Friday Night Lights 2015: Gators Pick Up 3 Commits, a Possible Fourth, Move Up In Manuel Sweepstakes: updated 7/25

      
    Wow, what a day! 

    Despite the rain, which cut the workout portion short, Florida’s showcase event, Friday Night Lights, was a rousing success.  

    The Gators picked up three commitments on the afternoon, two for the 2016 cycle, and one for 2017. They also may have picked up a fourth possibly silent commit.

    Meridian (MS)  defensive back Quincy Lenton (6-0 190) led off the commitment parade making his pledge public long before the start of workouts. He seemingly couldn’t wait to commit upon arriving in Gainesville. 

    The three players mentioned in the tweet are all Gator commits: CB Chauncey Gardner, ATH Tyrek Tisdale, and receiver Rick Wells all 2016 recruits along with 2017 QB commit Jake Allen. All four attended FNL.

    If home is truly where the heart is then his heart is certainly in the Swamp!

    Lenton’s commitment was not unexpected as the former Mississippi State commit has a long and deep relationship with defensive coordinator Geoff Collins who recruited him initially at MSU before taking the Gators job. 

    While considered a three star recruit in the 247sports composite rankings, Lenton is a great pickup for the Gators. He is a versatile athlete with length, athleticism, and toughness.

    He projects as a safety but he can play at nickel and corner as well. While not the fastest DB he has good football speed, is good in space, and has a knack for making plays.

    Get a glimpse of the new commit here in an interview with The Gainesville Sun recruiting reporter Zach Abolverdi. 

    Next up to offer their public pledge was 2017 wide receiver Daquon Green who also wasted little time committing upon his arrival on campus.

    His mother seemingly gave his intentions away with a twitter handle of @AlligatorChick tweeting shortly after making it to UF with Daquon.

    Green, a four star recruit, is a stud receiver and a fantastic pick up for Coach Mac as he rebuilds the Gator offense. He becomes the fourth member of the Gators 2017 recruiting class and the third recruit in the ESPN Junior 300. 

    At 6-1 185 with a chiseled physique, he looks the part of an SEC receiver despite just being a junior in high school. He has fantastic hands able to catch the ball in traffic as well as being able to go up and fight for the high balls and deep balls.

    Perhaps, more importantly he’s a good kid who fits Coach Mac’s mold on and off the field.

    Finally, the Gators picked up a huge commitment from 2016 center Brett Heggie. The Nike Opening participant has been rumored to be on commitment watch since visiting the Gators campus last month. 

    Many expected he wouldn’t leave FNL without committing and they were not to be let down.

    Besides his commitment, perhaps the biggest news was his weight upon arrival to FNL.

    The new staff has been working feverishly to rebuild a depleted offensive line with bigger, stronger recruits. That’s necessary in order to employ coach Mac’s version of smash mouth football reminiscent of his time as offensive coordinator at Alabama where he coached two NFL first round draft picks (Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson) at running back, one of which was a Heisman winner (Ingram). 

    Heggie, who possibly could fight for playing time as a true freshman due to a dearth of talent at center, had been rumored to be smallish in the 260-270 range but dispelled all fan fears with his weigh-in on Friday. 

    His stock has certainly been rising particularly since he was able to hold his own at The Opening against the top defensive line talent in the nation.

    Why Florida?

    “I just felt most comfortable here at Florida,” Heggie told GatorCountry’s Andrew Spivey. “Not only with the campus and the university but also with the coaching staff. Florida is a special place to be.”

    Indeed.

    Heggie makes commitment number 16 for the Gators 2016 recruiting class and their third offensive line commit. 

    Check out his Zach Alboverdi interview here.

    With three public commitments on the day, speculation was rampant across the Twitterverse on a possible fourth, silent commitment.

    It began after Coach Mac tweeted his now infamous bat signal he uses to signify commitments. 

    If you’re playing along at home that’s four ChompChomp’s instead of the three that went public.

    Did the coach make a simple mistake or is there possibly a fourth commit who wasn’t ready to go public yet?

    Speculation focused on linebacker Jeremiah Moon from Hoover (AL) who had been on commitment watch himself coming into FNL.

    A tweet from defensive coordinator Geoff Collins further fueled speculation that it was a defensive player.

    Then there’s this.

    But, despite all the guesswork, Moon left FNL without a public commitment.

    So stay tuned boys and girls and hold on to your hats. It should be a wild, bumpy ride to signing day.

    Speaking of wild, perhaps some even bigger and certainly somewhat bizarre news coming out of FNL was the announcement that five star defensive end Shavar Manuel has an all SEC top three which includes Florida but surprisingly does not include FSU his assumed leader and the school holding over 80% of the crystal ball picks.

    While shocking, Manuel explained that he sees himself as an SEC type player. 

    If true, this would preclude him signing with the Noles. Of course, in recruiting the old rule about watch what recruits do, not what they say holds true to this day. 

    He does, however, seem to have built a very strong relationship with defensive line coach Chris Rumph and Florida  very well could be in the driver’s seat here.

    While there’s still a long way to go until signing day, Gator fans have to feel good about their chances of landing this top prospect. 

    If so this could be the new staff’s signature defensive line recruit, continuing a long history of top defensive line talent in Gainesville going all the way back to the days of Charley Pell.

    And with Jonathan Bullard graduating after next season to become another likely first round draft pick from Florida, Manuel could prove to be the new bookend with 2015 five star defensive end CeCe Jefferson.

    Regardless, FNL 2015 was a rousing success and, in the words of Florida Director of Player Personnel Drew Hughes, the Gators definitely got better on Friday.

