Randy Shannon Paying Immediate Dividends For The Florida Gators, Picks Up Two Commitments

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When new head coach Jim McElwain took over the reins of the Florida Gators football program he stressed the point of regaining a recruiting presence in the talent laden areas of Florida, Miami in particular.

To that end, his first position coach hire was Randy Shannon. The former Miami Hurricanes head coach has spent almost his entire career in Miami, first as a star linebacker on a national championship squad, then as an assistant, as defensive coordinator, and finally as head coach.

While his time as head coach was largely forgettable in the win/loss column, his ties to the high school programs in and around Miami are deep and are already paying dividends for the Gators.

After picking up linebacker Rayshad Jackson from Miami (FL) Norland in the last recruiting cycle, Shannon and the Gators picked up two more commitments from Miami on Tuesday when 2016 linebacker Vosean Joseph, also from Norland, and 2016 DE Eric Mitchell from Miami Central both pledged to the Gators.

Joseph (6-1 210), like Jackson, is an undersized but athletic linebacker whose strength is his speed and versatility.

Projected as an outside linebacker he could bulk up and play inside as well and could even play as a defensive back in nickel and dime situations.

Here’s what Larry Blustein of South Florida High School Sports had to say about Joseph:

“Here is one of those talented athletes who has the chance to be very special because he plays the game fast, strong and at a high level. While he will be a very good offensive player, his instincts on defense certainly will showcase his football skill level. Has very good speed and is not easy to bring down.”

Mitchell (6-3 225) is another undersized but very athletic player. A good pass rusher with a quick first step, he’s still a little under the radar but called Florida his “dream school” in an interview with 247sports recruiting analyst Ryan Bartow.

Last season he had 70 tackles, 18 sacks, and an interception. He’s projected as a weak side defensive end at Florida.

Blustein:

“After watching him play last year – in a number of games when he was at Miami Jackson – this is indeed a rising junior who has the chance to be very special. While he can play on the offensive side of the ball as a tight end, what he does on defense is going to turn heads in a major way. Mitchell is a tremendous football prospect that will make an impression in the off season and throughout the spring. He is a cat-quick pass rusher who will get after just about anyone.”

http://www.hudl.com/athlete/2704700/highlights/186402375/v2

So it hasn’t taken long for Shannon and the Gators to make their presence known not only in south Florida in general but in some of the richest high school programs as well.

Luther Campbell, the brash and always outspoken former lead man for the hip hop group 2 Live Crew and now defensive coordinator at Norland, has been talking a lot about Florida’s new recruiting presence in Miami.

A few days ago he tweeted this about Joseph:

And then this about Mitchell after the Gators offered him:

And then finally this:

So fellow Norland alum Shannon has been busy working his old Miami pipelines and the other state schools have been put on notice that the Gators are back with a strong in-state recruiting presence.

It’s Official: CeCe’s A Gator!

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The end of the CeCe Jefferson recruiting saga has arrived.

See whole story here.

Jefferson, the #2 ranked defensive end in the nation, committed to Florida last Wednesday, national signing day, on live tv in a ceremony with friends and family.

Problem is he did not fax in the letter of intent (LOI) despite signing it in public.

This led to much speculation and anxiety on the part of Gator fans.

Originally he said he hadn’t faxed it on Wednesday because there were no fax machines at his signing day party. He maintained at the time that he would fax it in on Thursday.

When it didn’t arrive on Thursday morning, school message boards and social media, Twitter in particular, lit up with speculation and accusations about his intent.

Adding to the confusion was an SI report that new defensive line coach Terrell Williams was leaving to take a job with the Miami Dolphins and would be replaced by Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph. See story here

This led to speculation that CeCe might be having second thoughts about Florida and whether or not he was misled by Florida in regards to the coaching change.

ESPN national recruiting analyst put in his two cents claiming that CeCe and his family were well aware the change was in the works.

And this

And this

And finally this

The last was on response to this tweet from CeCe:

His father, Leo Jefferson, got in on the situation with a message to Zach Alboverdi which he revealed via Twitter.

Leo himself later tried to clear up the confusion with this tweet.

CeCe then offered insight as well.

