High school football standouts visiting UF

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.

Graham Hall :