Another running back at the top of the board for the Gators is Miami (FL) Westminster Christian RB Jordan Conkrite. If Scarlett is 1-A for the Gators, Cronkite is 1-B.
The good news for the Gators is that Cronkite has been waiting on a Gator offer. The old staff was never high on him. Coach Mac is however.
“Coach McElwain is definitely making me feel like more of a priority because the last staff didn’t really talk to me much but Coach McElwain reached out to me right when he got the job,” Cronkrite said in an interview with Andrew Spivey of Gatorcountry.com. “It made me feel good about them but I just need to get them around my parents.”
There’s a high probability that Cronkite commits this weekend. There’s a lot of speculation, particularly from Miami sites, that the Gators could be the favorites to land both Scarlett and Cronkite.
With the Gators offensive struggles the last several years, it’s important for coach Mac to bring in some playmakers particularly at the receiver spot. One of the Gators top targets is Ryan Davis from St. Petersburg (FL) Lakewood.
Davis is a smallish, speedy receiver who is a playmaker in space. He’s another who has long been at the top of the Gators board and it’s important for this staff to nail down his commitment.
He visited Auburn last weekend and this weekend was supposed to visit Alabama, thought by many to be Florida’s main competitor for his services.
Getting him to visit UF instead is huge for the Gators and could be a sign of good things to come. He’s another who will be on commitment watch this weekend.
Finally, perhaps the Gators biggest need this cycle is along the offensive line where they return only eight scholarship lineman. One of the top prospects on the Gators board is Tyree St. Louis, who, like Deondre Francois, hails from IMG Academy in Bradenton (FL).
While Miami is considered the favorite to sign St. Louis, the Gators have early playing time to sell and the excitement that a new staff brings.
With the staff looking to sign 6-7 along the line, expect them to pull out all the stops this weekend to try to get him to commit.
Considering the Gators are currently sitting on only eight commitments, what the new staff really needs right now is public commitments and the momentum it provides, particularly from some higher rated guys.
This weekend will be all about trying to nail down some of those commitments to generate positive publicity and hopefully create a domino effect heading into the final week before signing day.