And

And finally

Rumph did indeed take over for the departed Williams and eventually CeCe’s dad had a conversation with new Gators defensive coordinator Geoff Collins which appeared to assuage the anxiety on his part.

So after days of confusion, anxiety, and speculation, CeCe has at last faxed in his LOI and is now a Gator.

A guy that I described before signing day as one who “loves the (recruiting) game” made sure he played it out as long as he could and got maximum airtime as a result.

Gator Chomp: Whole Lotta “Rumph” Shaking Going On, Florida Gators Hire Chris Rumph

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It’s official.

One day after an SI story reporting that Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph would be replacing the departing Terrell Williams as the Florida Gators defensive line coach, the school made it official.

Rumph, who was reportedly considered originally for the position, comes to Florida from Texas where he was defensive line coach and assistant head coach last season.

“Chris and I obviously have some experience working together from our days at Alabama,” Florida head coach Jim McElwain said. “He joins a group of like thinkers on our staff and is someone who will positively affect our players’ lives – both on and off the field.”

At Texas, his unit finished 11th nationally in sacks and he coached All-American Malcolm Brown who was a finalist for both the Nagurski Award and the Outland Trophy this past season.

Prior to Texas, Rumph spent three seasons as the defensive line coach at Alabama during a couple of their championship runs. All three of his units were top ten nationally including top rankings in 2011, where they set a modern era record giving up only 183 yards per game, and in 2012 where opponents averaged only 250 yards per game overall.

At Clemson from 2006-2010 he coached All American Daquan Bowers and all five of his units finished top 25 nationally in both scoring and total defense.

He’s considered one of the top position coaches in the nation and is a fantastic recruiter.

Most analysts consider this hire to be an upgrade overall and he’ll have some good young talent to work with as he takes over.

And on a good note for anxious Gator fans, five star defensive end CeCe Jefferson has reportedly met Rumph previously as a recruiter for Alabama.

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Gator Chomps and the latest in Florida Gator athletics news and analysis.

Swamp Rumors: Controversy In Gainesville, CeCe Jefferson’s Unfaxed LOI, Williams Replaced By Rumph?

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The Florida Gators closed strong in recruiting reeling in a couple five star and several four star recruits on national signing day.

However, one five star, DE CeCe Jefferson, who committed to the Gators on live tv yesterday, has not faxed in his Letter Of Intent (LOI) as of Thursday morning.

This has led to much anxiety for Gator fans worrying they might lose their top defensive recruit before he ever gets started at Florida.

Adding to the confusion and wild speculation is a report from SI that defensive line coach Terrell Williams who was hired only one month ago has decided to return to the NFL taking a position on the Miami Dolphins staff.

Texas defensive line coach Chris Rumph, reportedly a candidate for the job originally, apparently has taken Williams place on the Gator staff.

This has led to speculation that perhaps something underhanded has taken place between CeCe’s camp, who are acting as if they were unaware the personnel change was in the works, and the Florida Gators coaching staff.

To set the scene, the hold up on the faxing of the LOI is that CeCe’s dad Leo won’t sign it.

This is where the confusion comes in. Exactly why won’t he sign it?

As a result, a Twitter battle of sorts has ensued.

CeCe’s dad appears to link his refusal to sign the LOI with the departure of Williams.

CeCe, for his part, appears to act as if he was unaware the change was coming.

However, ESPN recruiting analyst Derek Tyson claims that CeCe and his family knew well in advance that Williams was leaving.

Adding…

And…

And finally…

In an Alligator Army story by Andy Hutchins CeCe’s dad was quoted saying he doesn’t want his son at Florida.

“I’m a die-hard Gator fan, but personally, I want CeCe to go somewhere else,” Jefferson said. “I wanted to get him away from home. I didn’t want him in Gainesville, to tell you the truth.”

To make the situation even more confusing Rivals national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell refutes reports that the dad is the hold up to the faxing of the LOI.

What’s the real story?

The old saying goes “there’s two sides to every story and the truth is found somewhere in between.

As an aside, Tampa Bay Times reporter Antonya English had a little fun with the Terrell Williams situation.

So now Williams is gone and Rumph is headed to Gainesville?

If so, it’s a good get for the Gators as Rumph, who coached All American defensive end Daquan Bowers at Clemson and was on the Alabama staff under Saban along with coach McElwain, is not only a great position coach but a fantastic recruiter as well.