    *** The fourth commit for the Gators from FNL did finally pop on Saturday as Hoover (AL) OLB Jeremiah Moon made his verbal pledge to the Gators public. 

    Moon (6-4 205) is a long, lean tackling machine from a strong high school program. Libebacker is a position of immediate need for the Gators as they are very low on numbers having signed only one since loading up on four three cycles ago. 

    While seemingly underweight, Moon is quick and agile and plays much bigger than his size. He’s quick to the hole, a sure-handed tackler, plays well in space, and has a high football IQ.

    He should be well suited for what defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and linebackers coach Randy Shannon want to do at the position.

    His commitment brings the total to 17 for the 2016 recruiting cycle.

    Check out his highlights here.

    Florida Gators Reel in Massive 2017 Recruit

      

    “Recruit Daily or Die.”

    Jim McElwain

    Staying true to his word, new Florida Gators head football coach Jim McElwain and company reeled in an important recruit for the 2017 class on Tuesday.

    In what has become sort of a recruiting bat signal for Gator fans, Coach Mac, as he is affectionately known to the Gator faithful, signaled another commitment for the Gators 2017 style.

    The player he is referring to is massive offensive tackle Kadeem Telfort (6-6 306) from Miami (FL) Norland who announced his pledge to the Gators via Twitter shortly after decommiting from the hometown Hurricanes.

    Telfort’s commitment is huge for the Gators both literally and figuratively. He has prototypical offensive tackle size and length, a long wingspan, and a great frame to add bulk.

    He’s still a raw player who will need work in the weight room as well as development with his footwork, hand placement, and pad level but his measurables are not coachable.

    His length will help keep rushing defenders to the outside in the passing game and his size and strength should make him a bull in the run game.

    His pledge continues a string of Gator commitments from the Miami-Dade area and shows a renewed presence for the Gators in the recruiting hotbed of South Florida.

    Norland High, the alma mater of Gators linebackers coach Randy Shannon, has been particularly good for the Gators with teammate and 2016 OLB commit Vosean Joseph helping to flip Telfort from the Canes.

    Telfort becomes the third member of the Gators 2017 class along with QB Jake Allen and WR Lavarus Tigner.

    Gator fans are hoping the three commits will form the foundation of a return to offensive excellence in Gainesville under coach Mac and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.

    Check out Telfort’s Hudl highlight here.

    Florida Gators Reel In Top 2017 Target

    “Recruit daily or die”

    Jim McElwain

    The McElwain Train continues to pick up steam.

    When new Florida Gators head football coach Jim McElwain took the reins of the program he immediately went to work shoring up the 2015 recruiting class which had a paltry 8 low rated commitments, finishing with a respectable top 20 class.

    Perhaps, even more importantly, however, he went to work building relationships for the 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes as well.

    With only two realistic options at quarterback on the roster (redshirt freshman Will Grier and true sophomore Treon Harris) coach Mac tried fruitlessly to reel in a top target at QB last cycle.

    To date, they’ve fallen short of any of their top targets for 2016 as well with one remaining on the board (Dillon Sterling-Cole from Houston Westlake).

    Not to worry Gator fans as the staff was able to reel in a big fish on Wednesday for the 2017 class when Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas QB Jake Allen pulled the trigger for Florida.

    “It was a dream offer 100 percent. Iโ€™ve always dreamed of going to Florida,” Allen told Andrew Spivey of Gatorcountry.com.

    So what are the Gators getting with Allen?

    To begin with, they’re getting a player first and foremost.

    His stock has been skyrocketing after winning MVP of the inaugural Rivals Quarterback Challenge last month.

    Shortly after taking home the hardware from Rivals, he received his “dream offer” from the Gators after seeing him throw live at their camp.

    Allen (6-3 193) is a tall, rangy pro-style QB with a strong arm and solid mechanics.

    What really stands out on tape, however, is his ball placement. He’s not only very accurate, he has a knack for throwing a catchable ball and putting it where his receivers can get it and make plays after the catch.

    He has a great tutor in former Gator and Marshall Thundering Herd Division II-A national championship winning QB Eric Kresser who had to be pleased with Allen’s commitment.

    Kresser tutors Allen for his company Kresser Passing Academy.

    Secondly, and equally important, the Gators are getting an early bellwether for the 2017 recruiting class. Great classes almost inevitably require a leader who isn’t just a top talent but possesses the charisma to help recruit other top players to join him.ย A good example is the Gators 2006 class which skyrocketed up the rankings after the charismatic Tim Tebow announced for the Gators. Top linebacker talent Brandon Spikes famously mentioned that he signed with the Gators because he was going wherever Tebow was going.

    Not only do top programs need top talent but top players want to play with other top players, particularly at QB.

    With two solid young players already competing on campus, Allen’s commitment takes some pressure off the staff to sign a top guy this cycle although they will continue to recruit Sterling-Cole for depth and competition purposes. If this staff has shown anything it’s that they will work tirelessly to overcome roster shortcomings.

    Theres an old cliche that a coaches third class is his most important. The first class is almost always a waste as the staff tries to hold what it inherits and simoly tries to shore it up. The second class, particularly now with recruitng beginning earlier every year, is often also difficult as the new staff is still behind at relatiinship building with recruits.

    The third class, which in coach Mac’s case is the 2017 cycle, is the first one in which they are on equal footing. And with Allen comfortably in the fold everything looks rosy for the Gators. With a solid product on the field in the fall, particularly on offense, expect the 2017 floodgates to begin to open up for the Gators.

    Allen is the second commitment for the Gators 2017 class along with wideout Lavarus Tigner.