High school football standouts visiting UF

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Clearwater Calvary Christian's Amari Burney, a UF commit, tries to sack Cardinal Mooney quarterback Jack Koscho in a game earlier this year. Burney is visiting the UF campus this weekend. [Dan Wagner/GateHouse Media Services]

With the Florida football team’s season in the rearview, the focus turns to the future — and that future is arriving earlier than ever.

College football’s first 72-hour early signing period runs Dec. 20-22, meaning coach Dan Mullen and UF’s re-tooled coaching staff has less than two weeks before signing several prospects in the 2018 class.

With just 13 recruits verbally committed to the program, Florida is expecting at least six currently committed prospects to sign within the next two weeks. And before Dec. 18 arrives — when coaches can no longer visit prospects before the early signing period — the Gators have just two opportunities remaining to get prospects on campus for official visits.

The list of UF’s early signees taking official visits this weekend to Gainesville includes Calvary Christian (Fla.) athlete Amari Burney, Carol City (Fla.) defensive back Randy Russell, Bainbridge (Ga.) running back Dameon Pierce and Wyoming Valley West (Pa.) offensive lineman Chris Bleich, who became the first prospect to commit to Mullen when he flipped from UCLA on Nov. 29.

Aside from UF’s current commits, Florida also expects to host four-star Dutchtown (Ga.) safety Trey Dean on an official visit. Dean, who decommitted from Tennessee on Thursday, has continued taking official visits around the SEC as he looks to make a final decision on his collegiate destination, including a stop at the University of Alabama last weekend along with an upcoming official visit Dec. 15 at Kentucky.

And with Gators kicker Eddy Pineiro eligible for the NFL draft in April, Mullen is looking to prepare in the event of Pineiro’s departure. After receiving an in-home visit from UF’s head coach during the week, kicker Evan McPherson is expected to take an official visit today to Florida. McPherson, the No. 2-ranked kicker in the 2018 class by 247Sports, verbally committed to Mississippi State in April, but Mullen’s departure from Starkville and subsequent arrival in Gainesville has the Gators poised to flip the Fort Payne, Alabama, native.

Although the situation remains fluid, the Gators expect five-star Long Beach Poly (Ca.) quarterback Matt Corral to sign early with UF on Dec. 20. Corral, who is expected to take an official visit over the weekend to Ole Miss, committed to Florida in July and seemingly hasn’t wavered in his pledge despite the uncertainty in Gainesville prior to Mullen’s arrival. Yet Florida has continued to recruit other quarterbacks in the 2018 class, meaning the future at quarterback may get hazier before it’s clearer.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Would be great to end up with a top 20 class when all is done. With a coaching change that had to happen, and asst coaches coming and going, it is normal to have a drop in recruiting. And for all the people still questioning the hire because of his previous record, look up the record of Saban when he was hired by LSU. A lot of people questioned that hire at the time….and only time will tell how Mullen does at UF.

    • Valid point about how a coaching change can affect recruiting. I remain firmly behind the Dan Mullen hiring and long term benefits will be seen. Still, it is discouraging to open up Gator Sports on line each morning the past couple of weeks and see more and more decommitments from both the 2018 and 2019 (not a big deal) classes. The Gators need depth next year so every lost body counts and will have to be replaced, hopefully by the same quality or better players.
      Topping off the tough week, now the men’s basketball team has suddenly forgotten how to score! Has Nuss been sneaking into the practices and coaching shooting? Let’s go Gators.

  2. If Dan Mullen elevates Florida to the same degree he lifted MSU in little old Starkville, Mississippi no one will be questioning Scott Stricklin’s appointment of Mullen as our head ball coach. A top 20 class is a worthy sum. By the time we get to early February this class likely is too 15 or a bit better. Coach Mullen is reshaping the staff, this class and the whole time of Florida football. Oh, my, a transformation is necessary right now. Regardless of where his initial recruiting class is finally ranked, the direction has turned dramatically for our program. There are so many reasons to be optimistic and not merely hopeful.

    • Absolutely, I’ll just be happy with an average class, this is the way it always goes with a coaching change, players commit to coaches, rarely to schools.

  3. IMO, Matt Corral is the key recruit. I know — Justin Fields, Justin Fields, get over it — go YouTube Matt Corral highlights. He has an absolute cannon, is a natural scrambler with a sixth sense for the rush and likes to hit. He can absolutely run Mullen’s offense. He isn’t Tim Tebow, but he might be Steve Young.

  4. Still a little shy on Mullen, yet have become very hopeful of late. Sure hope he hires Kevin Patrick NC St for the new DL coach. That would be great. This new early signing period will be interesting this. Still after that is 6 more weeks to put this class together. Proof will be in the pudding in Feb. Next year early signing period will be big because HS incoming will set up more for it by then. New kicker is very interesting. With two stars in front of him at UG, would not be surprised to see Fields flip to Gators. Anyone heard the status of WR Robinson ?