However, Rumph to Florida is not a done deal just yet either according to Ryan Bartow of 247sports.

“We’ve learned that in the last 30 minutes, Rumph met face-to-face with Texas head coach Charlie Strong.

Our source indicated, it’s a ‘possibility’ Rumph may stay at Texas after this meeting or opt for Florida. It’s something he’s yet to discuss with his family, according to a contact familiar with the situation.

Rumph is slated to meet with his family to talk about the new option this afternoon.”

But where does this leave CeCe?

Twisting in the wind at this point.

However, anxious Gator fans can likely relax as these types of things happen every year and in almost every case the kid ends up at the school to which he committed.

*******************************

Now Mike Farrell published a story with quotes by the father alleging missteps by the Gators coaching staff that give him cause for concern.

CeCe’s father claims that he is not the reason for the hold up but rather CeCe is.

“Five-star defensive end CeCe Jefferson has yet to sign his letter of intent for Florida and his father, Leo Jefferson, explained why on Thursday.” According to Farrell.

“Leo said CeCe himself is not ready to sign it.

‘He told me that yesterday after his announcement,’ Leo said, adding he would have been glad to sign and fax the letter to Florida if that’s what his son wanted.”

The problem? They were left unaware of the coaching change.

“The Florida staff never told us he (Terrell Williams) was leaving,” Leo said in the Farrell story. “We don’t know (Rumph) at all.”

He then goes on to explain that they won’t hold up CeCe regardless of what he decides.

“Regardless, ‘if CeCe wants to go to Florida, we are on board,’ Leo said.”

Then he lists a series of grievances against the UF staff which includes keeping the coaching change secret as well as cutting the in-home visit extremely short, not calling after not receiving his LOI, and not continuing to recruit him as hard.

“The staff should have considered being honest with us about the (coach) change,” Leo said. “They haven’t pursued CeCe nearly as hard as others and I’m not sure why.”

The story gets more bizarre by the second.

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** updated 3:30 central 2/5**

Now the dad Leo has tweeted this:

What exactly they’re holding out for is not clear.

So round, and round, and round we go, where this drama stops, nobody knows.

Grab the popcorn.

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** updated 6:09 pm central 2/5**

From CeCe:

And…

And finally…

So it’s plausible that he may want to wait and be assured of who will be his position coach. That’s perfectly understandable.

What is unclear is why they simply couldn’t have made that point clear from the get go. The outlandish statements and accusations, the back and forth about who’s responsible for the hold up, and the different messages sent to different media folks takes this story from strange to bizzare.

There’s only one question left…

Can I get a refill on the popcorn and the coke?

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**updated 9:47 pm central**

And now a couple more tweets from Leo Jefferson.

A sentiment with which most would concur. It’s sad to see some of the accusations bandied about and the things people will tweet to people they’ve never met. It’s shameful and not at all helping the situation.

So it appears they’ve circled the wagons and are sticking with the change in coaching staff angle.

It will be interesting to see his the defensive line coach situation evolves. Hopefully a replacement will be named quickly.

********************************

**Final update 2 pm central 2/6**

The Florida Gators did indeed hire Chris Rumph to replace the departed Terrell Williams, announcing it this morning. Story

The hire appears to be good both because he’s a great coach and fantastic recruiter and because he already has a relationship with CeCe as he recruited him while at Alabama.

Here’s what CeCe had to say to Gainesville Sun sports reporter Zach Abolverdi.

However, his dad still doesn’t appear impressed and denies knowing anything about Rumph in Abolverdi’s latest story.

“I don’t know him. We’ve never met,” Jefferson said. “CeCe’s not going to be spending time with the head coach or the defensive coordinator. He’s going to be with that D-line coach the majority of the time.”

But, regardless, Leo appears to be ready to acquiesce if CeCe is still intent on Florida.

“Whenever he feels comfortable with him and he’s ready to send (his LOI) in, that’s fine.”

So it appears all is good with CeCe and Florida.

Now about that LOI…

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**Final, final update**

Now it appears CeCe will prolong the process even further.

We thought CeCe loved the recruiting game, but he has taken this to new levels. He loves it so much he’s not ready to be done with it apparently.

