Florida Gators Early Signing Day 2018: Magic Man Mullen Pulls A Five Star Rabbit Out Of His Hat

Dan Mullen has been on the job in Gainesville as the new head football coach for less than a month. With little time to thoroughly evaluate a program that had fallen on hard times since he left as offensive coordinator to take over the Mississippi State program, he knew he had to hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.

Meanwhile Gator Nation watched nervously as a previously top ten ranked class began to unravel with top rated recruits decommitting one after another.

The angst and anxiety came to a head a week ago as top 100 quarterback commit Matt Corral flipped his commitment to SEC West rival Ole Miss after an in-home visit from Mullen and quarterback coach Brian Johnson.

No qb?

No problem.

Mullen always has a plan.

He immediately contacted All American and Elite 11 finalist Emory Jones, an Ohio State commit, and brought him down for an official visit with the dead period and early signing day looming.

As the nations 2nd ranked dual threat quarterback, Jones is much better suited to run Mullen’s spread offense than the pro-style Corral and what many didn’t know is that Dan had a rabbit up his sleeve.

Mullen was the first to offer Jones when he was a freshman and despite a later commitment to Mullen’s old boss Urban Meyer, Johnson continued to maintain a relationship with the qb.

On Wednesday Mullen’s quick thinking and Johnson’s hard work paid off when Jones put on the Gators cap to announce his commitment and subsequent signing with Florida.

The staff assembled in the Gators signing day war room broke out in celebration with high-fives and Gator chomps as Gator Nation itself let out a collective sigh of relief.

Afterwards Mullen noted that Jones had texted him Tuesday night with good news.

Considering the Gators well known offensive struggles and poor quarterback play since Mullen left after the 2008 championship season, everyone including Dan knew that landing a top flight qb was more than imperative, it was the MOST important piece of this recruiting class.

And with less than a month on the trail and less than a week since Corral left the class, Mullen pulled it off beating out recruiting titans Meyer and Saban in the process as well as a late push from FSU effectively earning the nickname Magic Man Dan.

Just like that, the Gators got a leader for the #AllBite18 recruiting class, a big time quarterback, and most of all: a winner.

Take a behind-the-scenes look at the Gators signing day war room and the coaches reaction to Jones’s commitment here.

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Florida Gators Commit Steals The Show Against Stanford Commit


In a matchup of Power Five quarterback commits, it was the less heralded Florida Gators commit Kadarius Toney that stole the show.

2018 Saraland quarterback Jack West, a Stanford commit,247sports composite 4 star,and top 100 recruit, came in with all the fanfare but once the game started it was Blount quarterback Toney who garnered the headlines. 

Toney (6-0, 180) showed his dual threat abilities hitting some nice downfield throws and making people miss in the run game. 

On the night he completed 9 of 17 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown while carrying the ball 8 times for 93 yards and three TD’s.

He barely missed two other passing TD’s with nice deep throws but the receivers couldn’t quite make the grab. 

On one 47 yard run he was able to bounce it outside, juke some guys, and lowered his shoulder at the end of the run displaying his toughness.

Here he goes over the top of double coverage for a 47 yard TD.

Perhaps his most impressive run of the night was off a terrible snap where he made points out of a play that most would simply fall on.

https://twitter.com/swamp_music2/status/774411851186606080 

Here he executes a perfect play fake and then takes it to the house.

Here he throws a nice pass on the move for a huge gain that would lead to his third td, a 1 yard run.

Toney is a playmaker who completely dominated this game against a good Saraland team.

Don’t pay any attention to the three star ranking. Toney will be a difference-maker at the next level.

The Gators are getting another good sleeper out of the Mobile (AL) area after stealing RB Lamical Perine last season.

August Run Continues For Florida Gators, Pick Up Another Big Time Commitment


August has been good for the Florida Gators. Fall camp, my birthday, and another commitment.

This time it’s south Florida defensive back Shawn Davis from Southridge high school who pledge to the Gators today via Twitter. 

Head coach Jim McElwain confirmed the commitment with his now famous Gator bat signal.

Davis is a three-star prospect in the 247sports composite rankings but looks much better than his number 500 overall ranking.

He’s a versatile defensive back with good size, great play recognition, natural instincts, solid ball skills, and he’s a fierce hitter who doesn’t shy away from contact.

He uses his hands well in man-press and has good hips in coverage. 

The Gators have led for sometime for him though he was still considering the hometown Hurricanes, his other finalist.

His commitment makes sixteen total so far for the Gators in the 2017 recruiting cycle and is the fifth in the month of August. 

He joins Marco Wilson and Elijah Blades in what will ultimately be a large defensive back class for the Gators. 

Check out his Hudl highlights here.

Gator Twitter Erupts For Hansard Commitment


The Florida Gators picked up a huge commitment from massive Princeton (NJ) defensive tackle Fred Hansard Friday morning.

He announced his commitment in a video produced by the Bleachers Report website and released on Hansard’s Twitter account.

Appropriately Gators Twitter was well pleased at the commitment which is number fifteen for the 2017 cycle.

