New era for UF football starts today

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Dan Mullen's coaching staff is taking shape. (Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

For several football prospects, the wait is over.

A new NCAA rule allows high school seniors to sign national letters of intent today through Friday in addition to the traditional February signing date. And it’s also the first opportunity for junior college prospects to sign as mid-year enrollees.

Ten of Florida’s 12 verbal commits have indicated their intentions to sign early, with many expected to finalize their commitments today.

Calvary Christian safety Amari Burney will sign with UF this morning, and he’s expected to early enroll in January after qualifying for graduation. The four-star committed to the Gators in June and hasn’t wavered in his pledge despite the departure of coach Jim McElwain.

A pair of tight ends — Archbishop Wood (Pa.) prospect Kyle Pitts and Boca Raton prospect Dante Lang — will finalize their commitments today. Pitts, a 6-foot-5 prospect, is ranked the No. 6 overall tight end in the 2018 class by 247Sports, while Lang is transitioning to the position after primarily playing defensive end in high school.

And the Gators also are expected to sign two highly recruited running backs: Dameon Pierce and Iverson Clement, ranked the No. 10 and No. 11 running back in the 2018 class by 247Sports, respectively. Both prospects are believed to be eligible for early enrollment in the Spring semester. Clement will sign at 7:10 a.m. in a ceremony at his high school.

Florida’s equipment department will have an interesting challenge ahead when Vero Beach linebacker David Reese signs early today. Ranked the No. 20 outside linebacker in the 2018 class by 247Sports, Reese committed to McElwain and the Gators following July’s Friday Night Lights and has seemingly shut down his recruitment despite the coaching transition.

Defensive back Randy Russell has indicated he will wait until Thursday before sending in his signed letter of intent.

Furthermore, the Gators will look to sign three prospects who committed to Mullen this month: offensive lineman Chris Bleich, kicker Evan McPherson and safety John Huggins. Bleich flipped his commitment from UCLA to Florida, and he also expects to enroll early.

JUCO offensive lineman Noah Banks announced Tuesday his intention to sign with the Gators. Banks, a former Iowa Western C.C. product, had initially committed to Arkansas, but the 6-foot-7 Pensacola native began to waver on his pledge following the coaching transition at Arkansas.

Considering the uncertainty at quarterback for the Gators, many will be fixated on the pending decision of Heard County (Ga.) dual-threat quarterback Emory Jones, who is expect to flip his commitment from Ohio State to Florida. Ranked the No. 7 dual-threat quarterback by 247Sports, Jones took an official visit to Florida over the weekend with his mother. And it’s worth noting that if Jones flips and becomes the latest quarterback to sign with UF, this is a decision based on prior relationships: Mullen was the first coach to extend a scholarship offer to Jones while at Mississippi State.

UF’s early period signees

These commitments are expected to sign by Friday:

• OL Noah Banks, 6-7, 295; Council Bluffs, Iowa; 3 stars

• OL Chris Bleich, 6-5, 308; Wyoming Valley West (Plymouth, PA); 3 stars

• LB/DB Amari Burney, 6-1, 201; Calvary Christian; 4 stars

• RB Iverson Clement, 5-11, 190; Rancocas Valley (Mount Holly, N.J.); 4 stars

• DB John Huggins, 6-1, 198; Daytona Beach Mainland; 3 stars

• TE Dante Lang, 6-5, 230; Boca Raton; 3 stars

• K Evan McPherson, 6-0, 170; Fort Payne (Fort Payne, Ala.); 3 stars

• RB Dameon Pierce, 5-11, 210; Bainbridge (Ga.); 4 stars

• TE Kyle Pitts, 6-4, 224; Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.); 4 stars

• LB David Reese, 6-2, 210; Vero Beach; 4 stars

• DB Randy Russell, 5-11, 175; Carol City (Miami); 3 stars

1 COMMENT

  1. Looks like a solid start for early enrollment. Not a killer start as we lost a few who were apparently loving them some McYet, but good guys who want to be Gators. Add 5* Jones at QB and see what happens next; if he signs with us that will be a pull for other recruits. Didn’t lose many players this year so next year’s team will have some snaps under their belt. And we got a kicker to replace Eddie.

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