Can I get a refill on my popcorn?

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** update Sunday 2/7 1:45 **

A couple of CeCe retweets on Sunday make him look like a guy who is planning on signing with Florida.

Matt Rolin is a future defensive teammate of CeCe’s assuming he dies indeed sign with the Gators. No need to retweet that if he’s planning on looking elsewhere right?

Similarly, no need to retweet a commitment story if his plan is to look elsewhere. Right????

Hmmmmm…

**update 4 pm central**

CeCe is attending tonight’s Florida-Kentucky basketball game with Gator signees Tyler Jordan and Daniel Imatorbhebhe.

Reports are that he will meet with head coach Jim McElwain while in campus. It’s not clear exactly what is to take place during the meeting, but no LOI is expected at this time.

Still a highly fluid situation and still looks good for the Gators to eventually get CeCe’s signature.

**update 6:30 central**

CeCe tweeted some new info thus evening.

So I guess coach Collins, the Gators defensive coordinator had a conversation with Leo and smoothed things over. It appears all parties are now on the same page and CeCe will be sending in that LOI.

Still no ETA on it but best guess will be no earlier than Monday.

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**9:30 pm central**

Does this look like a guy Gator Nation needs to be worrying about losing?

I think not!

About that popcorn…

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**update 10 am central**

Finally closure?

And here’s a pic of him signing the LOI.

So I guess we’re just waiting on it to be official in Florida’s end at this point.

Man this popcorn is stale.

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**final update 10:50 central**

CeCe’s LOI is finally in and he is officially a Gator.

So there you go.

Welcome to Gator Nation CeCe Jefferson!

Stay tuned to Swamp Music for more Swamp Rumors and the latest on Florida Gator recruiting and all it’s post-signing day madness.

Florida Gators 2015 Recruiting Class: Signed LOI’s (Updates In Real Time)

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2015 Signed LOI’s as they come in.

Tyler Jordan, OC (6-4 280) Jacksonville (FL) Bishop Kenny

Andrew Ivie, DT (6-1 265) Dade City Pasco

Jordan Scarlett, RB (5-11 222) Ft. Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas

Richerd Desir-Jones DT (6-4 285) Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas

Luke Ancrum DE (6-5 230) Sebring (FL)

Jabari Zuniga DE (6-3 255) Marietta (GA) Sprayberry

Antonio Callaway WR (5-11 185) Miami (FL) Booker T. Washington

Chris Williamson ATH (6-1 190) Gainesville (GA)

Kylan Johnson DQB/S (6-2 202) Dallas (TX) Skyline

Brandon Sandifer OG (6-4 330) Warner Robins (GA)

Rayshad Jackson OLB (6-2 215) Miami (FL) Norland

Martez Ivey OT (6-6 285) Apopka (FL)

Camrin Knight TE (6-4 220) Tallahassee (FL) Lincoln

Frederick Johnson OT (6-6 300) West Palm Beach (FL) Royal Palm Beach

Keivonnis Davis DE (6-4 255) Miami (FL) Central

Nick Buchanan OT (6-4 285) Dunwoody (GA) Dunwoody

Jordan Cronkite RB (5-11) Miami (FL) Central

D’Anfernee McGriff ATH (6-1 225) Tallahassee (FL)

Swamp Music’s Annual Signing Day Eve Mock Class For 2015

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Alright Gator fans, the Eve of National Signing Day 2015 is upon us. Less than 24 hours remain before high school seniors can officially put the pen to paper and ink the letter of intent to the team… Er, that is, school of their choice.

For the Florida Gators new coaching staff it’s been a long arduous struggle simply trying to put together a class that meets needs without reaching on prospects and handcuffing future recruiting classes.

For Gator fans who follow recruiting it’s been an even longer and extremely frustrating ride. What began 12 months ago shortly after the sun set on signing day 2014 as a very promising recruiting class with boatloads of five star talent strongly considering the Gators began to fall apart before it ever got started.

With most top prospects waiting to see how the Gators would fare during the 2014 season and thus the fate of the previous staff who were squarely in the hot seat after the disastrous 4-8 campaign of 2013, the potential top ranked recruiting class was on hold.

