As signing day 2015 approaches, the Florida Gators staff is working around the clock to try to fill in a recruiting class which currently is sitting on a mere 10 commitments barely a week before signing day.
The Gators picked up two commitments on Monday one for 2015 and the other for 2016.
Marietta (GA) Sprayberry defensive end Jabari Zuniga flipped his commitment from N.C. State to Florida Monday evening. The 6-3 255 Zuniga is a strong, athletic end who the Gators think will become an elite pass rusher. He has advanced skills and technique for a high school senior and once they get him in the weight room he’ll be ready to show SEC talent.
The Gators picked up their third commitment for 2016 when Jacksonville (FL) Raines wide receiver Rick Wells pulled the trigger only a couple hours after receiving his Florida offer.
Wells (6-1 185) was a standout performer as a junior at last July’s Friday Night Lights camp event put on by the Gators.
Admittedly, he grew up a Gator fan and called the opportunity “a dream come true”.
The athletic Wells has great speed and solid hands. Coach Mac and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will utilize him on the outside to stretch the field. He has skills the Gators haven’t had at wideout in several years.
One prospect expected to announce, perhaps to the Gators, last night was Guntersville (AL) DT/OT Steven Clark. The Syracuse commit took an official visit to Florida this past weekend after receiving an offer last Tuesday.
He was expected to announce sometime Monday evening after an in-home visit by Ole Miss but changed his mind.
No word on when he now plans to announce his decision. The longer it goes, however, the more likely he sticks with the original choice of Syracuse.
It’s no secret coach Mac is looking for a quarterback in this class but as of yet has none committed.
Immediately after taking over he identified four star Florida State commit Deondre Francois as the guy he’d like to bring in.
Coach Mac and coach Nuss worked their magic securing an official visit last weekend against the wishes of Florida State staff.
By all accounts he had a great visit but was very tight lipped. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher immediately made his in-home visit on Tuesday to shore up Francois’ commitment.
FSU sources now report that they’re confident he won’t flip to the Gators.
Tuesday morning the Orlando Sentinel reported Francois told them he’s sticking with FSU.
“The Florida visit was good, it was great. It’s a great environment with a great coach, but I’m staying with Florida State,” Francois said. “My heart is with Florida State. I like Florida, it’s a great school, but I feel I can be more successful with Florida State, under Jimbo [Fisher].”
The next guy up for the Gators is Louisville commit Lamar Jackson from Boynton Beach (FL). Jackson (6-3 185) is a strong armed dual threat qb whom coach Mac is equally high on.
Francois may be a little more ready to compete coming in than Jackson but the staff would still very much like to flip him if they can’t get Francois.
Jackson is scheduled to visit the Gators this weekend despite maintaining he’s committed to Louisville. He visited Mississippi State last weekend but reports are that he’ll be a tough flip.
With only two viable starting qb candidates returning neither of whom showed much last season, the Gators will be hurting if they can’t grab either of the two targets this cycle.
Five star defensive end CeCe Jefferson from Glen St. Mary (FL) Baker reportedly will visit Florida unofficially for the umpteenth time on Tuesday. As he resides only an hour away and the Gators are his childhood favorite, he’s been to UF more than some current players.
He had an in-home visit with Gator staff on Monday which included McElwain, defensive coordinator Geoff Collins, and defensive line coach Terrell Willians.
He says he will drop in on the Florida campus for a brief visit on Tuesday.
With CeCe coming off visits to Auburn, with old pal Will Muschamp, and Ole Miss, his admitted leader, it will be good for the new staff to have time to bond with him as much as possible before signing day next Wednesday February 5th.
Jefferson is scheduled to take his last official visit to LSU this weekend. While the Tigers were not considered strong players previously watch out for new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron. Jefferson had good things to say after LSU hired him and the man has a great track record of recruiting success and coaching success on the defensive line.
The Florida Gators are continuing to searching deep and wide for defensive lineman, in case they lose out on the CeCe/Cowart sweepstakes, which by the way is looking more apparent by the day. On Monday, they offered Sebring (FL) defensive end Luke Ancrum.
Ancrum is unrated by the major recruiting services and boast an offer list of FIU, UMass, UCONN, and Appalachian State. Not exactly the type defensive players Gator fans are used to seeing the Gators recruit.
Apparently, the staff sees something others may not. Regardless, with other late targets committing elsewhere, the staff is scrambling to find suitable replacements.
Ancrum (6-5 240) could be a diamond-in-the-rough type with great long term potential due to his size and athleticism. A long time basketball player, he’s the team’s starting center, Luke is new to football but defensive line coach Terrell Williams thinks he has the frame to put on 30 pounds without losing his agility and thinks he’s a safe bet with a huge upside.
With the offer, Ancrum cancelled a scheduled weekend visit to Pitt to instead visit the Gators.
Antonio Callaway the speedy playmaker from Booker T. Washington in Miami reportedly had eliminated Florida a week or so ago because he hadn’t heard much from the new staff.
“I barely hear from them,” Callaway said in a Miami Herald article. “From the new staff, I haven’t even heard from them at all. Coach [Jim] McElwain will send me a picture of their old players. That’s the most I hear from them. I write them back and won’t get a response.”
That seemed odd because Callaway had named the Gators his favorite last summer and the new staff is looking for playmaking wide receivers.
Shortly after the article was posted, Calllaway took to Twitter to deny that the Gators were out.
Through all the confusion there was some doubt he would take a scheduled visit to Florida this weekend. It appears he will indeed take the trip to Florida per Luke Stampini of 247sports.
It’s important to get that final visit after he visited hometown Miami on the 17th and West Virginia last week. Hopefully the weather will be nice and contrast the snowy conditions he faced in Morgantown.
Regardless, getting the last visit is huge for the Gators. They’ll need to sell him on their vision for success, how they plan to utilize him in that process, and that Florida is still Florida.
He grew up a Gator fan and his favorite player was Percy Harvin so they just need to sell him on becoming a part of that Gator legacy like Harvin.
Another Gator target who visited West Virginia last weekend was Miami (FL) Coral Gables wideout Shaquery Wilson, a Georgia commit.
Wilson was expected to visit the Gators this weekend but that trip appears to be cancelled presently.
With Derrick Dillon’s commitment shaky at best it’s important for the Gators to continue to recruit the position.
One visit that appears to be on despite rumors to the contrary is Washington (D.C.) Friendship Academy OT Quarvez Boulware. With the Gators returning only eight scholarship offensive lineman, they are in need of quantity as well as quality this cycle.
The four star Boulware fits the bill perfectly. Rumored to be a Maryland lean, the Gators have the last shot to sway him but have an uphill battle to do so with distance likely playing a large factor here.
Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Swamp Rumors as we count down to signing day.