  5. This process is going to take time. There are major holes in the team that need to be filled. I think it will take 3 years to get back to a top ten team. Mullen will need time, I hope the fans will realize that. Certainly is good news that he is looking at a kicker.

  6. You can not judge anything on the upcoming season, the last regime left us nothing, the cupboard is bare at FL. and that staff was absolutely a disaster in recruiting. every week we were out classed in speed, strength and athletic ability. All we can hope for in this class is hole filling. If we can just run a play without a penalty and that play actually not get blown up then we are on our way back. Just run a play, not that backyard football we are use to seeing every week. 6 and 6 in 2018 would be a huge win with what we are left with after paying millions for what? Long way to go, but a special 5* or 4* here or there can drastically put a light in the room. I for one know what Mullen is left with, and a dumpster fire is just not strong enough to put it into words. Those coaches that just left out the door with big paychecks should all be arrested for crimes and stealing. I wouldn’t let a single one of them coach a pee wee football team. Thanks for nothing guys. Go have laugh at while UCF, but schedule the Gators in 2020 and we will have our revenge. Go Gators!

  7. You must remember that Mullen had less talent at Miss. State than he has here at Florida and he turned around Miss.St. With the talent he has here he should easily turn this program around. However, I realize it may take time.

  8. I sure hope the rest of the Gator Nation stands by Coach Mullin and gives him time to rebuild what was and is a broken team. If you look at all of the coaching changes around the country it is easy to see that we will not find a better coach than the one we have. Hopefully all of the past negative people in the Gator Nation will get on board and stand behind coach Mullin. It is fun football to watch when he is calling the plays on Saturday’s. There are a lot of holes to fill on both sides of the ball. I for one am thrilled to read everyday how Mullin and staff have visited & reached out to recruits as well as offered new recruits offers. They have been busy recruiting since he took the job. Some recruits will and have backed out, that is what happens to all teams when there is a coaching change. Stay positive guys and support our new coach. The future looks much brighter now for our Gators. Go Gators!!!

  9. As far as Florida football being devoid of talent is concerned to categorically state that is an over generalization. Suppose Jarrett Stidham or a similarly talented QB had transferred to the Gators and was the 2017 starter? That alone would have elevated Florida to a contender in the East. So while Georgia still would be a more talented team and have won the East, Florida would still have been at least an 8 win team and Mac would still be in Gainesville. Remember Mac was done in by either not finding or not developing an adequate QB. All those yards that the D gave up and all those injuries on D can at least be partially attributed to all those 3 and outs on offense. Now this is not to say that the overall talent level is currently good enough to stand toe to toe with Georgia and win an SEC Title but Coach Mullen will still inherit a team with some returning talented players. If the cupboards were really bare then an elite coach like Mullen probably would not have come to Gainesville. Any way now Gator Nation will just have to be patient and let the future play out.

    • Disagree about the defense. I watched those games carefully, we couldnt stop the run from the beginnings of games. Also from the beginnings of games our secondary was burned repeatedly! Now I dont believe it was a lack of talent. Up until this year we have had a top ten defense for over a decade, but the 1st year Shannon was DC and he said he was simplifying the defense, they dropped like a stone. Dont tell me it was freshmen playing because each year we have had alot of juniors go from defense on to the NFL and played many freshmen and we still were great the next year. No it was coaching pure and simple.

  10. Any time you have a regime change there’s going to be a need for rebuilding. The immediate need is to fill the pipeline for the coming years. It’s very unusual to make much of an immediate impact with recruits.

    The cupboard is far from being bare in Gainesville. Keep an eye on the JUCO players and graduate transfers that come in to fill roster gaps. I see a coach and staff being very strategic about addressing what we need to be competitive next season.

    Beyond personnel, it’s a question of how quickly a new offense can be taught and implemented. With the spread offense it’s zone blocking and basic reads, so the learning curve may not be as steep as with pro style. Make no mistake about it, there’s still a learning curve ahead.

  11. Kevin Patrick NC St DL Coach is very hopeful speculation. Excellent up and coming coach. Florida based. Would be a great hire for the Gators. My math seems to be a bit fuzzy. So, 85 scholarships, 68 on, 13 commits, leaves 4 aval. Does this count the transfers, graduates, NFL, or infamous 9 ? With the 9 gone, 2 NFL + 13 commits = 28.
    2-QB, 1-K, 1-P, 2-WR, 4-LB, 2-OL, that leaves 3 for Misc. above the 13. That about right or am I missing something ?

  12. Mullen is hands down the best of who is out there to coach the Gators,he wants to be here again,he seems to feel privileged to be head coach of our team and he has proven record, hell even Coach Spurrier likes him,he kind of reminds me of Coach Steve,Tebow loves him,he’s good and wants to be here.Us Gator fans can be nasty and we want it now, let’s give him a chance,he’s our guy.Could go on and on.
    GO GATORS!!!!!!!

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