Slowly, but surely, the top recruits started committing elsewhere or considering other schools. One by one, big names started falling by the wayside.

What was left was an eight member class with only one four star recruit, wide receiver Derrick Dillon at the start of the dead period on December 15th.

Fast forward to signing day Eve and the class size has doubled to 16 with two four star recruits with the addition of running back Jordan Scarlett, although Dillon’s pledge is in doubt.

Perhaps more importantly the Gators still have some top targets left in the board and most appear to be trending upwards towards the Gators.

Regardless of what happens, Jim McElwain and company have done a phenomenal job not just finding solid sleeper recruits to fill in the class depth-wise but also to build momentum leading into signing day.

Now, on the eve of signing day, Swamp Music presents their predictions and prognostications for the Gators 2015 signing class.

The Gators have room for 27 signees this cycle according to the math done by Thomas Goldkamp of florida247sports.

A week ago, I felt the Gators would only sign 20-22 recruits this year but after getting the ball rolling strong and 16 commits in the fold, it’s possible they sign in the 25-27 range.

Let’s begin with the commits already in the fold that I believe stick (hint: all but Derrick Dillon).

Early Enrollees

* Daniel Imatorbhebhe (TE) Suwanee (GA)

* Khalif Jackson (WR) Neptune Beach (FL)

Commits

* Jordan Scarlett (RB 5-11 222) Ft. Lauderdale (FL)

* Chris Williamson (DB 6-1 190) Gainesville (GA)

* Kylan Johnson (Ath 6-3 203) Dallas (TX)

* Luke Ancrum (DE 6-5 230) Sebring (FL)

* Frederick Johnson (OT 6-7 300) West Palm Beach (FL)

* Richerd Desir-Jones (OG 6-4 285) Ft.Lauderdale (FL)

* Jabari Zuniga (DE 6-3 255) Marietta (GA)

* Rayshad Jackson (OLB 6-2 215) Miami (FL)

* Andrew Ivie (DT 6-1 265) Dade City (FL)

* Camrin Knight (TE 6-4 2225) Tallahassee (FL)

* Mike Horton (OT 6-4 310) Atlanta (GA)

* Brandon Sandifer (OG 6-4 335) Warner Robins (GA)

* Tyler Jordan (OC 6-4 280) Jacksonville (FL)

15 solid commits and one soft (Derrick Dillon) for 16 total. I expect all 15 to sign with the Gators.

Now let’s look at the guys on the board who are still looking at the Gators.

1) Martez Ivey (6-6 275 OT) Apopka (FL)

Grew up a Gator fan, don’t see anything changing that.

🐊🐊🐊

2) Byron Cowart (6-4 230) Seffner (FL)

He may be the toughest of all the recruits to read but I feel like he just needed a reason to stick with the Gators and the staff gave him that reason.

🐊🐊🐊

3) CeCe Jefferson (6-2 275) Glen St. Mary (FL)

CeCe’s another that if not for a staff change would be gift wrapped for the Gators right now. Unfortunately, there was a staff change which caused him to take a serious look around.

Now, while down to four officially Ole Miss, Bama, Auburn, and Florida, it’s likely a Ole Miss/Florida battle.

A huge Gator fan with a family full of Gator fans, from a strong Gator area. Ole Miss feels good but some echoes from around him give Gator fans reason to believe.

Going out on a limb here and will be crushed if wrong, but I’m sticking with my gut and don’t see him leaving the state when he can play for glory an hour from home.

🐊🐊🐊

4) Jeffrey Holland (6-2 230) Jacksonville (FL)

Boy the Gators looked to reel in a haul from Trinity Christian shortly after signing day last year. Now they’re poised to strike out altogether.

And they will. Holland is tied to Muschamp at the waist and there is concern about qualifying here.

πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

5) Adonis Thomas (6-3 230) Lawrenceville (GA)

The new staff has worked their tail off to get back into this recruitment after he backed off his original verbal pledge to the Gators and committed to Alabama.

The staff did a great job giving him something to think about and he and his family were very high on Florida originally. There are also rumors of a surprise linebacker commit for signing day.

However, I think the staff changes let Bama in the door and they’ve done all they need to do to secure this commitment.

