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).
* Daniel Imatorbhebhe (TE) Suwanee (GA)
* Khalif Jackson (WR) Neptune Beach (FL)
* 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.