Florida Gators Recruiting Update
By: Robert Craft
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
Most of Gator Nation didn’t even know who Jaden Rashada was two months ago. Today, his recruitment has fans wondering whether this staff can close the deal.
I understand that sentiment stems from other prospects as well, but the Gators haven’t had enough top targets in the 2023 cycle yet.
With Rashada included, it’s too early to be judging their efforts for this ‘bump’ class. Recruits have to be ready, or scheduled to announce before they can close on them.
Billy Napier and his army showed that ability in his transition class, finishing with a top-20 ranking after signing top-100 prospects Shemar James and Kamari Wilson.
He also landed impact transfers O’Cyrus Torrence, Montrell Johnson, Jalen Kimber and Ricky Pearsall.
We are six months away from the early signing period for the 2023 class. Only two of the top 15 players in the Sunshine State have committed, Keon Keeley (Notre Dame) and Raylen Wilson (Michigan), along with just six of Florida’s top 30 players.
The Gators hosted 19 of those 30 recruits for unofficial and/or official visits this spring/summer and are currently the favorite for eight of them.
UF is also up to 31 official visitors so far this month, and only one prospect who was uncommitted prior to his trip has since pledged elsewhere (Jordan Hall to Michigan State).
Aside from Hall, the only other significant 2023 target Florida has missed on so far is five-star cornerback A.J. Harris, who recently committed to Georgia.
Harris stated that he attended a UGA camp in sixth grade, shook Kirby Smart’s hand and told Smart he was going to play for him one day. Realistically, it sounds like the Gators had their work cut out for them.
With Aaron Gates committed, plus a recruiting board with five-star Cormani McClain, top-200 Sharif Denson and 6-foot-3 cornerback RJ Johnson, Florida should be fine at their position. McClain is a must-get, but his recruitment will be a marathon.
Four-star running back Treyaun Webb, who officially visited UF earlier this month, makes his commitment on June 30.
Five-star receiver Jalen Brown and top-150 prospects Aidan Mizell, Eugene Wilson III and Will Norman all plan to decide before their senior seasons.
The Gators will need to close on those recruits, along with Rashada, in the coming weeks and months. If they land at least half of the targets above, their 2023 class will be in good shape heading into the fall.
Should most of them commit elsewhere, then there will be cause for concern. Either way, the end of summer is when we’ll have a realistic idea of where this class stands.
I’ll say this: Napier won’t miss any of his targets for lack of trying (or name, image and likeness). The Gator Guard has established UF as one of the foremost aggressive NIL collectives, and Napier’s investment and involvement in recruiting is the most we’ve seen from a Florida coach since Will Muschamp.
In terms of ranking the last four Florida coaches as “closers” and how aggressively they recruit, I would list them in this order based on my knowledge: 1) Will Muschamp 2) Billy Napier 3) Jim McElwain 4) Dan Mullen.
I looked back at how many signees from each of those classes joined before July.
Muschamp had the most with 10 commits, although one pledged to the previous staff.
McElwain and Mullen both had eight commits, but only six committed to Mullen.
Urban Meyer, who signed a top recruiting class in 2006, had just five members in it at the end of June.
I wrote when Billy Napier was hired that he would be judged on this recruiting class. Judgment Day is in February, not June.