Bama

6) Jordan Cronkite (5-11 198) Miami (FL)

After picking up a commitment from Jordan Scarlett, the Gators are not done at the position. Cronkite shut his recruitment down after visiting Florida and that’s almost always a good sign.

Add in the fact that this kid has long been waiting for a Florida offer, the previous staff head-scratchingly didn’t pursue him, and you’ve got the recipe for a silent commit.

The fact that the staff hasn’t recruited any other backs since his visit tells me they are done at the position.

🐊🐊🐊

7) Deondre Francois ( qb 6-1 195) Bradenton (FL)

Francois became target number one for coach Mac as soon as he took over. He remains the top choice despite his public affirmation of his prior FSU pledge.

I, like many, believe the smoke surrounding a bogus twitter decommitment was real and in the end despite Kai Locksley flipping from FSU to Texas, I believe Francois will flip to the Gators on signing day, one of a number of splash announcements for the Gators.

🐊🐊🐊

8) Lamar Jackson (qb 6-3 185) Boynton Beach (FL)

The Louisville commit tripped to Florida last weekend and the trip have him something to think about.

Rumors from his camp is that he’s all Cardinal. I think so too for two reasons.

One, he wants to be a Cardinal. And two, the Gators are feeling good about top choice Francois.

Cardinal

9) Derrick Dillon (WR 5-11 173) Franklinton (LA)

A long time Gator commit, he starred in the Army All American game but has been trending away for the Gators for two months.

A planned unofficial to Gainesville last weekend never materialized. Thus, for all intents and purposes, he’ll be a Tiger on signing day.

πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

10) Ryan Davis (WR 5-9 167) St. Petersburg (FL)

Davis, the speedy receiver from Lakewood high, is another who’d likely be a Gator by now if not for staff turnover.

Now the Gators are in a dogfight with Auburn. Davis is very impressed with Gus Malzahn and the Tiger offense. He seems equally impressed with the new staff and their energy level.

This could go either way but since I have to call it, I’ll say Tigers by a tail.

πŸ…πŸ…πŸ…

11) Antonio Callaway ( WR 5-11 185) Miami (FL)

Callaway admittedly grew up a Percy Harvin and Gator fan and named the Gators his leader last summer before backing off.

The other two schools here are Miami and West Virginia. The universal consensus is that he will not sign with Miami leaving a Florida-West Virginia battle.

Have you been to Morgantown in the winter? Antonio has and he didn’t look real comfortable in the cold, snowy conditions on his official in the pic he posted on Twitter.

School he grew up rooting for only a couple hour drive from home playing in the Swamp versus Morgantown. Nuff said.

🐊🐊🐊

12) Javarius Davis (Ath 5-9 173) Jacksonville (FL)

Davis was all but signed, sealed, and delivered to Auburn the weekend of his official visit on the 16th.

Funny thing happened on the way to the forum. Auburn filled up on db’s and the Gators new staff did a great job convincing him he has a future on offense.

Many still think Tiger, but I truly believe he’s all Gator.

🐊🐊🐊

13) Nick Buchanan (OT 6-4 280) Dunwoody (GA)

Buchanan is a kid the Gators got on late in the cycle as they seek depth on the offensive line. With five committed, they’d like two more and Buchanan is certainly one.

He’s very close to Chris Williamson who committed on Monday to Florida and to Tyler Jordan and Brandon Sandifer who are both Gator line commits.

After decomitting from Cal on Monday as expected, it’s a matter of when he announces for the Gators. Georgia is trying to work their way in but they don’t have Williamson, Sandifer, or Jordan. Good luck Mark Richt.

🐊🐊🐊

14) Tyree St. Louis (OT 6-5 300) Bradenton (FL)

The big man who is committed to Miami took an official to Florida and will be choosing between them and the Canes on signing day.

The staff loves him, I think they gave him pause to think, but my gut feeling here is that it wasn’t enough to pull him off his Cane commitment.

Cane

There’s a few more guys looking at the Gators that are not listed here and not likely to pick the Gators except for Keivonnis Davis from Miami. I believe the only way they get him is if they miss on either Cowart or CeCe and I don’t believe that’s going to happen.

I also add a plus one. A surprise recruit that may pop on signing day.

That’s eight expected on signing day plus 15 already committed plus a surprise for a total of 24 signees total.