Position coach Chris Rumph with the Gator chomp:

 https://twitter.com/andrewspiveygc/status/769174843195592704

California linebacker Rahyme Johnson who is also strongly considering the Gators tweeted this:

 https://twitter.com/rahyme_johnson/status/769173700352495616

Followed by a response by Hansard.

And then this exchange:

Hansard had been considered a strong Gator lean since visiting for Friday Night Lights in July where it was obvious he had a good time.

He also has apparently loved the Gators for much longer.

With three defensive tackles in the fold including high school senior Jordan Scott and JUCO Javier Edwards, the Gators are likely done at the position this cycle. 

It’s a massive haul both in numbers and in size.

He chose the Gators over finalists Rutgers and Tennessee and had over 30 offers in total.

Chomp Chomp! Gators Nab Huge Commitment, Continue August Run


August continues to be a big month for the Florida Gators on the recruiting trail. Friday morning they picked up another huge commitment, literally, from massive New Jersey defensive tackle Fred Hansard.

With the now familiar Gator commitment bat signal head coach Jim McElwain announced it on Twitter.

Hansard made his commitment in a Bleacher Report video posted via Twitter. In the video, he hails a cab in New York City and makes the trip through the tunnel across the river where he stops the cab. He gets out, turns around with the Big Apple in the background, gives a “Go Gators” and flashes his Gator gloves.

Hansard (6-4 310) from the Hun School in Princeton, NJ chose the Gators over the over his other two finalists Rutger, the home state school, and Tennessee. 

He is a composite four star recruit, the 11th ranked defensive tackle nationally and #201 overall according to the 247sports composite rankings.

The third defensive tackle in this class, Hansard brings a good combination of size and ahleticism as a three technique DT who is versatile enough to move around along the line.

A big bodied guy with a compact frame who absolutely blows up offensive lineman, he has great quickness off the ball and can run down the line. 

He is strong at the point of attack and plays with good technique and pad level but that quick first step is unusual for a guy his size and should continue a long line of great Gator defensive tackles.

He is the Gators 15th commitment for this cycle and likely not the last for today as long time Gator lean CB Shawn Davis is scheduled to make his choice known this evening.

 

Byrd In Hand: Florida Gators Land Big Tight End


The Florida Gators continued their string of recruiting commitments on Saturday as Millbrook (AL) tight end Zechariah Byrd gave his verbal pledge to head coach Jim McElwain and company.

The now familiar Gator bat signal that coach uses when the Gators pick up a commitment.  

Byrd becomes the second tight end in this Gators class along with Miami (FL) TE Kemore Gamble.

At 6-6 243, Byrd is a huge target with a long, lean frame. And he’s not done growing yet pushing 6-7 according to his high school coach. He has a solid frame to pack on muscle and more weight by the time he gets to campus.

More of a basketball player before high school, he’s worked hard to bulk up and refine his skills and it has paid off.

“In the ninth grade, I told him you’ve got this great length,” high school head coach Jeff Foshee was quoted in an AL.com story by Drew Champlin. “You can’t coach that. I don’t know how much he believed me. Nothing’s been given to him, but he’s stepped his game up once he figured out this was going to work for him.”

“He’s figured out that, now, No. 1, I’m a football player,” Foshee added. “He was thinking basketball, which is fine and they can play anything they want, but he’s now getting a lot of attention as a football player.”

Besides being a huge target, Byrd is athletic, has great hands, and is a devastating blocker out on the edge and in the open field.

The Gators were looking to take two tight ends in this class and they honed in on Byrd this spring after taking Gamble’s commitment.

Byrd picked the Gators over the home state Crimson Tide, Michigan, and others.

The Gators have been on a little run of late picking up their fourth commitment since their Friday Night Lights camp a couple weeks ago.

He’s also the Gators fourteenth commitment overall in the 2017 cycle. 

Check out his highlights here

The Gators are hoping their recruiting success continues on with a few more expected commitments before the end of August.

Gators Nab Another Wilson

The Florida Gators pick up another big commitment on Monday evening when four star cornerback Marco Wilson made his pledge on his father’s radio show Gridiron Studs.

Wilson, the younger brother of Gator starting cornerback Quincy Wilson, picked the Gators over Georgia, FSU, Ohio State, and Miami. 

He is a 247sports composite four star ranked #214 overall and he becomes the Gators 13th commitment in the 2017 cycle.

A natural corner with length, Wilson is an elite defensive back recruit with good hips, great speed, and excellent ball skills. He’s an aggressive cover corner who excels in man coverage and is a solid tackler.

His 4.42 40 yard dash time at The Opening was one of the fastest times at the event. 

His Sparq rating of 122.28 was good for 28th overall and in drills he more than held his own using his speed and natural athleticism to prove that he is indeed one of the top football players in the nation.

His pledge moves the Gators up to #15 overall in the 247sports team recruiting rankings.

As an interesting side note, shortly after his commitment, he became the first recruit to be retweeted by head coach Jim McElwain under new NCAA rules which allow coaches to do so. 

Check out Marco’s acrobatics: